“Long Way – up, Long Way Down” is the phrase used for the most common accident involving scaffold safety. Falls from high places are usually serious. Studies show that half of all people hitting a hard surface with a velocity of 18 miles per hour- that’s 27-feet per second- will be killed. This means you could die from a fall of only 11-feet. 90% of all falls involving scaffolds happen while workers are performing routine jobs and that the average height of those falls are 12 to 15 feet. A 200-pound man falling at a distance of 6-feet produces 1200 pounds of force.
A trained “Competent Person” should be used to supervise all scaffold erections. A “Competent Person” must be able to take prompt action to eliminate predictable hazards. Logically then, he/she should be within line of site of erection, dismantling, or alteration activity.
A lot can go wrong when working on scaffolding. We talked to safety experts about some safety essentials when working from heights. Here are your top 10 tips for scaffolding safety. On Christmas Eve 2009, four migrant workers fell to their death from a suspended scaffold 13 storeys high after the platform they were standing on snapped. A fifth worker suffered severe injuries. The incident resulted in both criminal and OHS charges filed against three men and Matron Construction Corps.
Despite the dangers it poses, however, working on a scaffold can be straightforward and safe if everyone involved follows procedures.
Provincial and federal occupational safety laws outline specific duties and responsibilities for employers, supervisors and workers. Knowing the rules and regulations is in everyone’s Good designed Scaffold for safe work best interest.
What are the rules and regulations in Scaffold Safety?
- Ensure everyone is properly trained. Safety regulations require that workers trained in the design and operation of scaffolding. Training covers important safe work practices such as how to safely get on and off the scaffold.
- Take the time for preparation work. Before using scaffolding, make sure the base is sound, level and adjusted; that the legs are plumb and all braces in place; that locking devices and ties are secure. Check the location for ground conditions, such as slopes, and stay clear hazards such as overhead wires, obstructions and changes in surface elevation.
- Keep it legal. CSA standard committees have identified “rogue employers” as a obstacle to scaffold safety. “These are employers who fly under the radar and operate without significant license“.
- Know and respect the load capacity. According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, failure to consider all the loads to which the scaffold may be subjected is one of the top things that go wrong at the design stage. The scaffold must be strong enough and capable of holding desired weight, otherwise it could collapse. Don’t try to fit more workers on the platform than it handle; don’t overload it with equipment and materials; and don’t rest anything on the guardrails.
- Ensure the scaffold is properly secured. The scaffold must adequately braced or tied to building. If it is wrapped in a trap for protection from the elements, it could blow over if it is secured.
- Use guardrails. The design of the scaffold must incorporate guardrails on at least the three side facing away from the building if the scaffold is more than 10 feet above ground. There should a top rail, a mid rail and a bottom rail (toe board). If you must remove any guardrails while hoisting materials, replace them promptly. Wear fall protection at all times.
- Inspect and maintain. Scaffolding must routinely inspected by the supervisor and by competent person- ideally a professional engineer or a person designated in writing by professional engineer. In the case of a suspended platform, inspect and test all components including welds, stirrups, connecting pins, connecting plates, trusses, beams and working sure Check that the lumber is of good quality.
- Good housekeeping. There isn’t much room on a scaffold, so it’s important to store tools a materials in an orderly fashion. Keep the platform free of obstructions. Place debris and waste material in a container or remove it from the platform immediately.
- Keep your balance. A scaffold and its platform must be perfectly level (CSA standard says it mustn’t deviate from the vertical by more than 12 millimeters per three meters of height) to minimize the risk of workers losing balance and falling off. Particularly on swing stages, there must be an adequately weighted counterweight. Pay attention when working on a scaffold. Any sudden movements, or reaching too far from the platform, can cause a loss of balance.
- Use appropriate PPE. This includes head protection, non-slip protective footwear and fall protection as required, in the form of a safety harness tied off to a solid structure, such as the building.