Injuries and fatalities are all too common when working on scaffolds that are not properly erected or inspected.
Incidents involving scaffolding account for 4,500 workplace injuries and 50 deaths per year. Scaffolding is consistently among the top 10 most recently cited OSHA standards violations. Follow the tips below to stay safe on the job.
- Have a Competent Person and Qualified Person, as defined by OSHA 1926.451, perform their required duties to train employees, design/construct/load/inspect scaffolds, authorize prompt corrective actions and make safe work determinations.
- Do not mix scaffold components from different manufacturers.
- Use firm foundation (base plates, mud sills, etc.) for the scaffold’s poles, legs, posts, frames and uprights.
- Ensure the structural members are plumb and braced to prevent swaying and displacement.
- Use braces/restraints on supported scaffolds with a height-to-base width ratio of more than 4:1 to prevent them from tipping.
- On suspension scaffolds, install a minimum of three wire rope clips at least six rope diameters apart.
- Plank and deck each platform as fully as possible – no more than 1 inch of space between the platform and uprights.
- Ensure each scaffold platform and walkway is at least 18 inches wide.
- Ensure the scaffold and each component will support, without failure, its own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load.
- Do not load scaffolds and scaffold components in excess of their maximum intended loads or rated capacities, whichever is less.
- Ensure the platform does not deflect more than 1/60 of the span when loaded.
- Do not clutter platforms with debris.
- Keep all tools and equipment away from the edge of the platform, only keep the ones you need on the scaffold, and remove them at the end of the day.
- Never climb cross braces – only use ladders, ramps/walkways or stairs to access scaffolds.
- Use guardrails and/or personal fall arrest systems on a scaffold platform that is more than 10 feet above a lower level to protect each employee from falling.
- Only allow the erection and dismantling crews to use the scaffold until guardrails are installed along all open sides.
- Lock casters and wheels on mobile scaffolds.
- Wear hard hats when assembling or disassembling scaffolds and when working on or near a scaffold.