OSHA Safety Requirements for Scaffolding
Working at heights often requires scaffolding to enable workers to reach elevated locations and execute their job duties. While using scaffolds makes performing these tasks easier, it poses certain safety risks. Construction contractors, window washers, masons, carpenters, building restoration crews, maintenance workers and others who use this equipment must adhere to stringent scaffolding safety requirements.
Examples of the more common scaffolding hazards include:
- Falls: Workers can fall off a scaffold due to inadequate fall arrest systems, incorrectly installed guardrails or unsafe access to work platforms.
- Electrocution: Some scaffolding projects require working near power lines, increasing the risk of electrocution.
- Falling objects: Even the most careful, conscientious workers could drop a tool or accidentally knock materials off the platform. Without the use of toe boards and netting, falling tools and other objects could strike people on the ground.
- Collapses: A scaffolding platform that bears excess weight or has a missing or loose plank is susceptible to a potentially dangerous collapse.
How to Ensure the Safety of Your Scaffolding Project
While it's impossible to eliminate the dangers that accompany working at elevation, companies and their crews can take steps to lower the risk. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed a set of regulations designed to create a safer work environment and reduce the likelihood of accidents. Failure to adhere to these OSHA scaffolding requirements can lead to significant fines and penalties.
OSHA Safety and Bracing Specifications
OSHA initially adopted its first set of scaffolding bracing requirements and other safety regulations in 1971. Twenty-five years later, the agency revised the guidelines to make them performance-based, meaning that companies have the flexibility to determine the steps they take to ensure regulatory compliance. The 1996 revisions also address the safe use of fall protection systems and safety training requirements.
Maintaining Workplace Safety and OSHA Standards Safety
While OSHA scaffolding requirements are comprehensive and cover various areas, the questions users have regarding the regulations fall into a few specific categories:
- Competent person: OSHA stipulates that only a "competent person," an individual who can identify particular hazards or potentially adverse working conditions, should perform certain scaffolding safety-related functions. These include overseeing tasks such as hiring and directing the employees who erect and dismantle the equipment, training the workers and conducting safety inspections.
- Guardrail use: According to OSHA working platform requirements, any scaffolding platform that is more than 10 feet above a lower level must have guardrails on all open sides for fall protection.
- Inspection frequency: A competent person must check the scaffold for obvious defects before each shift and after any occurrence that could impact its stability and structural integrity.
- Load capacity: OSHA 1926.451(a)(1) states that the scaffold must be able to support its own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load. Also, a qualified person must design the scaffolding system.
- Support from heavy equipment: Scaffolding users can implement forklifts for elevation only if the platform is attached to the fork and the machine does not move horizontally when the platform is holding workers. Workers can use front-end loaders if they have been specifically designed for supporting scaffolding.
- Planking requirements: The planking installed on scaffolding platforms must be able to support its own weight and at least four times the weight of the intended load.
- Material storage: Users can only keep enough tools, materials and supplies on the scaffolding to accommodate the current work shift. They cannot store materials overnight to prepare for the next day.
OSHA Safety Training for Scaffolding
According to OSHA compliance guidelines, employers must provide adequate training for their workers who use scaffolding equipment. The general training requirements include:
- Users: Employees who perform work activities on scaffolding must receive equipment-specific training from a qualified individual. The training should entail the proper use of the scaffold and how to recognize potential hazards.
- Erectors and disassemblers: Employees involved in constructing, disassembling, moving, maintaining, repairing, operating or inspecting scaffolds must receive function-specific training. Examples of specific topics include the correct procedures for performing each of these tasks, the nature of scaffold hazards, and the build's intended use and maximum intended load-carrying capacity.
- Retraining: When employers have reason to believe that a worker lacks the skills or understanding required for the safe use, building or dismantling of scaffolding equipment, they must retrain the individual until he or she gains proficiency.
Training Services From International Equipment
IE is a full-service scaffolding solutions provider with more than 20 years of experience. We recognize the importance of safety when working with any scaffolding type — that's why we make it a top priority in everything we do. You can count on us to ensure that your employees understand how to use the equipment correctly. Our training helps to prevent mishaps that could lead to severe accidents and injuries.
Our training also helps your company comply with OSHA rolling scaffold regulations, as well as those for stationary equipment. Your crews can attain certification that enables them to work on various immovable and movable structures. We can train your employees on equipment including swing stages, cuplock and frame scaffolding, perimeter protection and stair towers.
As a medium-sized company, we can provide a level of personalized service our larger competitors can't match. We're able to customize our training to the type of equipment your company uses to serve your workforce more effectively. You'll enjoy more peace of mind knowing your crews are fully prepared for whatever safety issues they experience at the job site.
Industries We Serve
Our convenient location in Crete, Illinois, enables International Equipment to deliver fast, reliable training solutions to companies throughout the Chicago area and beyond. We serve companies in construction, demolition, emergency restoration, utilities and other industries that require safe, reliable scaffolding equipment.
Contact Us to Learn More
Do you have questions about the basic rules of scaffolding? Would you like to know more about our safety training services? Feel free to give us a call at (800) 675-3231 or fill out and submit our online contact form today.