Scaffolding makes it possible to reach those high-up places with more stability than you would get with a standard ladder. However, there is still some risk involved with climbing way up onto a scaffold. As always, you must put safety first! Here are some tips to help keep yourself safe while working on scaffolding.
1. Plank the entire scaffold bay.
You might be tempted to just place a few planks across the scaffold bay in an effort to save time or to save money on wood. But with a partially planked scaffold, all it takes is one accidental step too far back, and you could fall through. Always take the time to fully cover the scaffold bay with planks. There should be no space whatsoever between them so you don't have to worry about tripping or getting a foot caught.
2. Use the guardrail.
Most scaffold systems come with a guardrail, but you have to install it separately once the scaffold is set up. Take the time to do this, especially if you will be working with heavy tools up on the scaffold. No, wearing a safety harness is not a suitable alternative to putting up the guardrail. The harness might save your life, but a fall can still cause an injury as you'll bounce off the scaffold!
3. Keep three points in contact with the scaffold.
When you're climbing up the scaffold, make sure you always have three points of your body in contact with the structure. This could be two legs and one foot — or both feet and one hand. You don't want to let go with both hands or hang from the scaffold with one hand and one foot. If one of the two anchor points slips, you're done for! With three anchor points, on the other hand, one can fail... and you'll still be on the scaffold.
4. Don't climb in bad weather.
If it's raining, snowing, or really windy outside, wait until another day to work on the scaffold. Even if you wear gripping gloves and shoes, the risk is just too high. When the weather clears, make sure you thoroughly dry the scaffold before using it. You would not want to slip and slide off the scaffold!
To learn more about scaffold safety, ask the company that sold or rented you the scaffold for advice. They will often have safety pamphlets to provide upon request.