Safety Requirements for People Who Work with Scaffolds
This week is National Safety Stand-down to Prevent Falls in Construction Week. The Maryland-based company, Scaffold Resource, celebrated the completion of scaffolding the State House dome without any incidents. This complex and difficult project is in preparation for the exterior renovation of our iconic dome.
Scaffolding is extremely useful but must be operated safely. About 15 percent of fatal falls in construction are from scaffolds, amounting to more than 60 deaths each year, as well as about 4,500 accidents. That’s why people who work with scaffolds must undergo scaffolding safety training and adhere to certain safety requirements.
The term scaffolding refers to elevated, temporary work platforms. These could be supported scaffolds, with one or more platforms with rigid, load-bearing supports, or they could be suspended scaffolds, with the platforms suspended by ropes or other non-rigid support. Lifts, including scissor lifts and aerial lifts, can also be considered scaffolds. Hazards associated with scaffolds include falls, scaffolding collapse, falling tools striking someone, or electrocution.
People working with scaffolds should be aware of these dangers and take precautions to prevent accidents from occurring. Employees working with scaffolding must be trained by a qualified person to recognize and minimize hazards. Scaffolding safety training requirements for scaffolding include:
Platform scaffolding must be constructed in a way that meets certain requirements.
Each platform has to be planked and decked with no more than 1 inch of space between the platform and uprights. When side brackets or odd-shaped structures result in a wider opening, it must not exceed 9 ½ inches. The planking must be able to support not only its own weight but also at least four times the extended load. Scaffold planks can be made of solid sawn wood, fabricated planks, or fabricated platforms, as long as they follow the recommendations of the manufacturer, a lumber grading association, or an inspection agency.
The work area needs to be safe and stable.
Each walkway or platform on a scaffold has to be at least 18 inches wide, and guardrails or personal fall arrest systems must be used. The work surface must not be cluttered with debris.
Suspension scaffolds have their own set of requirements.
The supporting devices must be capable of supporting at least four times the anticipated load. A competent person must evaluate all direct connections before the scaffolding is used and set in place. Suspension scaffolds must be secured so that they don’t sway. Guardrails and/or a personal fall-arrest system must protect each employee more than 10 feet above a lower level. The ropes must be inspected for defects by a competent person before each work shift.
Founded in 1998, Scaffold Resource, LLC has been a fixture and growing force in the Mid-Atlantic region’s scaffold industry for over two decades. The company has successfully maintained the highest scaffold safety rating and compliance with OSHA. We provide a vast array of vertical access services, implementing a three-fold base of growth. Our success is through vast professional experience, innovative approaches for difficult jobs, and a mandate that makes safety the primary responsibility. Scaffold Resource has produced many successful and well-publicized projects. Contact us through our website or call 301-924-7223 to learn how the “Scaffold Resource Difference” can work for you.
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