Scaffolds, those necessary structures on virtually all construction sites, nevertheless pose a continuing safety hazard for you as a construction worker. Unfortunately, scaffolding injuries, many of them fatal, abound in the construction industry.
Per the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 72% of construction workers who survived their scaffolding injuries report that one of the following caused their accident:
- The scaffold’s planking or other support gave way.
- The worker slipped on or fell from the scaffold.
- An object fell off the scaffold and hit the worker.
Insecure means of access to and from the scaffold represents another common cause of accidents and injuries.
OSHA scaffolding regulations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates the construction of scaffolds. Per OSHA mandates, a scaffold must be sturdy enough to hold not only four times the weight its specifications call for, but also four times its own weight. Its suspension ropes must hold at least six times the weight called for by their specifications.
OSHA also regulates scaffolding usage. For instance, OSHA requires your employer to appoint a “competent person” to inspect the scaffold before each usage, as well as the personal safety equipment your employer provides you and your coworkers.
In terms of the personal safety equipment itself, OSHA mandates that your employer provide you and each of your coworkers with the following:
- An anchor
- A body belt
- A dropline
- A harness
- A lanyard
- A trolley line
Naturally, your responsibility consists of always wearing and/or using these protective devices. In addition, whenever your job requires you to work on a scaffold, you should remain vigilant for any tools or other objects lying on it, especially loose ones, on which you could slip or trip. Far too often, these seemingly minor slips or trips result in the worker falling from a considerable distance and sustaining a possibly catastrophic injury.