17 Scaffolding Safety Tips

Posted on January 28, 2024 in Scaffolding

After the structure was inspected for scaffolding safety, workers begin their day with a burst of sunshine through the dome's oculus.

Safety is a top concern when working at height. Alarmingly, scaffolding-related incidents lead to approximately 4,500 injuries annually. Accidents frequently cause physical injuries and also lead to serious financial issues. This includes lost workdays costing an estimated $90 million, potential fines, and higher insurance premiums.

Fortunately, there are many ways for companies to protect their employees from these preventable accidents. The following scaffolding safety tips will help reduce the risks of an accident when working at heights.

1. Use Proper Safety Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is necessary when working in any industrial or construction setting, especially at height. Wearing a hard hat on scaffolds is crucial to protect against injuries from falling objects. Non-slip footgear and especially proper fall arrest equipment are also essential when working on platforms.

Incorporating hand-protecting gloves and tool-tether lanyards is essential to further enhance working-at-heights safety. Slip-resistant gloves improve tool grip, making workers less likely to drop them. 

Tool tethering lanyards also securely attach tools to workers, preventing falls that could endanger others working below. This combination of fall protection equipment boosts safety and improves operational efficiency.

2. Be Aware of Load Limits

Manufacturers design scaffolding equipment with specific load-bearing capacities and load limits in mind. Your workers could be at serious risk of injury if you place excessive loads on scaffolding structures greater than the intended design capacity. Scaffold platforms might break, fail or collapse —causing potentially severe injuries for workers on or near the scaffolding. Fortunately, scaffolding components are designed with a 4 to 1 safety factor providing a significant capacity safety cushion, but it is always good to know what your scaffold structure load capacity actually is before putting concentrated loads on the decks. 

3. Know Relevant Regulations and Standards

Every industry has its own specific regulations and standards. Scaffolding regulations are generally governed by Federal OSHA for different Industry classifications and specific customer sites may also have project standards over and above OSHA, so research the specific OSHA, Industry and customer site requirements before constructing any platforms.

Building and using scaffold structures that are installed according to applicable standards and regulations can prevent accidents, employee risks and, at the very least, avoid liability for not meet necessary standards. In addition, as required in the Competent Person inspection requirement for all scaffolding users,  your workers should be trained to recognize and minimize the risks and hazards of whatever type of scaffolding you’re using on your project.

4. Inspect Scaffolding Materials

Before setting up your work platforms, you must inspect all your materials beforehand. Make sure none of the parts have defects or damage that could compromise the structural integrity of your scaffolds. Mismatching components can pose a significant scaffolding hazard and lead to structural failure.

5. Build Properly

Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer when building your scaffold. Check the types of bracing, fasteners and anchor requirements to ensure that you’re erecting the scaffold according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not take shortcuts or improvise your own design.

You also want to ensure the work area is entirely safe when building your scaffold. A level ground surface works best (if possible), but with the right components, scaffolding can be safely built on sloped terrain. If working near power lines, certain safety guidelines apply, but at a minimum you must stay 10-feet or more from the power lines.  Always consult a qualified scaffolding expert when working near power lines.  In addition, regulations require a Competent Builder Person to be present and supervise scaffolding erection and dismantle work. A competent person is someone who has received OSHA-approved training, scaffolding manufacturer equipment training, and has the accompanying title and authority assigned by their company.

Be sure to check for the following:

  • Leg braces should be correctly installed on the frame of the scaffold.
  • The standards, planks, decks and scaffold structure are “level, plum and square” that creates a stable and safe scaffold structure for workers to do work on.
  • Installers must rigidly install decks, planks, brackets, toeboards, and tubes plus ensure  all connections are tightly secured.
  • Mud sills and base plates should be the correct size and installed rigidly to the scaffold feet and frame.
  • As per OSHA regulations, there should be at least 10 feet of clearance between electrical hazards and scaffolds. You’ll need to de-energize the line or have the power company wrap it if the distance is less than 10 feet.

6. Inspect the Site and Equipment—Again

The need for inspections doesn’t go away after you’ve erected the scaffolding. Check the area regularly for hazards, defects, debris, or other factors that could cause a problem. 

Competent User Person’s conduct inspections at the start of each workday to confirm the area is hazard-free for that shift. Consider using scaffolding safety check-lists to ensure all safety elements are confirmed every day.

7. Keep Vehicles and Heavy Equipment Clear

Always keep vehicles and heavy equipment clear of the scaffold base. Setting up barriers can keep the whole structure from toppling. In situations when it’s necessary to have heavy equipment nearby. make sure the equipment has clearance.

8. Stay Organized

“Good housekeeping” isn’t just a magazine in the supermarket checkout line. Maintaining cleanliness and order on scaffolds is crucial for safety. Ensuring the scaffolding is free from tools, debris, excess scaffolding planks, or trash is essential. 

These items can create tripping hazards or add undue stress to the scaffold structure, potentially leading to a collapse. Regularly schedule clean-up sessions and encourage workers to tidy their working areas to prevent these risks.

9. Mind the Weather

You want to ensure the conditions are safe when working at height. Working during harsh weather conditions or other environmental hazards can increase the risk of serious injury. For instance, high winds could risk injury to those working on the scaffold. If a storm has brought down a power line, that could also create a scaffolding hazard. 

In addition to wind, weather conditions like heavy rain, lightning, snow, and ice pose significant risks to scaffold safety. OSHA guidelines advise against climbing, using, or erecting scaffolds. 

Workers should know these hazards and avoid using the scaffold during weather events. Monitoring forecasts and enforcing weather safety rules ensures a hazard-free workplace.

Learn how Scaffolding Solutions mitigated high wind concerns when installing scaffolding on an aviation hangar.

10. Be Fully Licensed 

Working with fully licensed staff and contractors helps prevent injuries. This ensures everyone on site understands proper scaffolding practices. Obtaining a license requires education, training time, and hands-on experience. This rigorous preparation enables your team to perform their duties competently and safely.

11. Climb Responsibly

Scaffold safety requires careful attention to climbing practices. Workers must maintain three points of contact with the scaffold at all times—either two hands and one foot, or one hand and two feet. 

Scaffold erectors can climb vertical and horizontal bars during assembly or disassembly if they securely tie themselves off. All other users should stick to ladders, ramps, or stair towers for climbing.

12. Scaffolding Safety Tags

Scaffolding tags help identify whether or not a scaffold is safe to use. A competent person (as defined by OSHA) must inspect and tag the scaffold structure. There are three different types of scaffolding tags:

Green scaffold tags—If you see a green tag on a scaffold, a competent person has inspected it and verified it is safe for use. Each access point should have a green tag after the completed initial inspection.

Scaffolding safety includes moving responsibly and carefully to avoid accidents.

Yellow scaffold tags—Yellow tags indicate that scaffolds have undergone modifications to their structure or components to fulfill particular work requirements. However, these changes have the potential to introduce new hazards or risks. The yellow tags outline special safety precautions or usage guidelines that all users must follow.

Red scaffold tags—If you see a red tag, it means there is danger and the scaffold is unsafe for use. Workers often use these tags when they’re erecting or dismantling the scaffold.

13. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)

Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) for all electrical tools used on scaffolds. GFCIs greatly reduce the chance of electric shock. Requiring slip-resistant gloves and tool lanyards as personal protective equipment also improves safety. Attaching tools prevents them from falling and injuring those below.

14. Causes of Damage

Understanding what causes damage to scaffolding is crucial for maintaining a safe work environment. Workers can damage scaffolding by forcibly hitting it during manual labor or through contact with vehicles/motorized equipment. Exceeding the structure’s maximum load capacity can also compromise its integrity.

Environmental elements like rust due to oxidation can weaken the scaffold’s structure. Conducting regular inspections and not exceeding weight limits helps minimize these hazards and ensures the scaffolds remain safe and functional.

Scaffolding integrity is vulnerable to more than just damage from excessive weight. It can also suffer damage from forceful impacts, like manual labor or motorized equipment. Environmental elements, such as rust, can weaken the structure over time. Regular inspections for these types of wear and tear are crucial to maintain scaffolding safety.

15. Distance for Heavy Equipment

Setting a safe distance between scaffolding and heavy equipment is essential to prevent accidents. As a guideline, keep a minimum distance of at least 10 feet away from all heavy machinery. 

For larger vehicles and their greater swinging/reaching range, set up an exclusion zone 20 feet away or more. Maintaining this protective buffer prevents hazardous collisions that could compromise the scaffolding and endanger workers.

16. Climbing Safety Instructions

Safe climbing practices are essential for scaffold safety. All scaffold users must adhere to designated climbing methods to prevent falls and injuries. The only permissible ways to ascend and descend scaffolding are through ladders, ramps, or stair towers. This ensures maximum safety and compliance with established safety standards.

Scaffold erectors have specific guidelines for climbing during the erection or dismantling of the scaffold. They can climb vertical legs and horizontal bars, but only in these circumstances and while adequately tied off. This precaution is necessary for their safety and the scaffold’s structural integrity.

All other workers should only use approved climbing components. They should not climb cross braces, diagonals, bars, vertical legs, guardrails, or other non-designated parts. 

Adhering to these protocols is vital for maintaining a safe work environment and minimizing the risk of accidents. By restricting climbing to designated areas and methods, the safety of all workers involved with the scaffold is more assured.

17. Regularly Review Scaffolding Safety Updates

Staying up-to-date with the latest safety standards and practices is a continuous responsibility. Regularly reviewing evolving safety standards and equipment with all personnel creates a culture of constant learning. 

For example, repeatedly referencing OSHA’s scaffolding safety guidelines will keep you up-to-date on the latest federal regulations. Bookmark their eTool page and have your designated competent person review it regularly for changes.

Prevent Hazards and Accidents With These Scaffold Safety Rules 

Training staff to recognize scaffolding hazards and follow safety measures significantly reduces accidents and liability. Providing them with easy access to tools and personal protective equipment for further accident prevention is vital.

At Scaffolding Solutions, we are committed to scaffold safety. Our experienced team stays current on the latest standards and regulations for compliance. Our comprehensive training equips every crew member with the skills to erect scaffolding and identify potential hazards safely.

Click below to request a free quote for your upcoming scaffolding project. Our safety-focused services provide reliable scaffolding installations to keep your job site productive and accident-free.

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They kept us informed every step of the way, addressing any concerns promptly and effectively. Their ability to navigate the challenges of the project and maintain clear communication truly blew our hats off.I highly recommend Frank, Yoni, and Jefferson for any project requiring precision, safety, and excellent communication. Five stars without hesitation!Response from the ownerThank you, Thomas! We strive to provide outstanding customer service, safety and communication on all of our projects. It was a pleasure to partner with you on this project! Ben FeeneyBen Feeney ★★★★★ Frank Giuliano (Scaffolding Solutions) is amazing! He is truly passionate about customer service and seeks to cultivate long standing relationships with his customers. I recently worked with Frank on a construction project that required a lot of his time logistics wise. He was patient, responsive and asked good questions. He went above and beyond to ensure the project was completed to our satisfaction.Response from the ownerThank you, Ben! We were thrilled to partner with you on this project! We believe that great planning and outstanding communication make for successful projects and happy customers. We always strive to exceed your expectations. Looking forward to many more successful partnerships with your team in the future! a aa a ★★★★★ I would like to personally write a Google review, though I wrote corporate and expressed the same sentiments, this needs to be made public.Frank is the most AMAZING person; he is knowledgeable, kind, honest, trustworthy, and has the most integrity and follow up. I have worked with multiple scaffolding companies for our multifamily developments within Maryland and Virginia and Scaffolding Solutions is a TEN STAR experience and business.Each commitment has exceeded our expectations. Frank has set the bar so incredibly high that I wish every experience could be with him for every service we outsource; hence, we continue to exclusively work with him.I cannot sing the praises enough when it comes to Frank and he deserves attention, recognition, accolades and compensation for the tangible and intangible value he adds to Scaffolding Solutions.We love you here at Exterior Medics Frank! <3 We are excited to continue our journey as partners.Best,AdeleResponse from the ownerThank you Adele! We appreciate all your support and partnership. We strive to provide great service, technical support and friendship to all our partners. We appreciate you! Matt PusheckMatt Pusheck ★★★★★ Highly recommend Scaffolding Solutions for anyone's access needs. We have established an incredible working relationship with this group in the last 18 months on some very high profile projects. Frank Giuliano is the definition of customer service and is always at the ready to help! They provide both fair and prompt pricing when needed. Frank and his Field Supervisor, David Herbert, are very knowledgeable and professional. We have had tremendous success with Scaffolding Solutions and I look forward to continuing our working relationship for years to come.Response from the ownerThank you Matt! We appreciate your trust and confidence in partnering with us. It is truly a pleasure to work with your company. We look forward to many more successful projects working together with your team in the future! Rmb BoswellRmb Boswell ★★★★★ Working with this as Frank representing has been great experience. They paid attention to the needs I requested for support needed for an MRI. They with detailed drawings for me to approve and plan of attack the was perfect .Response from the ownerThanks Robert! We were very excited to partner with you on this important project! Planning and meticulous project coordination in advance of the start of work ensures a smooth and 100% safe work execution. Have a great day! heydy Landaverdeheydy Landaverde ★★★★★ Jeremy WishonJeremy Wishon ★★★★★ Frank was awesome to work with. The service was top notch, got the ball rolling immediately, and got us set up faster than expected. Looking forward to working with them on future projects.Response from the ownerThank you Jeremy! We appreciate your continued partnership and trust. Lynn PierceLynn Pierce ★★★★★ Great service! Exceptional communication! I’m greatly to worked with Scaffolding Solutions.Response from the ownerThank you Lynn! It was a pleasure to partner with you. John WoodJohn Wood ★★★★★ Our heavy mechanical construction company have worked with Scaffolding Solutions for years now. Scaffolding Solutions are amazingly fast, responsive, & professional. They always exceed our expectations! Mr. Frank Giuliano is absolutely the best. Frank is always accommodating, extremely knowledgeable and always “safety first” in his approach to our scaffolding needs. We manage heavy mechanic projects within the transportation industry for Government agencies and Scaffolding Solutions & Mr Giuliano always exceed our clients needs. We highly recommend Scaffolding Solutions & Mr. Frank Giuliano for any, commercial or residential projects, you or your company has. 5 STARS! OUTSTANDING QUALITY WORK! GREAT COMPETITIVE RATES!Response from the ownerThank you, John! We are proud to be your "access partner of choice". Looking forward to many more successful projects to come. Thank you for your business! Hal CoganHal Cogan ★★★★★ Frank and his team with Scaffolding Solutions were great! Even with last minute changes and numerous headaches the day of they still got the job done. I look forward to working with them again!Response from the ownerThank you, Hal! Our goal is to provide the best service, safety and pricing of any other access company in the DMV. Exceeding your expectations is our mission! Hann HannHann Hann ★★★★★ Frank & his team didn't meet our expectations, they exceeded them. Everyone was extremely professionally throughout the project. Communication was over the top. Couldn't have asked for more complete turnkey service. Scaffolding Solutions is top of the list for any scaffold or shoring needs.Response from the ownerThank you! The amazing partnership, friendship and teamwork we have with Hann and Hann is what we're all about. We appreciate your business! rolando Tobarrolando Tobar ★★★★★ Great work & access to all kind of work ...The best in the DMVResponse from the ownerThank you Rolando! Our goal is to provide the best service of any other access company in the DMV. Kevin TaylorKevin Taylor ★★★★★ The team at Scaffold Solutions really got me out of a bind this past week. Set-up scaffold on Saturday morning and came back Sunday morning to take it back down. Communication was great, speed and safety were excellent and price was fair. I appreciate the solid communication and follow-up from their team and they did a great job helping me get the steel installed in the elevator shaft. Thank you!Response from the ownerThank you Kevin! We were very happy to partner with you on this work and "get it done". Safety, communication, speed - and great pricing. You hit the nail on the head my friend! Diana MiraldiDiana Miraldi ★★★★★ Response from the ownerThank you for your 5-star review Diana! Giselle AllenGiselle Allen ★★★★★ I recently had my fourth floor loft terrace enclosed. Scaffolding Solutions, LLC is the only choice you need to ensure your project is successful! Frank Giuliano visited my home and assessed the area, then coordinated with the Patio Enclosure installation manager to build a custom design that was efficient for the project. Frank’s customer service was remarkable. He constantly communicated updates and I felt very comfortable contacting him with any questions. The scaffolding crew only took one day to assemble and disassemble the scaffold without incident. They were pleasant, professional and respectful of my property. Hands down this was the best experience and I definitely recommend Scaffolding Solutions, LLC.Response from the ownerThank you Giselle! We were happy to be able to help you with your project...and are very glad the experience was so positive for you. Have an amazing day! 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