If you are like most construction workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that you probably perform many of your jobs while perched on scaffolding. FindLaw concurs that 65% of construction workers do so. This, however, puts you at high risk for injury.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries lists the top four scaffolding hazards as follows:
- Your scaffold’s planking and/or supports give way.
- You fall from the scaffold.
- A tool or other object falls off the scaffold and strikes you.
- You access the scaffold through insecure means.
OSHA rules and regulations
Recognizing the dangers inherent to scaffolding, OSHA has established various rules and regulations pertaining to your safety while working on a scaffold. For instance, your employer must provide you with the following pieces of personal safety equipment:
- Body belt
- Trolley line
In addition, OSHA mandates that a scaffold must hold four times its own weight, as well as four times the maximum weight its building specifications call for. As for suspension ropes, they must hold at least six times their intended weight.
Finally, OSHA regulations call for a “competent person” from your company to inspect both the scaffold and your personal safety equipment prior to each shift.
Despite these rules and regulations, you need to take a proactive approach to your own safety. Always wear your protective clothing and devices when working on a scaffold. Always immediately report any problems you encounter with scaffolding to your supervisor. Perhaps most importantly, never stick your head out when walking underneath a scaffold. Why? Because even something as innocuous as a screwdriver falling off it could severely injure you.