Preventing Scaffolding Injuries
About 2.3 million construction workers work on scaffolding on a frequent basis, and according to OSHA, protecting workers from scaffold-related accidents may prevent some of the 4,500 injuries and over 60 deaths every year. Studies show, about 72% of workers that had been injured in scaffolding accidents, as a result of problems like the planking or supporting giving way, the employee slipping, or being struck by a falling object, all of which could be avoided by following OSHA’s safety standards.
According to OSHA, some simple solutions that can be found on their website include:
- Scaffolding must be sound, rigid, and sufficient to carry its own weight, plus four times the maximum intended load without settling or displacement. It must also be erected on solid footing.
- Unstable objects, such as barrels, boxes, loose bricks, or concrete blocks must not be used to support scaffolds or planks.
- Scaffolding must not be erected, moved, dismantled, or altered except under the supervision of a competently trained individual.
- Scaffolding must be equipped with guardrails, mid rails, and toeboards.
- Scaffolding accessories, such as braces, brackets, trusses, screw legs or ladders, that are damaged or weakened from any cause must be immediately repaired or replaced.
- Scaffolding platforms must be tightly planked with scaffold-plank-grade material or an equivalent.
- A “competent person” must inspect the scaffolding and, at designated intervals, reinspect it.
- Rigging on suspension scaffolds must be inspected by a competent person before each shift and after any occurrence that could affect structural integrity to ensure that all connections are tight and that no damage to the rigging has occurred since its last use.
- Synthetic and natural rope used in suspension scaffolding must always be protected from heat-producing sources.
- Employees must be instructed about the hazards of using diagonal braces as fall protection.
- Scaffolding should only be accessed by using ladders and stairwells.
- Scaffolds must be at least 10 feet from electric power lines at all times.
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