If you use scaffolding or scaffold towers, safety needs to be your top priority. It is essential that the correct safety precautions are taken to minimise the risk of working at height. So here are our dos and don’ts for using scaffolding.

DO wear relevant PPE

PPE (personal protective equipment) is essential if you are going to be working at height on a scaffolding. Using the right equipment can help protect you and minimise the risk of injury if something goes wrong. Certain kinds of PPE are obvious, such as non-slip shoes to give you as much grip as possible, but you should also look at other safety gear such as a helmet. While a helmet might seem unnecessary when you are on top of a scaffold, its actually danger of items falling from above when you are on a lower level that means it is essential to wear one at all times.

DON’T set up your scaffolding on unsteady terrain

Positioning your scaffolding properly is essential. No matter how high quality the scaffolding may be, setting it up on unsteady or uneven ground makes it very dangerous. The last thing you want is for the scaffolding to be at risk of tipping over. If the ground is unable to take the weight of the scaffold or it simply cannot be set up safely then you should either find a better way to position and secure the scaffolding or look for another way to carry out the work.

DO use a full-body harness

Perhaps the most important piece of equipment when you are using scaffolding is a fall arrest system such as a body harness. This keeps you safe in this hazardous environment and ensures that even in the worst case scenario you are protected.

DON’T assume one storey is no big deal

Even if you’re used to working at height, there’s no excuse to disregard proper safety procedures if you’re only going up one storey. Remember that falls from any height can cause serious injury so you always be exceptionally careful.

DO have a qualified person check the foundation and structure

Make sure that you have a qualified person check the foundation and ensure that the scaffolding is properly anchored and that it braces the structure. It’s not enough to simply follow the instructions and set up the scaffolding – someone with the authority to check should ensure that structure is safe to use.

DON’T overload a scaffold

You should always refer to the instructions supplied by the manufacturer of the scaffold and ensure that you do not overload the scaffold. There will be a maximum capacity that the structure can support and overloading this is very reckless and dangerous as well as illegal. Even just a little extra weight can cause the structure to buckle and that situation would be exceptionally hazardous, not only to workers on the scaffolding but anyone beneath it.

DO use second-hand scaffolding

There is nothing inherently wrong with using second-hand scaffolding – it can be an efficient way to get the scaffolding you need at an affordable price. You should make sure that you buy your scaffolding from a reputable dealer who has thoroughly inspected the equipment to be sure that it is all safe and in good working order before selling it on. Check over the scaffolding before you buy to ensure it is not excessively worn or overused.

DON’T use scaffolding that isn’t fit for purpose

It may be tempting to use scaffolding that you already own or have hired, even if the dimensions don’t quite work with the job you’re trying to do. However, doing so can be very dangerous. If your scaffolding isn’t the right shape or height from the job in hand it could be that you attempt to set it up incorrectly to better fit the proportions of the work. Doing so seriously compromises the safety of the equipment.