Scaffolding is essential to the success of a construction or renovation project. Without it, it is nearly impossible to access the high parts of the building you are working on. Scaffolding poses some safety risks, but you can eliminate them if workers follow general guidelines and best practices on your worksite.

When putting up scaffolding, it is important to think of every aspect of the project. You need to protect the workers on the scaffolding and those who are underneath it, including people walking on pedestrian walkways. There are a number of resources at your disposal to make sure your worksite is as safe as possible for everyone involved. 

General Scaffolding Requirements and Best Practices

Scaffolding has a set of general requirements you should follow to ensure the safety of everyone on and around your construction site:

  • Stable base: The base of the scaffolding is perhaps the most important part. It must be able to hold the weight required of it, be sound and rigid and set on something solid that is not going to sway and risk falling over. This means it is not a good idea to place it on bricks or blocks.
  • Built by trained workers: It is important that professionals scaffolding build, take down and move scaffolding under competent supervision. The supervisor must have a proven ability to identify current hazards or predict potential ones. They also must know and have the authority to implement corrective measures.
  • Load support: Scaffolding and all components associated with it must be able to hold four times the load it is intended to hold to ensure safety for those involved in the project.
  • Guardrails: All open sides of the scaffolding that are higher than 10 feet above surrounding surfaces must have standard guardrails and toeboards. Cross bracing does not work as a guardrail system, but if the crossing point of two braces is between 38 inches and 48 inches or between 20 and 30 inches, cross bracing is acceptable as a toprail or midrail, respectively.
  • Debris screens: Objects can easily fall on a scaffolding site, so there must be screens in place between the toeboard and midrail.
  • Damage: If any part of the scaffolding is damaged or weakened at any point, it must be replaced or repaired immediately.
  • Planking and platforms: Planking or platforms have to be completely secure and overlap by a minimum of 12 inches. Planks specifically should go between 6 and 12 inches past their end support.
  • Work area: Scaffolding platforms and walkways must have a work area that is a minimum of 18 inches wide. If this is not possible on your worksite, there must be guardrails or personal fall arrest systems. Having both would be ideal.
  • Ladder: Workers must be able to safely access the areas where they are required to go, whether this be a ladder or something else.
  • Access: Your scaffolding must feature easy access to all platforms that are more than 2 feet above or below another point of access. This does not include cross braces.
  • Overhand bricklaying: If employees are doing overhand bricklaying from the scaffold, there must be a guardrail or personal fall arrest system protecting them on all sides where they are not working.
  • Other guidelines: Make sure your work site abides by any other specific guidelines.

Perimeter and Fall Debris Protection

Protecting your perimeter is crucial for a number of reasons. You want to be sure you prevent workers from slipping and falling off of the scaffolding. You also want to be sure that debris, tools and other objects are not going to be falling and hurting people on lower levels of the scaffolding or on the ground.

Debris Netting

Debris netting and personal safety netting protect workers and the public from injury due to falling objects. Netting should cover cantilevers and any openings in the scaffolding. Using netting also provides an added level of protection should a worker fall on the scaffolding.

Netting is easy to install and maintain, making it an efficient solution. Your worksite will have increased morale, as workers can see and trust the protection you have put in place.

Protective Canopies

A protective canopy is sidewalk protection scaffolding, built over the sidewalk around the building you are working on to protect pedestrians from debris. An overhead protection system should be up before construction begins, no matter how little of a threat your project seems to pose to areas with pedestrian access. Canopies are also called heavy-duty sidewalk bridges.

An International Equipment protective canopy comes in various configurations that are built for sidewalks in Chicago with engineered designs approved by the city. Our protective pedestrian sidewalk canopies are light-duty with concrete jersey barrier walls and engineered shoring systems for trailer support.

Debris Chutes

Debris chutes provide a solution for all the concrete, insulation, materials and other debris that come from your worksite. When you do not deal with them in a timely manner, they leave your worksite cluttered and more dangerous.

Debris chutes are long, flexible tubes that run along scaffolding, from the top of the building to the ground. Debris can be put in the chute, making it easy to transport from the top to the bottom without risking the safety of workers or pedestrians around the site. Often the chute ends in a dumpster for immediate disposal. IE also offers a debris chute system that uses scaffold and plywood.

Debris chutes help make sure your site is compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements and other safety regulations. Maintaining a safe workplace will reduce your workers’ compensation claims which will help keep insurance premiums low.

Contact International Equipment for Scaffolding Protection in the Chicago Area

IE strives to provide products that exemplify our commitment to quality and safety, with zero compromises on cutting corners. We are available 24/7 and offer a free quote and job site visit. We provide the scaffolding you need and offer the labor to construct and modify it.

Contact us today for a free estimate or with any questions you have about our services.