A scaffold is a structure made of metal pipes or lumber. It is used mainly on construction sites and for repair work on buildings. Scaffolds have supported or suspended platforms on which workers can stand and keep work materials. Scaffolding is temporary and is removed once the construction or renovation is complete. Proper construction of scaffolds and implementation of scaffolding safety regulations can reduce the number of falls and accidents.
The site on which a scaffolding is to be constructed must be level and firm. Loose or soft soil, snow and ice must be removed prior to installation and replaced with gravel or stones. Scaffolding must have secure base plates that are capable of withstanding the weight of the scaffold and the entire load on it.
Choice of Scaffold
Before selecting a scaffold, an employer must consider several factors such as site requirements, number of workers, surrounding scenario, public safety and duration of the project. Before installation of scaffolding, the employer must ensure that the correct product has been delivered and that it meets the weight requirements.
A scaffold must have a safety rating of four or more. Such a scaffold can bear a load that is up to four times its rated capacity. The scaffold must not be overloaded beyond a safe limit. All the different components of scaffolding, such as the joints and the fasteners, must have the same capacity.
A qualified engineer or a person who is familiar with scaffolding safety regulations must design and supervise the installation of the scaffolding. Every time scaffolding is modified in any manner or is moved, a qualified person must check it before it is used again.
Scaffolds must be kept a safe distance away from electric grids and power lines. For high voltage lines, a minimum distance of 10 feet is essential.
If there is a storm or heavy wind, a worker must not climb on the scaffolding unless he is using fall protection or a wind screen. If there is snow or ice on the scaffolding, workers can only climb on it to remove the ice and snow and to resume work in clear conditions.
Workers must have safe access to scaffolding, especially when work requires a gap or 2 feet or more between the work area and the scaffold. The access must be sturdy and safe. Some examples of such access are ladders or ramps.
All workers on a scaffold higher than 10 feet must have adequate fall protection in the form of a harness. All open sides of the scaffold must have guardrails as well. To prevent trips and falls, workers must keep scaffold platforms clear of clutter.
All workers who use a scaffold must be trained by a qualified person and must be aware of safety requirements. If the work conditions change and the type or use of scaffolding changes, the training must be updated and provided again. A worker who assembles or repairs scaffolding must be adequately trained and familiar with safety requirements.
On a regular basis, a qualified person must inspect scaffolding for signs of cracks, loose fasteners or bolts. Such problems must be fixed and the scaffolding tested before it is used again.