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Scaffolding safety tips: Rules every worker should know

Scaffolds are a familiar sight on construction sites, and indispensable when it comes to working in high places. But scaffolds are also a common source of danger for workers -- especially when the proper safety measures aren't taken.

Here are some scaffolding safety rules that every construction worker should know:

1. Don't rush the assembly

It's tempting to rush an assembly when you're in a hurry or a job is running late. Don't do it. Take the time to put the cross braces in and plank the entire bay. A broader work area also adds to the stability of the scaffold and can keep you from wobbling (and falling). A guardrail is also essential and can do a marvelous job of keeping you from accidentally stepping off the platform.

2. Use a three-point grip when you climb

The rule is basically this: Keep one hand and two feet or two hands and one foot on the scaffold at all times. When you climb, stay close to the frame so that you don't put the scaffold in danger of moving out of balance and tipping.

3. Avoid cluttering the landing planks.

Don't hang your tools from the rails -- and don't leave them sitting on the planks, either. Grab a bucket when you go up and use it to collect and hold your tools as you work. That reduces the risk of you tripping -- and it reduces the chance that someone walking beneath will get hit on the head by a falling object.

4. Watch for power lines and other dangers

This is one of the most overlooked scaffolding dangers there is. Power lines and wires are everywhere in American landscapes -- and workers are so used to seeing them that they sometimes just look right past them. Scope out the scaffold's area before you start and steer clear to avoid electrocution.

If you're injured in a scaffolding accident, your career in construction may be over. At a minimum, you're looking at a long healing period. Make sure that you find out more about your right to benefits and compensation following any construction accident.

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