An estimated 2.3 million construction workers, or 65 percent of the construction industry, work on scaffolds. Protecting these workers from scaffold-related accidents may prevent some of the 4,500 injuries and over 60 deaths every year. This is a significant savings for American employers of $90 million in workdays not lost.
In a recent BLS study, 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. All of these accidents can be controlled by compliance with OSHA standards. OSHA has an excellent resource page for scaffold safety training resources and we have provided the link here.
Below is a simple list of best practices for safe scaffold use that can keep employees safe and save lives and money by preventing accidents related to falls from scaffolds.
- Inspect scaffolds and scaffold parts daily, before each work shift, and after any event that may have caused damage.
- Check to see if power lines near scaffolds are deenergized or that the scaffolds are at least 10 feet away from energized power lines.
- Make sure that tools and materials are at least 10 feet away from energized power lines.
- Verify that the scaffold is the correct type for the loads, materials, employees, and weather conditions.
- Check footings to see if they are level, sound, rigid, and capable of supporting the loaded scaffold.
- Check legs, posts, frames, and uprights to see if they are on base plates and mudsills.
- Check metal components for bends, cracks, holes, rust, welding splatter, pits, broken welds, and non-compatible parts.
- Check for safe access. Do not use the cross braces as a ladder for access or exit.
By training employees prior to use and inspecting scaffolds daily, you can prevent a potential lost time accident or a citation. Improper use of scaffold was a top ten citation issued by OSHA for construction in 2012. Be proactive and keep your employees safe.