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Scaffold Safety

April 30, 2012

Every single day 2.3 million construction workers are working on scaffolds, thats a whopping 65% of the construction industry! Proper safety measures would prevent the estimated 4,500 injuries and 50 fatalities each year.

 ” 72% of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.”

- Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS)

Suspended Scaffolds - Platforms suspended by ropes, or the non rigid means, from an overhead structure.

There are 7 types of suspended scaffolds:

  1. Two Point-supported by hangers suspended by two ropes from overhead supports and equipped to lower or raise the platform.
  2. Single point-suspended from one rope overhead and equipped to be raised or lowered.
  3. Catenary – supported by two horizontal ropes attached to structural members of a building.
  4. Multi-Point Adjustable Platform, suspended by two or more ropes overhead and equipped to be raised or lowered, also includes chimney supports.
  5. Interior Hung, suspended from ceiling or roof by fixed lengths supports.
  6. Needle Beam, suspended by needle beams.
  7. Multi-level, two point or multi adjustable suspension scaffold with a series of platforms at various levels resting on common stirrups.
  8. Float-braced platforms, resting on two parallel bearers and hung from overhead supports by ropes and fixed length.

Supported Scaffolds- One or more platforms supported by outrigger beams, bracket, poles, legs, uprights, posts, and frames.

There are 7 types of supported scaffolds:

  1. Frame Scaffold or Fabricated Frame-supported on fabricated end frames with intregal posts, horizontal bearers, and intermediate members.
  2. Manually Propelled/ Mobile Scaffold-unpowered, portable, caster or wheel mounted.
  3. Pump Jack, supported by vertical poles and movable support brackets.
  4. Ladder Jack, reted on brackets attached to ladders.
  5. Tube and Coupler, supported by tubing and erected by coupling devices connecting uprights,braces, bearers, and runners.
  6. Pole-posts, fixed connection points that fit runners, bearers, and diagonals that can be interconnected at different levels.
  7. Specialty, scaffolds designed for a narrow and specific range of applications such as plasterers, bricklayers, chicken ladders, and horse scaffolds.

Recommendations to prevent accidents while working on scaffolding are as follows:

  • Scaffold must be sufficient to carry its own weight as well as four times the maximum intended load. It should be able to do this without settling or displacement.
  • It must be erected on solid footing.
  • Objects found around the construction site such as barrels, boxes, loose bricks and concrete blocks must not be used to support scaffolds.
  • Scaffold should not be erected, moved, dismantled or altered except under the supervision.
  •  Scaffold must be equipped with guard rails, mid rails and toe boards.
  • Scaffold accessories such as braces, brackets, trusses, screw legs or ladders that are damaged or weakened from any cause must be immediately repaired or replaced.
  • Scaffold platforms must be tightly planked with scaffold plank grade material or equivalent.
  • The scaffold should be inspected at designated intervals.
  • Rigging on suspension scaffolds must be inspected before and after each shift.  This will ensure that all connections are tight, as well as no damage to the rigging has occurred since its last use.
  • Synthetic and natural rope used in suspension scaffolding must be protected from heat-producing sources.
  • Employees must be instructed about the hazards of using diagonal braces as fall protection.
  • Scaffolds must be at least 10 feet from electric power lines at all times.



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