As a work platform, scaffolding makes all kinds of construction work possible. Though built for temporary use, scaffolding needs to safely support workers and their equipment while they are elevated. Whether supported or suspended, scaffolding can pose sizable risks to workers if they’re not installed correctly and used safely.
Common Scaffold Accidents
Construction work has many safety risks, especially when working on a support structure that is less than ideal. Common scaffold accidents include:
- Blunt force impact injuries from tools or debris falling off of scaffolding
- Electrocution, either from working with improper or non-existent grounding or by contact with power lines
- Falling from an unstable scaffold
- A collapse or detachment of the temporary structure which causes support failure at a high elevation
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enacted new safety standards for construction scaffolding back in 1996. With standards long in place, why are construction workers still suffering catastrophic injuries and dying from scaffolding accidents? The answer lies in the lack of adherence to the safety practices put forth by the standards.
Everyone Can Play a Part
Everyone on the construction work site can play a role in ensuring the optimal amount of safety on and around scaffolding, preventing possibly thousands of accidents and several deaths per year.
- Make sure that proper personnel erect scaffolding and inspect it before use
- Provide safety training for all construction employees
- Discourage unauthorized uses of scaffolding (overloading or altering)
- Use both hands when climbing in or out of scaffolding
- Alert site management of any change in scaffolding stability or function
- Never use a ladder while on scaffolding
Taking a shortcut on safety is never a good idea, especially when work on a scaffold is so demanding and requires full attention to safety.