The Specifics of Scaffolding Safety Measures

untitled (2)OSHA estimates 2.3 million construction workers, or 65 percent of the construction industry, frequently work on scaffolds. The importance of safety measures specifically for scaffolding are clear, “Protecting these workers from scaffold-related accidents would prevent 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths every year, at a savings for American employers of $90 million in workdays not lost.”

In a Bureau of Labor and Statistics study, 72% of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. General guidelines such as providing an access ladder, using scaffold-grade lumber, screw jacks and keeping the scaffold within 14 inches of the building are elaborated in OSHA’s specific standard.

They include:

  • Fall protection or fall arrest systems — Each employee more than 10 feet above a lower level shall be protected from falls by guardrails or a fall arrest system, except those on single-point and two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds. Each employee on a single-point and two-point adjustable suspended scaffold shall be protected by both a personal fall arrest system and a guardrail.
  • Guardrail height — The height of the toprail for scaffolds manufactured and placed in service must be between 38 inches (0.9 meters) and 45 inches (1.2 meters).
  • Crossbracing — When the crosspoint of crossbracing is used as a toprail, it must be between 38 inches (0.97 m) and 48 inches (1.3 meters) above the work platform.
  • Midrails — Midrails must be installed approximately halfway between the toprail and the platform surface. When a crosspoint of crossbracing is used as a midrail, it must be between 20 inches (0.5 meters) and 30 inches (0.8 m) above the work platform.
  • Footings — Support scaffold footings shall be level and capable of supporting the loaded scaffold. The legs, poles, frames, and uprights shall bear on base plates and mud sills.
  • Platforms — Supported scaffold platforms shall be fully planked or decked.
  • Guying ties, and braces — Supported scaffolds with a height-to-base of more than 4:1 shall be restained from tipping by guying, tying, bracing, or the equivalent.
  • Capacity — Scaffolds and scaffold compponents must support at least 4 times the maximum intended load. Suspension scaffold rigging must at least 6 times the intended load.
  • Training — Employers must train each employee who works on a scaffold on the hazards and the procedures to control the hazards.
  • Inspections — Before each work shift and after any occurrence that could affect the structural integrity, a competent person must inspect the scaffold and scaffold components for visible defects.
  • Fall protection continues to be the construction industry’s most prominent hazard. Training, prevention and preparation with a designated safety expert are the fundamentals of keeping workers safe from heights specifically while working on scaffolding. For more information, contact Diversified Safety Services.
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