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Why scaffolds are so dangerous

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2018 | Firm News

As a New Jersey construction worker, you often must work on or near scaffolds. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that 65 percent of construction workers work on scaffolds, tall ladders, lifts and/or hoists every day, and such work puts you and them at high risk of injury.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries lists the following four reasons for 72 percent of scaffold injuries:

  1. The scaffold support or planking gives way.
  2. Workers slip and fall on or from scaffolds.
  3. An object falls from the scaffold and strikes them.
  4. The scaffold access mode is unsafe.

OSHA rules

Per OSHA regulations, a scaffold must support four times its own weight plus four times the maximum intended load. Each of its component parts likewise must meet this standard. In addition, each of its suspension ropes must support no less than six times the maximum intended weight.

Along with OSHA regulations regarding a scaffold’s construction, it also has regulations regarding regular inspections. For instance, a competent person must inspect each scaffold before each shift to make sure it has no visible defects. (S)he likewise must inspect the personal safety equipment you and your co-workers use when working on scaffolds, including the following:

  • Body belts
  • Harnesses
  • Anchors
  • Lanyards
  • Droplines
  • Trolley lines

Your own responsibility

Despite OSHA rules and regulations, you and your co-workers must undertake to keep your lives as safe as possible. Should you observe a scaffold problem, report it immediately to your supervisor. Also be sure to always wear and use the personal safety equipment that your employer must, by law, provide you. When walking underneath a scaffold, keep your entire body underneath it. Resist the temptation to stick your head out so as to see the things moving up and down the scaffold. This transporting period is one of the most dangerous times because it is exactly when the strongest likelihood exists that a tool or piece of equipment will fall and strike you.