If you make your living working in construction, building erection, cleaning or another type of industry that requires that you spend time working on scaffolds or temporary work platforms elevated high off the ground, you face unique job-related dangers. Per the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration, anyone who works on or around scaffolding faces at least some degree of risk, but you, your colleagues and your employer can all make efforts to help protect one another and mitigate that risk.
The first step in beefing up safety practices and protocols with regard to scaffolding involves recognizing where your risks lie. As someone working on or beneath a scaffold, you run the risk of injuries relating to the following:
Falling from heights
Falls are among the most common causes of scaffolding-related injuries. Falling from a high elevation can lead to brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones and even death, among other repercussions.
Falling due to the scaffold collapsing
In addition to the obvious risk of falling from high up, you can also fall and suffer serious injuries if the platform that should be supporting you collapses under your feet. Scaffolds are prone to collapse if erected improperly or forced to bear too much weight.
If you or your employer erect your scaffolds too close to power lines, you also run the risk of suffering electrocution. You can reduce this risk by taking extreme care when erecting your platforms and making sure there are no overhead obstructions that can lead to trouble.
There are risks associated with working near scaffolds as well as on top of them. Often, you and your colleagues need tools, cleaning supplies or other items with you on the scaffold in order to perform your job duties. However, anyone working on the jobsite beneath you runs the risk of a head or other type of injury should such items fall.
Working on or around scaffolding comes with inevitable risk. Your employer has a duty to minimize the risk as much as possible, and you, too, can take strides to protect yourself by exercising extreme care when working on or near these temporary platforms.