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Building in the Sky: How to Avoid Scaffolding Injuries

It's all the glory and the guts.

For a construction worker creating towers in the sky, scaffolding is both an enabler and a major source of danger. It may seem exhilarating to climb a few stories above ground and work above the heads of the general population, but a scaffold is also one of the country's greatest workplace dangers, resulting in more than 4,500 injuries per year and 60 annual deaths.

Whether you have a stomach of steel or you get a little queasy when climbing up to your outdoor office every day, if you're a construction worker who works with a ladder or scaffold, protect yourself from injury on the job with the following precautions.

Ensure the scaffolding is completely secure. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has recently found that oftentimes, scaffolding is shoddily or carelessly built, leading to pieces giving way under workers' feet or structures collapsing. While the scaffolding may seem like it's only a step in the process towards building the actual building you are constructing, don't skimp on securing this important support. If you're not on a safe surface, nothing can get built in the first place.

Tighten all planks and pieces properly. Once the frame is secure to the ground, you still need to ensure that each level and plank is correctly installed. Many workers have been injured from an inner scaffold plank loosening and giving way.

Protect from above. Think you're higher than everyone? Think again. Workers performing construction on other parts of the building or who have completed their section of the job ahead of you may climb a level or two above you. It's human to err, and a tool may accidentally slip from their hand or belt. Make sure your head is protected from falling objects with a hardhat. Workers should preferably secure all tools with a safety rope, as well.

Prevent slippage. Slips and falls happen, but minimize accidents where you can. Wear heavy-duty, non-slip construction boots, guard all edges with protective rails and dry wet, slippery surfaces after a rainstorm before heading back to work.

Currently, an estimated 2.3 million construction workers work on scaffolds on a regular basis. With thousands of injuries per year and dozens of preventable deaths, it's clear that these hard workers are not ensuring that their own work environment is as safe and secure as the one they are building for others.

If you are a construction worker and you're looking to avoid a scaffolding accident, make sure your construct is as safe as you would create for someone else. Don't you deserve that, too?

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