Just pretend you’re sweeping

Photo credit: spengy on Flickr

Once there was a boss who had a plan for fooling safety inspectors. One of his former employees told me about it.

This employee, who I’ll call Dan, said the boss asked him to build scaffolding three storeys high. On top of that, he was working in a region where regulations required certification for anyone who builds scaffolding more than one storey high.

“The boss gave me a little whisk broom and told me that if any strange cars drove onto the site while I was building (i.e., some sort of inspector), I should take out the whisk broom and pretend like I was just cleaning up,” Dan told me. “It seemed like a pretty good idea at the time.”

I was appalled. I asked Dan if he felt uncomfortable with the task.

“I guess I just assumed that the boss wouldn’t put me in a dangerous situation. In truth, I had no experience with scaffolding and had no idea what i was doing,” Dan wrote. “Ignorance is bliss, right?”

Scaffolding resources

Training is very important, especially for young workers with less experience – people like Dan, who in this case had no experience with scaffolding.

Many resources are available for educating Dan and (more importantly) his unscrupulous employer. Here are some:


Image from WorkSafeBC's How to Erect Access Frame Scaffolding

10 scaffold safety essentials from Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine

How to Erect Access Frame Scaffolding, a poster from WorkSafeBC

Toolbox Meeting Guide: Scaffold requirements from WorkSafeBC

Frame Scaffold Set Up from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety


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