#YHSafetyTips - Scaffold Safety

Posted by Matt Bushey in #YHSafetyTips, Mar 15, 2017

Scaffolds need to follow certain safety criteria to ensure that workers will not fall off.

Many different hazards ending in a fall must be taken into consideration:

  • - Do not climb or lean over scaffold guardrails
  • - Weather such as snow, ice, and rain can result in a slip and fall
  • - Equipment left on scaffolds can make a tripping hazard

Fall Protection
On heights higher than 10 feet that do not have a guardrail system, you are required to use fall protection. We have many different solutions when it comes to Fall Protection.

Scaffolds come in many different configurations and designs.

There are suspended scaffolds which are platforms suspended by ropes or other non-ridged means from an overhead structure.
These include:

  • - Float (ship)
  • - Catenary
  • - Multi-level
  • - Needle Beam
  • - Two-point (swing stage)
  • - Interior Hung
  • - Multi-point Adjustable
  • - Single-point Adjustable

Supported Scaffolds have one or more platforms by outrigger beams, brackets, poles, legs, uprights, posts, frames, or similar rigid support.
These include:

  • - Ladder Jack
  • - Mast Climbers
  • - Pump Jack
  • - Specialty
  • - Tube and Coupler
  • - Pole or Wood Pole
  • - Mobile (Manually or Propelled)
  • - Frame Scaffold or Fabricated Frame

Scissor Lifts and aerial lifts can also be used to position a worker higher up. These do not use planking and can be moved and repositioned rather quickly.
Scaffolds must be plumb, level, and squared.

To prevent collapse of the scaffold, to secure vertical members together laterally and to automatically square and align vertical members, scaffolds must be braced by:

  • - Cross-braces
  • - Horizontal braces
  • - Diagonal braces
  • - Or a combination of braces

All brace connections must be secured
To prevent movement of the scaffold while it is being used in a stationary position, scaffold casters and wheels must be locked with:

  • - Positive wheel locks
  • - Wheel and swivel locks
  • - And/or equivalent means

Caster stems and wheel stems in scaffold legs or adjustment screws must be:

  • - Pinned
  • - Or otherwise secured

Platforms must not extend beyond the base supports of the scaffold, unless stability is ensured by:

  • - Outrigger frames
  • - Equivalent devices

Leveling of the scaffold, where necessary, must be achieved by the use of:

  • - Screw jacks
  • - Equivalent means

Planking giving way is the #1 cause of scaffold incidents in the U.S.A.
Almost 25% of workers receive no safety training for erecting scaffolds and installing work platforms.

Lumber Grading:
Scaffold-grade lumber will withstand 1/3 more the capacity of ordinary, construction-grade wood.

To meet scaffold grade the lumber must meet the following criteria:

  • - The number of rings per inch (6 or more)
  • - The slope of the grain (1 inch to the side for every 16 inches along the length of the board for Douglas Fir, 1/14 for Southern Pine.
  • - The number of defects, such as knots and notches.

However, because a scaffold plank may still be in service long after the grade stamp on it has faded, workers should pay attention to the quality and condition of the planking, whether it bears a stamp or not.

Wood Condition:
Wood must be watched as it ages. The wood will begin to show splits, checks, and notches. The wood will change based on loads, how it is carried, weather, and time of use.

Planks with cracks that go through the wood and more than a few inches cannot remain in service.

These are small checks on the ends of planks. These need watched as they can become a splits over time.

These are cracks that are on the surface of the wood only and do not go through the wood. These need watched as they can develop into splits overtime.

Paint and other layers:
Scaffolds cannot be used if they have accumulated a lot of paint, plaster, or other materials. It is impossible to determine the condition of a scaffold plank with layers of other materials on them.

Always check your scaffolds from the bracing to the platforms to ensure that they conform to OSHA regulations.

If you haven't read last week’s post on Fire Extinguishers, check it out here. Next week we will be writing about OSHA Safety Signs.

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