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Scaffolds are critical construction aids and a major risk source

Those who work in construction frequently have to access elevated areas, often on the outside of a building. Working at higher elevations can put workers at risk, even if they use protective equipment and adhere to best practices. Falls are a constant risk for construction workers whose job takes them off the ground.

Scaffolding is an important tool when construction workers must do their jobs at significant elevations. These temporary platforms can make it easier and safer for workers to access exterior spaces above ground level and can even protect people on the ground, such as passers-by.

How scaffolding can help keep a construction zone safer

There are many ways in which scaffolding increases the security of a construction site, and there are different kinds of scaffolding that can fit different projects and height needs for workers.

First of all, scaffolding can be a stable work surface that allows for more freedom of movement than raised platforms or buckets attached to pieces of large machinery. Secondly, the scaffolding can provide a sort of barrier or safety-net between workers working higher up and either workers or pedestrians nearby. Scaffolding can catch materials and tools that fall, reducing the risk of them striking people.

Finally, scaffolding helps support and secure raw materials and tools, allowing workers to focus more on their own safety and the tasks at hand than on keeping items safely secured in an elevated position.

For all of those benefits, scaffolding also carries noteworthy risks

Despite having benefits for construction workers and the companies that hire them, scaffolding also creates risks that people simply should not ignore. Scaffolding is often wobbly, which can exacerbate things if a worker stumbles or temporarily loses balance. Improperly assembled scaffolding can tilt, shift or collapse, possibly while there are people on it.

Finally, scaffolding is only as good as the materials used to assemble it and the workmanship involved in its construction. Companies that use weak boards, rusted pipes and other worn materials could put their workers and the public at unnecessary risk.

The same is true of companies that cut costs by hiring the cheapest labor possible to construct scaffolding and work on construction projects. Maintaining safe scaffolding, ensuring workers know its appropriate weight limits and providing secondary security devices, like harnesses, are all ways that companies can reduce the dangers sometimes involved with construction and scaffolding.

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