Accidental falls are one of the biggest risks in jobs relating to construction industry. Hundreds of fall cases are observed each year in the United States. These accidents occur due to unsafe working places. The United States Department of Labor regulates the use of equipment which may expose workers to fall accidents.
The nature of construction operations requires the use of scaffolds to reach places above ground. They are used as platforms to raise and support a worker, which otherwise would not be reachable without the use of such a suspended platform.
Suspended scaffolds are one of the widely used scaffolds. They are used to clean hotel windows and construction workers use them for high-rise building constructions. Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) defines suspended scaffolds as two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds, hung by ropes or cables connected to stirrups at each end of the platform.
The obvious requirements dictate that scaffolds should always be suitable and sufficient for a worker to stand on. It should be constructed with quality materials that can bear the strength of even an obese person, all while providing a safe and secure platform. However, unfortunately, operations involving the use of suspended scaffolding do not always follow precautions and safety regulations provided by OSHA.
Deploying safety protocols is part of the solution to scaffold safety, unless competent persons and trained persons exist. Employees should be made aware to the hazards of their work environment, especially for working with heights, which includes scaffolding safety.
Competent persons are highly trained personnel that carry out inspections during day-to-day activities to determine potential safety and health risks.
Anchoring the Scaffold
The first step towards a safe platform to work on is securing the scaffold to a safe and secure structure. It must be ensured that the structure is able to hold the weight of both the scaffold and its occupants.
For such reasons, do not anchor the tiebacks to vents, electrical conduits, or standpipes and other piping systems. They should be installed perpendicular to the face of the structure, unless opposing angle tiebacks are being used. There is prohibition against using single tiebacks installed at an angle.
Tiebacks must possess strength equivalent to suspension ropes and hoisting ropes.
Support Requirements for Scaffolds
Adjustable suspension scaffolds are often used. They allow workers to raise or lower the platform at will. OSHA requires that they must be capable of bearing their load, in stationary and in motion.
Scaffolds and its components must be able to support their own weight and at least four times their maximum intended load without failure. Similarly, each suspension rope must be capable of supporting at least six times the maximum intended load applied to that rope, without failure, including the connecting hardware.
For two scaffolds which are designed to hold 500 pounds and 750 pounds, no more than two persons and three persons, respectively, should be present on the suspend scaffold. Any alterations to the scaffold are to be made under the supervision of a competent person.
Access to Scaffold
The safe and preferred way to access a scaffold is through a rooftop or from the ground, even though ladders can help in reaching a suspended scaffold.
One safety tip OSHA outlines is raising the scaffold 3 feet off the ground, then lowering it right before applying brakes. This helps in clearing the moisture which may be sitting overnight on the wire ropes. This moisture can potentially cause inefficient braking and cause the scaffold to fall.
Protection Against Fall
Falls count as the number one scaffold hazard. A fall occurs mainly due to lack of safety systems. OSHA directs that scaffolds which operate at 10 feet or more above ground are required to have either personal fail arrest systems or guardrail systems.
The platform must be inspected to verify the integrity of the structure before it is cleared for use. Platforms on two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds are required to be constructed under 36 inches in width.
Protection Against Electrical Hazards
Buildings have electrical power lines running around the structure. Suspended scaffolds are sometimes installed in close proximity to those power lines. Due to scaffolds often being made of metal, this presents the risk of electrocution.
Scaffolds are to be installed considering these risk factors. They must also be far away from overhead power lines, or other conductive materials.
Scaffold hazards pose a great challenge and considerable risk for workers, but it can be offset by actively monitoring equipment. Safety regulations by OSHA can be challenging to implement, but ensures the safety of life. As crucial as following the best safety practices is, training employees through programs such as OSHA 10 Construction Safety Course is equally important.
Is the Scaffolding Standard Part of 360training.com’s OSHA 10 Hour Online Course?
According to OSHA training standards, all entry level construction workers have to complete a 10 hour course that orients them to workplace safety and compliance in the industry. This includes occupational hazards such as scaffolding safety standards which can be found in the 360training.com OSHA 10 Hour Online Course. Along with this, the course also teaches students how to avoid, prevent and control other occupational hazards on a worksite.