It goes without saying that safety equipment is vital whenever you or your workforce is operating on scaffolding, especially if the project is a large one with multi-storey scaffolding setups involved. However, scaffolding safety equipment isn't merely limited to the equipment supplied to your workforce, such as head protection and fall-arrestance cables; other equipment, which is attached directly to your scaffolding, should always be used to maximise workplace safety for visitors and passersby as well as your own employees. Here are just a few of the many devices you can use to make your scaffolding a safer and more productive place to work:
This characteristic netting is seen on practically every commercial scaffolding setup and is particularly vital for work sites located in busy urban areas. It consists of strong and highly durable plastic netting, which is stretched across the face of a multi-storey scaffolding setup, and it's primarily used to prevent debris, dropped tools and other heavy, dangerous objects from falling off the scaffolding and striking people below.
However, debris netting has more uses than simply catching the odd dropped brick. The mesh of a debris net is fairly dense, allowing acceptable levels of natural light through to the scaffolding while also providing enough strength to catch heavy objects -- this relatively thick mesh means that debris nets also make for excellent windbreaks and help keep inclement weather, such as wind and rain, away from your employees. Fire-retardant debris netting is also available for use on job sites with a high fire risk.
Even the safest scaffolding arrangement has weak points, and some of the most unsafe areas on any scaffold are around the ladders -- handrails and horizontal poles used to check falls must be omitted here to ensure easy use of the ladder, leaving a dangerous gap through which workers can fall.
Ladder gates are a simple and highly effective way to plug these gaps, and consist of a strong gate attached to a very sturdy set of spring-loaded hinges. These hinges are attached to the scaffolding around a ladder gap, creating a simple yet effective gate capable of catching anybody who takes a tumble around your ladders. These gates are generally double-jointed for both left and right-handed use and are painted in high-visibility colours to further increase ladder awareness and safety.
Even at ground level scaffolding can be potentially dangerous, especially if your scaffolding necessarily intrudes on a pedestrian walkway or other public place. To prevent inattentive members of the public from injuring themselves on your scaffolding, you should therefore fit lower sections of your scaffolding with padding to cover sharp edges and pad hard surfaces.
Tube sleeves made of foam are ideal for these purposes and are sold by most scaffolding retailers -- when slotted around a scaffolding pole, these sleeves provide excellent impact protection at a low price. They are also reusable. You should also make sure that any protruding pole ends or unused couplings on your ground-level scaffolding are covered with end caps, which slot over these potentially dangerous protrusions to prevent injury.