Scaffold safety is one of the biggest areas where companies can save lives and prevent serious injuries. OSHA revised its scaffold safety standard in 1996 when it was discovered that 25% of workers who were injured in scaffolding accidents had received no safety training. 77% of scaffolds at that time weren’t equipped with guardrails.
Injuries and deaths from scaffolding accidents can happen not just from falls. They can also occur when a scaffold collapses, when workers are struck by falling tools or work materials, and due to electrocution if the scaffold is located too close to power lines.
OSHA has estimated that if companies and employees follow safety guidelines, approximately 50 lives could be saved each year and 4,500 accidents prevented yearly.
There are three main categories of scaffolding, and each has its own safety guidelines:
- Supported scaffolds (the type most people think of when they hear the term “scaffold”) — one or more platforms supported by poles, legs, frames, outriggers, or other rigid support, placed under the platform.
- Suspended scaffolds — one or more platforms supported by ropes or other non-rigid, overhead support.
- Other miscellaneous scaffold types — this category consists mainly of machine-type scaffolding, including manlifts and personnel hoists.
We’re going to look at the first two categories of scaffolding in the next two posts, and go over the safety guidelines for each, as well as the best uses for each type of scaffold.