Working safely with scaffolding

Scaffolding injuries can be severe; workers who fall from scaffolding can fall several stories, and those struck by objects that fall off scaffolding could suffer traumatic brain injuries or other related injuries. Some of the most common construction accidents involve scaffolding, ladders, hoists and lifts.

It's important for the scaffolding to be constructed well and to be reasonably safe. If an employer fails to follow safety regulations or if co-workers violate safety protocols, then it's possible for someone to get hurt. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has regulations that scaffolding must conform to that your employer should be familiar with. For example, if a suspension rope is used to support the scaffolding, it needs to hold at least six times the maximum intended load. Each type of scaffold or scaffold component has to support its own weight as well as four times the weight of the maximum intended load.

Of course, no amount of weight-bearing capability does any good if the scaffolding isn't put together right, which is why a thorough inspection is important. Employers should always require at least one competent person to inspect scaffolding before it is used. This person should understand how to move, dismantle or alter the equipment as well as understanding how to recognize defects before use. If a scaffold is going to be taken apart or changed, it should be done under the supervision of the person who understands how the scaffolding works.

Workers should also wear personal fall protection equipment every time they are on a scaffold as well as hard hats if they will be walking near, around or under a scaffold. Taking these steps can help reduce the risk of injuries. If an injury still happens, workers' compensation should kick in to cover the cost.

Source: FindLaw, "Scaffold Injuries," accessed Oct. 28, 2016

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