As you probably know, another national Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction has come and gone.
But although the Safety Stand-Down is past, the risk (and reality) of falls in construction has not.
As a result, we're taking a closer look at some issues related to falls in construction in a series of articles. This article will focus on fall hazards related to scaffolds. Every year, falls from scaffolds lead to a large number of injuries and fatalities on the job.
In addition to this article, we've also put together the following ones related to falls, fall prevention, and fall protection for the Safety Stand-Down:
Also, check out the bottom of this article, because we've included a free Fall Prevention Toolbox Talk Checklist for you.
First, let's talk about the risk. Is there a safety risk associated with scaffolds in construction? You bet there is! Every year, construction workers experience injuries and even fatalities when falling from construction when no fall protection was used.
There's a lot to learn about using scaffolds safely, and this article isn't a substitute for full and proper scaffold safety training or job experience, but it IS a good start.
If you don't set a scaffold up properly, it's much more likely to lead to injuries or fatalities. To work properly and safely, scaffolds must be set up with:
Be sure to use base plates, which are also sometimes called screw jacks, and mud sills on the base for extra support.
Finally, make sure there are screw jacks for leveling inserted into the legs of the scaffold.
This investment in time when setting up the scaffold is well worth it in terms of risk reduction.
OSHA requires that you use some form of fall protection if the working deck of your scaffold is 10 feet or higher.
The fall protection may take the form of a guardrail system or a personal fall arrest system. Just be sure to use one--it's the law, but it's also a very good idea for safety.
If you'll be putting on a fall protection harness, make sure you properly inspect and wear it and use it safely. Your employer should cover all this in your fall prevention & protection training.
Before anyone uses a scaffold, a competent person must check to see that:
Never get on a scaffold that wasn't put up by a competent person.
A robust and effective safety training program will take advantage of a blended learning solution that utilizes classroom-based instructor-led training, field-based training, hands-on training, written training materials, videos, online elearning courses, field-based performance support, refresher training, and more.
An online supported scaffold safety training course like the one sampled below can be a great addition to such a training
Scaffolds are very helpful, but they also present a number of unique and potentially fatal hazards when used on the job.
Following these tips will move you in the right direction toward working with scaffolds safely. Of course, don't stop here--there's plenty more to learn about working safely when on a scaffold.
The free Fall Prevention Toolbox Talk Checklist below includes materials to help you lead toolbox talks on fall-related topics such as ladder safety, scaffolding safety, and roofing work safety--get it now.