Top Scaffold Safety Guidelines for Construction
Did you know - people often compare scaffolds to the most dangerous tool in the construction industry?
Think about the above statement for a moment. Every day hundreds of workers trust the scaffold platform they’re working on is safe enough to hold their weight and stay steady-enough for them to work... but that's not always the case. In fact, on June 30, 2019, three men were seriously injured when a scaffold collapsed during the construction of a condo.
OSHA estimates that about 65% of all construction workers perform work on scaffolds every year. Although they’re regularly used, scaffold accidents have contributed to an estimated 9,000 injuries and 79 fatalities annually, per OSHA.
Common hazards associated with scaffolds include falls from elevation, due to lack of fall protection, the collapse of the scaffold, being struck by falling tools, and electrocution from power lines.
No matter how safe or sturdy a scaffold may look, it can only support the weight capacity specified by the manufacturer.
To protect workers, OSHA has created specific safety practices and requirements in 29 CFR 1926.451 for General Requirements for Scaffolding.
OSHA's scaffolding standard defines a competent person as “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous to employees, and who has the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”
Each scaffold or scaffolding component must be capable of supporting, without failure, its own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load.
All scaffolds must be rated by the manufacturer to withstand the maximum load capacity. They determine the rating by the frame and cross-bracing design of the scaffold and its plank requirements.
What are some of the highlights from the OSHA scaffolding standard?
Here are the do’s and don’ts when using a scaffold, as noted per OSHA.
Always inspect scaffolds and ensure workers are trained to recognize terms associated with capacity limits.
Lockout tagout is a safety procedure that ensures machines and equipment are properly shut off during maintenance or repair work.