More than half of scaffold accidents in construction are falls, and even a number of these caused fatalities. The statistics only highlights further the value of safely using scaffolding.
Here are several hazards to watch out for when using scaffolding:
Falls from elevation
This is the most common scaffolding hazard. Preventing falls from heights, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires that proper fall protection be placed on all scaffolds suspended over 10 feet above ground. A personal fall arrest system or a guardrail system must be utilized at all times.
Another cause of scaffold-related incidents is unsecured planking. When planks are uncleated or not secured enough, they might slip off and cause the worker to fall. Planks also have tendency to break if overloaded or in poor condition that is why it is important that proper grades of lumber is used and that planks are inspected thoroughly. Another problem related to planks is insufficient or excessive overhang. When a worker stands on a overhanging position, this may tip up and cause a fall.
Getting struck by falling tools or debris
More often than not, scaffolding-related injuries involve being struck with falling debris. This is why guardrails are an important component of scaffold construction, not only to protect the worker from falling but also to prevent any material from falling off a scaffold and hitting people below.
Electricity is a major risk when it comes to using scaffolds since electrical lines are usually elevated making the scaffold user prone to contact with such lines. Safety standards require scaffolds and workers to maintain a secure clearance from power lines. Ideal clearance is 10 feet if the voltage is less than 50 kV (kilovolts) and more than 10 feet and 4 inches for every 1 kV over 50 kV.
Paying attention to these basic hazards will dramatically reduce accidents in the workplace and even save lives.
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