High rise or multi-level construction is common these days and presents many potential dangers, one of which is scaffolding accidents. It is estimated that 2.3 million workers (over 65% of all construction workers) spend at least part of their time on scaffolding.
Constructing and using scaffolding for a project presents numerous hazards to workers. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), most injuries related to scaffolding accidents occur due to tip overs, falls, being struck by falling debris, or contact with live power lines.
According to OSHA, taking steps to protect construction workers from these accidents would prevent 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths per year.
Here are some Scaffolding Safety Tips to keep in mind:
- Always choose the most appropriate scaffolding for the job considering the tasks at hand, the weather, etc.;
- Scaffolding should be able to bear 4 times the anticipated weight;
- Ensure that all workers wear hard hats to protect themselves from falling objects;
- Site managers should always review the scaffolding manufacturer’s guidelines for proper use;
- All scaffolding materials should be at least 10 feet away from power lines;
- Scaffolding planks should be close to another, with never more than one inch of space;
- Employees should have safe access to the scaffolding (cross-braces should not be used as ladders, for instance);
- Be sure that planks that are 10 ft. or shorter are 1-12 inches over the line of support and planks 10 ft. or longer are 18 inches over the line of support.
- Platform should be 14 inches away from the wall;
- Ensure all metal components are free from rust, holes or broken welds;
- Insist that workers report any cracks in wood planks larger than ¼ inches;
- Debris should never be allowed to accumulate on the scaffolding;
- Shore or lean-to scaffolding is never allowed;
- Overhead protection should be provided when work is being done above.
These are just a few of many suggested precautions that should be taken when dealing with scaffolding. OSHA contends that many if not all scaffolding related accidents can be controlled by adherence to OSHA guidelines.