Scaffolding Safety is Complex – Accidents Are Preventable

Scaffolding safety continues to be one of the top 10 most frequently cited standards of worksites by OSHA.  An estimated 2.3 million construction workers, work on scaffolds. Scaffolding safety measures should be taken to reduce scaffold-related accidents prevent 4,500 injuries, and over 60 deaths every year. Nearly three-quarters of scaffold accidents are attributed to planking or support giving way, or to a worker slipping or being struck by a falling object.   

First and foremost, for scaffolding safety, make sure your team is properly trained in the design and use of scaffolding.  Also, of utmost importance, provide and use all the appropriate PPE. This includes head protection, non-slip protective footwear and fall protection equipment.

“Think Safety” certainly applies when doing any type of scaffolding work.   All scaffolding accidents, and potential accidents can be mitigated by compliance with OSHA standards.  Knowing and following the rules and regulations when working on a scaffold can save lives. 

Scaffold Safety Tips 

  • A competent person must be onsite AT ALL TIMES.  OSHA defines a competent person as “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” 
  • Fall protection is not required until a worker reaches 10 feet above the ground/lower level. 
  • Tube & Post scaffolds must have baseplates installed AT ALL TIMES. Mud sills are only required if not working on a firm foundation.  If mud sills are used, baseplates must be secured to the mud sills.  
  • Never erect scaffolds on unstable objects, such as boxes, concrete blocks, loose brick, etc. 
  • Platforms must be fully decked or as decked as possible between the uprights using approved planks. 
  • Toe-Boards or other means of protection from falling objects are required on all active levels. 
  • When assembling or disassembling scaffoldingfall protection is required above 10 feet unless the competent person onsite and involved in the task has determined that it is a greater hazard to use a Personal Fall Arrest System. It is that persons sole responsibility to determine that. 
  • Provide safe access to scaffold platforms. Do not climb cross braces to ascend or descend a scaffold. 
  • When the tube & post scaffold reaches a 4:1 (height:width) ratiothe scaffold must be braced to the surface/building to prevent tipping. 
  • Scaffolds must be at least 10 feet away from any power line/power source greater than 300 Volts.  
  • Pump Jack Scaffold:  
  • Leg posts greater than 24’ must have an intermediate brace. 
  • Braces must be installed using a lag bolt, nails are not permitted.
  • Fall protection is required over 10 feet. Workers must be tied off to an anchor point independent of the scaffold/bracing.  
  • The bottom of the leg posts must be secured to prevent movement. 
  • Temporary scaffold is permitted to be constructed by carpenters only since it is expected that they have the knowledge and understanding of lumber grade and how to calculate what type of construction will be capable of withstanding 4 times its intended load.  
  • All scaffold platforms must be at least 18” wide unless specifically engineered otherwise, such as a scaffold pick. 
  • Scissor lifts and aerial lifts are considered mobile scaffolds 
  • The safety chain/safety gate must be closed whenever workers are inside the baskets.  
  • Workers are not permitted to stand on the rails of the baskets regardless of the use of a personal fall arrest system.  
  • Workers must always be trained on the safe construction and use of each scaffold type they are required to utilize 

 Scaffolding safety is complex but very critical to the safety of your workforce.  

Not sure if your scaffold is safe or compliant? 

Compliance Consultants, Inc. can help. Reach out to us today to schedule a site safety inspection.