Scaffolding safety is often hard to achieve, due to the structure’s temporary nature. Just like any other work at-height, it is dangerous. But, because it is a temporary structure, more can go wrong with scaffolding. Avoid slip and fall hazards by inspecting it regularly.
OSHA requires all workers to be trained prior to occupying, building or moving a scaffold. Employees should also know if scaffolding might intersect with site hazards.
Don’t let scaffolding give you a false sense of security. Arrest systems and PPE are still needed. Even a short fall can be deadly.
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Dan Clark: Hello! I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.
Look up. Look way up… at the scaffolding. Scaffolding has been used for hundreds of years. It used to be just wood planks back in the 1600s. Today, scaffolding has changed but the distance to the ground is the same. And the pain is the same if you fall. So take safety precautions.
Well, business owners and safety managers everywhere, what kind of precautions? What kind of training is required? Do I need special qualifications to conduct training? Do workers need to use special equipment? Oh, what about assembly and disassembly and what are the requirements? And how can I possibly make sure the employees comply with the rules?
Well, let’s take this one step at a time. What does OSHA say? Well, they say all the site-specific hazards need to be disclosed. What does that mean? Well, if it’s a danger in your specific site, you have to let the employees know about it, of course. For example, if the scaffolding will come close to power lines, let the employees know. Also, explain how to use the equipment like arrests and harnesses and PPE.
OSHA also insists that workers know how to carry materials on a scaffold. It’s much trickier than on the ground. Also, since there are different types and brands of scaffolding, describe the specific procedures for the type that you’re using including the details like the max weight load allowance, how to inspect for defects and how to get on and off this specific scaffolding.
Other requirements from OSHA: any employees that will be involved with moving, disassembling and inspecting the scaffolding should be trained in how to do it. Trainers must know what they’re talking about. You might even consider having the experienced workers go through additional training to form an internal scaffolding safety team. And don’t forget, as an employer, you’re responsible for retraining whenever the set up or purpose of a scaffolding changes.
Beyond OSHA: here are some more safety items that are just common sense.
Cover your scaffolding when it’s not in use. It prevents rusting and keeps everything dry.
Never leave your tools out overnight. Besides potentially being stolen, they can also lead to someone tripping over them the following day.
Make sure to secure the ladders near the top and set ladders at an angle outward one foot for every 4 feet of height.
Falling objects can be prevented by using nets beneath the scaffolding.
And instead of using planks, like they did in the 1600s, use solid scaffolding platforms. That way, you won’t have gaps between planks. It stops falling objects, paint spills and tripping.
And finally, have an inspector look at the equipment every morning before work begins. And, depending on the environment at your worksite and the height at which you’re working, you may need additional safety precautions.
Well, that’s it for this episode. Come back for more tips and techniques on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See the website at creativesafetysupply.com