All five New York boroughs see a massive increase in construction throughout the summer months. In a short time, skilled construction workers create and amend essential buildings. Exteriors and roofs may require the use of scaffolding—putting you at risk while you’re elevated above a construction site.

Climbing scaffolding to renovate homes, construct business buildings and restructure skyscrapers is an essential part of your job, but it may prove extremely dangerous. One wrong move could leave you, a coworker or a pedestrian injured or killed.

You, a responsible construction worker, know that your job may create an environment for hazardous situations. Laws provide restitution after a serious accident, but it may be up to you to further guarantee your safety before you step foot on scaffolding.

Protect yourself while the law defends you

Though OSHA supplies construction workers with compensation should they fall, you may have the opportunity to safeguard your own use of scaffolding by following these five steps.

  1. Be sure all licenses are valid. Before entering a construction site, you must ensure that all licenses to use specific equipment prove valid. Should an accident occur, an employee caught illegally using machinery could cause serious monetary harm to your own company, an injured employee or hurt pedestrian.
  1. Wear proper protective gear. OSHA requires construction workers to wear proper head protection at all times when working on a construction site. Protecting your head while you work on scaffolding may be the most important element in maintaining a safe work environment.
  1. Understand weight capacity. Ascending scaffolding with heavy equipment is common. A dangerous situation arises when the scaffolding becomes unstable by an employee attempting to hold too much weight on the structure. Before you bring construction equipment or materials onto a scaffolding base, know the weight limit.
  1. Inspect for secure aspects. Ensuring safety by reviewing secured elements on a scaffolding structure protects you from mistakes coworkers have made. A quick safety glance could display unsafe elements and allow you time to amend them before walking on imbalanced structures.
  1. Work slow and smart. Maintaining safety is key to ensuring a long, rewarding career. Slips, falls and oversights cause serious injuries if you do not move slow. The State of New York Construction Law Compendium states that in an accident, business owners and construction owners may not be held responsible for an individual worker’s negligence. Though your site may be on a strict time budget, know that your safety matters most to your employer.

New York laws require payments to injured parties if work-related accidents happen. Yet following extra safety protocols may help you avoid errors that save you from hospital visits and a worker’s compensation lawsuit.