Cold weather is here, and icy conditions won’t be far behind. If you work in New York construction, you may find yourself exposed in the wind and rain on a scaffold before long. Unfortunately, falls still cause the most deaths in construction each year. There are steps you can take, however, to make sure you get back to the ground safely:

  1. Plan ahead. Don’t head up until you have a good idea of what tasks you need to perform, what you will need to perform them, and the amount of time each task should take. 
  2. Find the right equipment. This isn’t just about the safety gear, which you should have, of course. Make sure you also have the right ladder or scaffold for the job. If you don’t, talk to your boss. In addition, make sure you have the tools you need so you don’t have to make unnecessary trips up and down. 
  3. Train to use the equipment. The safety gear doesn’t do you much good if you don’t know how to use it. Your employer should provide training for proper use of all equipment on the job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you aren’t sure how something works. 
  4. Make sure the scaffold is solid. The scaffold itself should be constructed the right way to ensure safety. Use the following safety guidelines when building the scaffolding:
    • Use the right lumber graded for scaffolding.
    • The scaffold should be able to hold four times the expected load.
    • The scaffold should be closer than 14 inches to the building
    • Make sure it has a ladder for access.
    • Any scaffolding more than ten feet above ground should have guardrails and toeboards.
    • Keep the scaffold level.
  5. Inspect your equipment. Always check your anchorage point, harness and lanyard every time you use it or move to a new location. 

Be on the lookout for each other. If you see someone is in danger, say something. You may be saving a life. Remember that if you are injured in a scaffolding fall, New York law protects you under section 240. You may be eligible for more than just worker’s compensation insurance. Stay warm up there, but more importantly, stay safe.