According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 157 people died because of scaffolding accidents between 2007 and 2008. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) believes that these fatalities could have been controlled and possibly prevented had the scaffolding complied with OSHA standards. These standards are set forth in Subpart D of the OSHA Standards.
Scaffold Supports Must Exceed Maximum Intended Loads
Scaffolds must be constructed in such a way that they can support at least four times of the maximum intended load. The intended load will vary depending on each site utilising scaffolds.
Inspect and Repair Scaffolds Regularly
In addition to meeting support requirements, the scaffold should be properly constructed so that the structure is "sound, rigid, and capable of carrying the maximum intended load without settling or displacement," according to OSHA. Therefore, scaffolds should be regularly inspected for damage or weakness; and each defect found should be "immediately repaired" or else the scaffold should not be used, according to OSHA. Additionally, the scaffold poles or legs should be rigid and secure and must not sway side to side.
Planking on the scaffolds should overlap each other at least by a foot or else be secured from moving. Additionally, the planks must extend over the supports of the scaffold by at least 6 inches (but not more than 18 inches).
Use Ladders, Guard Rails and Safety Equipment
OSHA also sets forth standards regarding ladders, crash barriers and safety equipment. In general, scaffolds must have a ladder or some other safe means of accessing higher levels of the scaffolding. Open sides of the scaffold must have a crash barrier installed and toe boards (raised boards indicating the edge of the scaffold) should be installed to prevent workers from falling off. Additionally, workers must wear proper headgear when working on a scaffold. Further, scaffolds should not be used in hazardous conditions, such as high winds.
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