construction workers on tall scaffoldingAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10,000 construction workers are injured every year in scaffolding accidents. Scaffolding ranked third on OSHA’s 2014 Top Ten List of the most frequently cited standards with 5,423 violations. Since an estimated 2.3 million workers, or 65% of the construction industry, work on scaffolds, it’s clear that employers must increase their vigilance to protect workers from scaffold-related accidents.

Some key provisions of OSHA’s Scaffolding Standard include:

  • Fall protection or fall arrest systems are required for workers more than 10 feet above a lower level;
  • Guardrails and crossbracing must comply with specified heights;
  • Midrails must be installed approximately halfway between the toprail and the platform surface;
  • Support scaffold footings must be level and capable of supporting the loaded scaffold;
  • Supported scaffold platforms must be fully planked or decked;
  • Supported scaffolds with a height-to-base of more than 4:1 must be restrained from tipping by guying, tying, bracing or the equivalent;
  • Scaffolds and scaffold components must support at least 4 times the maximum intended load; suspension scaffold rigging must support at least 6 times the intended load;
  • Employers must train each employee who works on a scaffold on the hazards and the procedures to control the hazards;
  • A competent person must inspect the scaffold and components for visible defects before each work shift and after any occurrence that could affect the structural integrity;
  • When erecting and dismantling supported scaffolds, a competent person must determine the feasibility of providing a safe means of access and fall protection.

The OSHA Training Center recommends consulting OSHA’s detailed publication A Guide to Scaffold Use in the Construction Industry.

The OSHA Training Center is offering OTC 301 – Scaffolding Safety Standards at its San Francisco Bay Area location in Dublin, California, on July 13-15, 2015. This 3-day course, which includes hands-on exercises, covers OSHA compliance standards for various types of scaffolding, including supported, suspended and aerial lifts; how scaffolds work; and how to perform basic load analysis.