In California, construction-related scaffolding accidents commonly happen on worksites, putting workers at risk for injury or death. Although construction companies are required to make worksites safe for employees, accidents still occur due to negligence, improper safety measures and other issues.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 65% of construction workers use scaffolding frequently, contributing to some of the most common worksite accidents. OSHA has specific regulations in place for scaffolding to guide employers and increase worker safety.
Proper design and construction
OSHA regulations dictate the equipment type, construction methods, rating capacities and use for scaffolds and components.
Defective scaffold components or improperly installed scaffolding is the underlying cause of many scaffold accidents. Properly completed scaffolds and components must be able to support their weight plus an additional four times the maximum load they must bear without failure. The suspension ropes must also support six or more times their intended load.
Scaffolding must be adequately maintained and inspected regularly to prevent scaffold failures and construction work injuries. Equipment not receiving attention and maintenance can fail, exposing workers to equipment failure, accidents and potential injury.
Employers must have a competent worker inspect all scaffolds and components before each work shift to identify any visible defects. Employers should ensure a qualified individual supervises the work if the scaffolding needs to be dismantled, moved, built or changed.
Personal fall protection equipment
Workers need training specific to scaffolding to work safely and reduce risk, which includes using equipment to protect them from falls.
A competent individual should inspect all personal fall protection equipment before each shift. Items include body harnesses or belts, lanyards, trollery lines, drop lines and anchorage points. A supervisor should immediately remove from use any equipment that shows visible damage or excessive wear.
Understanding and mitigating the risks of improperly constructed or maintained scaffolding can keep workers safe, prevent worksite injuries and save lives.