Scaffolding is designed as a temporary structure used during construction or maintenance work. It allows workers to reach heights they normally wouldn’t be able to and, as long as it’s erected and used correctly, it’s highly safe and effective.
But even if a small section of scaffolding collapses, a single floorboard flips or safety rail shifts, the results can be devastating. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that more than 4,500 construction workers annually are injured in scaffold accidents. Even more sobering, the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) notes that an average of 88 workers per year are killed in scaffolding incidents.
Scaffolding injuries are frequently due to the improper assembly of platforms, which causes collapse and resulting falls. Aside from work crew members, pedestrians and passersby also can sustain brain, head, neck, back, spinal cord or limb injuries.
OSHA Scaffolding Requirements
Refer to OSHA Standard #1910.28 entitled “Safety requirements for scaffolding” for complete, detailed information on various scaffold requirements and regulations. Here are some highlights for your quick reference:
- Scaffolds must be provided for anyone engaged in work that cannot be done safely from the ground or other solid construction. Scaffold footing must be sound, rigid and capable of holding its maximum intended load without any settling or displacement.
- Unstable objects cannot be used to support scaffolds or planks. Such objects include barrels, boxes, loose bricks and concrete blocks.
- All scaffolding must be maintained in safe condition. It cannot be altered or moved horizontally while occupied or in use. If a scaffold is damaged or weakened in any way, it must be immediately removed from service till it is fully repaired.
- Load-carrying scaffold timber must be a minimum of 1,500 f. (Stress Grade) construction grade. Dimensions must meet nominal sizes as provided in American Lumber Standards. All planking must be Scaffold Grade as recognized by grading rules for the species of wood used.
- Work on scaffolds must be suspended during storms or high winds. Work also is prohibited during snow or ice conditions unless planking is adequately sanded to prevent slipping. Proper protection must be provided for workers exposed to overhead hazards and no tools, materials or debris are allowed to accumulate on scaffolding.
- Scaffolds must be secured to permanent structures. This can be achieved through the use of anchor belts, reveal bolts or equivalent means. Window cleaners’ anchor belts are not permissible. Shore and lean-to scaffolds are prohibited.
- Ladders or equivalent safe access to scaffolding must be provided. Any materials hoisted onto a scaffold must have tag lines.
- Scaffolds must have a screen between their toe board and guardrail. This must extend along the entire opening and consist of No. 18 gauge U.S. Standard Wire at ½” mesh or an equivalent.
Be sure to stay abreast of OSHA updates as they apply to your facility and workforce. It’s all about protecting your most priceless assets: your people. Send them home the same way they came to work: safe and injury free. To learn more, read our related posts or contact Premium Staffing, Inc., today.