According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 2.3 million construction workers — or 65 percent of the industry — work on scaffolds. It is a dangerous job: 4,500 scaffold-related injuries and 60 scaffold-related deaths hit job sites in the U.S. each year. That adds up to $90 million in lost work days.
As a site manager, one of your main priorities – in addition to delivering customer satisfaction – is scaffolding safety. Once scaffolding goes up, it is not just a set-it-and-forget-it addition to the job site. So, how can you effectively protect your crew on your next job?
1. Use High-Quality, Properly Installed Equipment
Of the workers injured in scaffold-related accidents, 72 percent attributed the incident to either the planking, support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.
What does that tell us? Well, for starters it indicates that the scaffolding in use may not be properly designed and deployed. A poorly designed scaffolding system can have disastrous consequences. If your job requires non-slick surfaces or special materials, any missing component could mean injury or worse for your team members.
Train your employees to recognize deficient, noncompliant and/or damaged structures, including missing essential safety components like Toeboards, Planks, or Guardrails. Also, consider working with a scaffolding manufacturer that provides application engineering to ensure you have the correct equipment for your project requirements.
2. Ensure Proper Training
A key scaffolding safety issue is whether or not the scaffold has been erected by trained professionals. Erection and dismantling must be done by competent persons to ensure a solid work space for overhead workers and a solid foundation to keep the scaffold stable.
In addition to being trained and up to date on OSHA requirements, all workers must be properly trained on setup, construction of scaffolding, how to handle materials and load capacities. Proper training should also be given on the type of scaffolding they are working on and the complexity of the scaffold being erected or dismantled.
3. Keep the Site Clean and Organized
You have likely heard the saying, “A clean job site is a safe job site. Still, “Housekeeping” is one of the most cited OSHA safety infractions. People who tend to leave a mess have a higher chance of tripping over equipment or slipping over messy work areas and causing accidents. Make sure all workers follow standard procedures to secure the job site before leaving for the day. This might include dewatering, removing debris, and ensuring all equipment is properly and securely stored.
4. Keep Your FLRA Updated
Refer back to your field level risk assessment (FLRA) on a periodic basis to identify hazards that may not have been previously documented. Review processes for material handling, power lines, inclement weather, and load-carrying capacity to keep these potential hazards top of mind and add to the list when needed. As workers get accustomed to a job site, they are less likely to be on alert to potential safety issues. A regular review of your FLRA can help prevent oversight and avoid simple mistakes that could affect job site safety.
No matter where you are or what job you are on, safety is nonnegotiable. If you need scaffolding that you can trust to get the job done while protecting the safety of your workers, please contact us online today or call the branch office closest to you. We’ll begin the process of finding a scaffolding solution that meets your unique needs.