Scaffolding Safety Requirements and Tips
Another fall caused the death of a 65-year old worker recently. This time, the accident involved a scaffold in a plant in Baltimore County, Maryland.The worker, identified as Robert George Fuchs, was removing coal debris from a conveyor belt when he fell from a scaffold.He sustained multiple injuries from the impact caused by the fall and the coals and debris that fell on him. Fuchs was pronounced dead at the scene, a tragedy that could have been avoided if scaffolding safety regulations would have been followed.
Variety in Safety
Whether you’re working in a plant, warehouse or construction site, it’s important that you’re aware of all federal, state, and local codes, regulations and ordinances covering the use of scaffolds.Fact is, scaffold requirements vary depending on which state or city you are. Also, remember that the kind of scaffold varies from one job to another. One thing shared by every job or industry is the hazard that comes with this equipment.
Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), every employee who works on a scaffold must be trained by a competent or qualified person. This training should include:
- Nature of hazards related to scaffolds like falls and electrocution
- Appropriate use of scaffolds and handling of materials when using them
- Procedures in dealing with different hazards, including the use of personal fall arrest systems and falling object protection systems
Inspections related to the use of scaffolds must start with a survey of your work area.This means checking your workplace for hazards like ditches, debris, earth fills, high tension wires, and unguarded openings. Once you’ve taken note of them, you must eliminate or control them immediately.
Before using scaffolds, you must always inspect them for damage or alterations. NEVER use them when they are defective or damaged in any way.You should also inspect scaffolds if:
- Anything happens that might affect their structure.
- They’re assembled.
- They are changed or altered.
- They’re moved.
- They are taken apart.
Weight supported by a scaffold can make or break accidents in the workplace. That is why you should NEVER exceed the manufacturer’s recommended load rating. Remember, too, that supported scaffolds should be able to support not just their own weight but at least four times the maximum intended load.
You must take special considerations when partially or fully enclosing scaffolds.This is for the reason that wind and weather increases the load supported by scaffolds.Make sure, of course, that ties attaching scaffolds to buildings are secure.
More Safety Tips
- Install and use scaffolding accessories based on the manufacturer’s recommended procedures.
- Place scaffolds on stable ground.
- Lock scaffold wheels when in use.
- Remove tools or debris on scaffold platforms.
- Equip all open sides and ends of scaffold platforms with proper guardrails, midrails, and toeboards.
- Wear a hard hat when working on or under a scaffold.
- Wear sturdy, nonslip shoes when working on a scaffold.
- Remove anything placed on scaffolds at the end of the work shift.
- Maintain at least a 10-foot distance between scaffolds and electric power lines.
- Avoid striking scaffolds with materials or vehicles.
- Intermix scaffolds, frames and components of different manufacturers.
- Use scaffolds as storage for tools or materials.
- Move scaffolds while they’re in use or occupied.
- Alter scaffolding accessories.
- Use makeshift scaffolds like planks laid across concrete blocks or other materials.
- Work on scaffolds when there’s a strong wind or storm.
- Use ladders or other materials on top of scaffolds to increase their height.
Remember that the height of a scaffold speaks for its own hazard. If you don’t train your workers in the proper use and maintenance of scaffolds, you might have to pay a very high price.
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