To perform certain jobs on a project, construction workers may need to use elevated platforms known as scaffolds. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, these temporary work platforms may include supported scaffolds or suspended platforms. When working on scaffolding, workers face several hazards, which may contribute to the occurrence of occupational injuries or deaths.
Therefore, it behooves workers to understand the types of hazards that come with working on scaffolds and how scaffolding accidents may be prevented.
What are the hazards associated with working on scaffolding?
Elevating workers, often to significant heights, scaffolding presents numerous risks for suffering serious injuries or death on the job. Some of the most common hazards associated with working on scaffolding include the following:
- Collapses caused by overloading or instability
- Falls from heights because of a lack of fall protection
- Electrocution due to unsafe proximity to overhead power lines
Workers on or below scaffolds in use on construction sites may also suffer injuries as a result of getting struck by falling work materials, debris or tools.
How can scaffolding accidents be prevented?
According to OSHA, an estimated 50 deaths and 4,500 worker injuries may be avoided by taking steps to keep workers safe from scaffolding accidents. Some solutions to ensuring the safety of workers on these platforms include erecting scaffolding on solid footing; ensuring the scaffolding has the appropriate soundness, rigidity and maximum weight capacity; and making certain the scaffolding is tightly planked with the appropriate materials. Additionally, scaffolding should be equipped with toe boards, mid-rails and guardrails. Only competent workers should get tasked with inspecting scaffolding and checking the rigging on suspension scaffolds.