Did you know that an estimated 2.3 million construction workers, or 65% of the construction industry, work on Scaffolding frequently? Protecting these workers from scaffolding related accidents would prevent 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths every year. In a recent study by our RG Scaffolding-Solihull team, 72% 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 events can be controlled by compliance with OSHA standards and “best safety practices.”
Fewer Scaffolding Accidents and Injuries
Scaffolding is used in construction for both interior and exterior work, and injuries associated with this equipment are common. Scaffolding accidents account for about 9% of all fatalities in the construction industry. While falls are the most serious hazard of concern, additional hazards include falling objects, structural instability, overloading and electrocution.
These factors must be monitored and followed by all supervisors. We also list training needs, which are critical for all employees who perform work, erect or disassemble scaffolding. References to Scaffolding standard will provide supervisors with a technical reference when needed, plus help them better understand what is required and how they can best safeguard the workers they supervise.
How much weight can be held on Scaffolding?
Platforms can be constructed using individual wood planks, fabricated planks, fabricated decks and fabricated platforms. In general, all scaffolding and scaffolding components must be capable of supporting the weight of the structure and at least four times the maximum intended load (i.e., the total load of all persons, equipment, tools, materials, transmitted loads, and other loads reasonably anticipated to be applied to a scaffolding or scaffolding component at any one time). Additional capacity requirements apply to suspension-type scaffolds and their associated hardware. The stall load of any scaffolding hoist must not exceed three times the rated load. Specific criteria for scaffolding capacity specifications are contained in an appendix to the OSHA standard.
If you design and construct your own scaffolding, it must be designed by a “qualified person” and then must be constructed and loaded in accordance with the design.
The qualified person means one who, by possession of a recognised degree, certificate or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training and experience, has successfully demonstrated his/her ability to solve or resolve problems related to the subject matter, the work or the project.
All working level platforms of scaffolding must be fully planked or decked between the front uprights and the guardrail supports. If the platform is composed of several individual platform units, such as scaffolding grade planks, then the maximum space allowed between units or between a unit and an upright is one inch. However, if you can demonstrate that a wider space is absolutely necessary, then an open space of up to 9 inches is allowed. An example of this situation would be when a space of more than one inch is necessary to fit around the uprights when side brackets are used to extend the width of the entire platform. The use of shore or lean-to scaffolding unit is not allowed.
What is the correct width?
In most cases, a scaffolding platform must be at least 18 inches wide. However, a minimum width requirement of 12 inches for ladder jack scaffolding, top plate bracket scaffolding, and pump jack scaffolding. The standard does not yet require roof brackets scaffolding to meet the 12-inch width requirement. Manufacturers’ have argued that most existing 8 inch or 10-inch wide roof bracket scaffolding function adequately.
The maximum allowable space between the working edge of a platform and the face of the work surface is 14 inches, unless a guardrail system or personal fall arrest system is utilized for fall protection on this edge. Exceptions are:
- A maximum space of only 3 inches applies to outrigger scaffolding;
- A maximum space of up to 18 inches from the face of the work surface is allowed for plastering and lathing operations.
Each platform end must extend over its support by at least 6 inches unless it is cleated or otherwise restrained from movement by hooks or equivalent means.
The end of each platform that is 10 feet or less in length must not extend over its support by more than 12”. The end of each platform that is more than 10 feet in length must not extend over its support by more than 18”. However, in both cases, the maximum extension distance over the support may be increased if the platform is designed and installed so that the cantilevered portion is able to support employees and materials without tipping, or if a guardrail system is installed to block employees from accessing the cantilevered end.
How do I access Scaffolding?
Whenever a scaffolding platform is more than 2 feet above or below the point of access, a suitable ladder, stair tower, ramp, walkway, personnel hoist or other suitable structure is required for access. Cross braces must not be used as a means of access.
- Safe means of access must be provided if feasible and if it does not create a greater hazard for employees. A “competent person” will make this determination, based upon site conditions and the type of scaffolding being erected or dismantled.
- Hook-on or attachable ladders must be installed as soon the scaffolding erection has progressed to a point that permits safe installation and usage.
- Integral or built-in access ladders can be used but must be specifically designed and constructed for use as ladder rungs. The rungs must be uniformly spaced and be at least 8 inches in length, with a maximum space between rungs of 16.75 inches. This distance can vary slightly at the transitions between frames. These rungs cannot be used as work platforms when the rungs are less than 11.5 inches in length, unless each affected worker uses appropriate fall protection.
Competent person means “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorisation to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”
Scaffolding and their components must be inspected for visual defects by a competent person before every work shift and after any incident that may have affected the structural integrity. Any part of a scaffold that is damaged or weakened below the applicable strength provisions is to be immediately repaired, replaced, or removed from service.
Do I need Protection for if I fall?
Some type of fall protection is required for each employee who works on scaffolding more than 10 feet above a lower level.
Each employee on a boatswains’ chair, catenary scaffolding, float scaffolding, needle beam scaffolding, or ladder jack scaffolding must be protected from falling with a personal fall arrest system. Personal fall arrest system means a system used to arrest a worker’s fall. It consists of an anchorage, connectors, a full-body harness, lanyard and may include a deceleration device, lifeline or combinations of these. See the OSHA Construction Fall Protection Standard.
Each employee on a crawling board must be protected by a fall arrest system, guardrail system, or by a 0.75-inch diameter grab line or equivalent handhold securely fastened beside the crawling board.
Guardrails on Scaffolding
When working on Scaffolding, you will need a Guardrail installed for fall protection. it must be installed on all open sides and ends of platforms before the scaffolding is released for use by employees other than erection and dismantling crews.
The top edge height of top rails on all suspension scaffolding where both guardrails and a personal fall arrest system is required must be between 36 inches and 45 inches above the platform surface.
Cross bracing is acceptable as a top rail when the crossing point is between 38 inches and 48 inches above the work platform, or is acceptable when the crossing point of the two braces is between 20 inches and 30 inches above the work platform. The end points at each upright must be no more than 48 inches apart.
WATCH OUT! FALLING OBJECT!
You’ve heard it a million of times before, always wear a helmet – the hardhat helmet is the most important PPE for any construction site possible. However, each employee on a scaffolding must be provided with additional protection from falling hand tools, debris and other small objects by the utilization of toe-boards, screens, guardrail systems, debris nets, catch platforms or canopy structures that contain or deflect falling objects.
Large potential falling objects must be placed away from the surface edge and secured to prevent falling.
Need a Lift?
Aerial lifts are vehicle-mounted aerial devices, which elevate employees to work sites above the ground. Aerial lifts include extensible boom platforms, aerial ladders, articulating boom platforms, vertical towers, and a combination of any such devices. They may be powered or manually operated and may be capable of rotating about a substantially vertical axis. Employees must stand firmly on the floor of the basket and wear a Personal Fall Arrest System that is attached to an approved anchorage point on the boom or in the basket.
What training do I need for Scaffolding?
Each employee who performs work while on a scaffolding must be trained by a “qualified person” in the subject matter to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffolding being used and to understand the procedures to control or minimize those hazards.
Each employee who is involved in erecting, disassembling, moving, operating, repairing, maintaining or inspecting a scaffolding must be trained by a “competent person” to recognize any hazards associated with the specific work and to understand any pertinent requirement.
Whenever there is reason to believe that the employee lacks the skill or understanding needed for safe use, erection, or dismantling of scaffolding, you will need to retrain and revaluate the employee. This could be dangerous, as changes to the work site type of scaffold, fall protection, falling object protection, or other equipment present a hazard that the employee has not been previously trained to recognise and control.
So, what are the Standards for Scaffolding?
all scaffolding used in construction, including exclusive criteria for aerial lifts. Crane or derrick suspended personnel platforms are covered under a separate existing standard. There are 25 specific types of scaffolding listed in the scaffolding standards. This Toolbox Talk has not covered all of the specific requirements for these. We have reviewed the general highlights, however, and emphasise that all standards contain the minimum compliance requirements.
Health and Safety on Scaffolding Needs to be Stricter!
Each town and county in the United Kingdom and Solihull area we need their own approved plans (that are required) to adopt a comparable standard that is at least as stringent as the 1996 OSHA standards. States are also allowed to have more stringent requirements, so check your local standards carefully. For additional information or assistance, please contact your 3CU Loss Control consultant.
RG Scaffolding-Solihull: What’s our Conclusion?
So, considering that the main estimate of construction workers, which is 65%, frequently work on Scaffolding. The Job requirement presents a significant hazard that will need constant attention. Supervisors must never assume that employees will be cautious — or that each employee has received the correct and adequate training on previous jobsites before attending or using Scaffolding. So, to be aware, Scaffolding safety should be checked and reinforced during the many frequent health and safety meetings that may occur during working hours.
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