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Scaffolding netting is a safety device used to prevent injuries on or around a construction site. These nets protect workers and the public from objects dropped off of a scaffold, and can also help minimize property damage from falling tools or materials. Scaffolding netting generally consists of heavy plastic, such as high-density polyethylene, though some contractors may use wire or fabric netting in lieu of plastic for certain types of applications.
While some contractors install scaffolding netting as a voluntary precaution, many are required to use this product by law. In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires builders to use this netting to protect workers. Some cities or states may have additional requirements to further protect employees and the public.
Generally, scaffolding netting wraps completely around the length and height of the scaffold. A canopy or debris net is often added below the scaffold to further prevent injuries and accidents. On a building located along a busy street, for example, this canopy typically consists of a heavy tarp or plywood roof installed above the sidewalk. On sites separated from the public, the canopy may simply consist of a plastic mesh net to catch dropped tools.
When choosing scaffolding netting, builders should look for rolls that are large enough to meet the demands of a specific project. The larger the roll, the more quickly netting can be affixed to the scaffold, and the fewer connections that will need to be maintained. Materials should be strong enough to accommodate the tools and materials typical to the job, and should be treated with a UV-resistant coating if they will exposed to direct sunlight.
The primary appeal of scaffolding netting is that it is as an economical way to prevent injuries. The mesh nature of this netting means that wind passes through the material, which reduces problems associated with wind load. It's also easy and quick to install, and flexible enough to use with any type of scaffold design.
Scaffolding netting should not be used to catch falling workers, and is not designed for this purpose. Contractors must still use proper fall protection and safety equipment regardless of any netting. Unlike other scaffolding systems, scaffolding netting offers no protection against rain, snow, and other elements, and should not be used on applications that require moisture protection. In these types of applications, plastic sheeting or plywood may be used in place of netting to prevent falling objects and to keep moisture out.