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The dangers of scaffolding

On virtually all of your North Carolina construction jobs, you have to work on or around scaffolds. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirms that 65 percent of all construction workers do indeed work on or near scaffolding, tall ladders, hoists and/or lifts virtually every work day. This work, in turns, puts you at high risk for sustaining on-the-job injuries.

Per the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 72 percent of the injuries that construction workers like you sustain result from the following four situations:

  1. The supports and/or planking of the scaffolding on which you are standing give way.
  2. You fall off the scaffold.
  3. Something such as a tool falls off the scaffolding and hits you while you are underneath it.
  4. The access by which you get on and off the scaffolding is less than secure.

OSHA rules and regulations

OSHA sets forth numerous rules and regulations applying to scaffolds. For instance, each scaffold must hold four times its weight, as well as four times the maximum weight for which it is built. In addition, each of the scaffold’s component parts must also meet these standards. The suspension ropes must hold a minimum of six times their respective intended weights.

OSHA likewise sets forth numerous rules and regulations regarding a scaffold’s construction and the inspections thereof. Before each shift, a “competent person” must inspect not only the scaffold itself, but also your following pieces of personal safety equipment:

  • Droplines
  • Body belts
  • Lanyards
  • Harnesses
  • Trolley lines
  • Anchors

Maintaining your safety

Regardless of OSHA’s rules and regulations, however, you and your co-workers bear personal responsibility for your own safety. It goes without saying that you should always wear and/or use the personal safety equipment provided to you by your employer. When you walk underneath a scaffold, be sure to keep your whole body underneath it rather than craning your neck to watch whatever things may be going up or down the scaffold. You face the highest risk of something falling off the scaffold and hitting you whenever tools and/or equipment are going up or down. Finally, report to your supervisor immediately any problems you encounter with the scaffolding.

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