Let’s face it, although the world is continuously advancing and getting hi-tech but still accidental fatalities in the construction industry are on rise. Every year thousands of workers suffer from fatal injuries on the job.
According to an internal research, some 4,500 workers are injured every year in scaffolding falls. About 50 of those injuries result in death. One out of every ten work-related deaths is caused by a fall.
Scaffolding is a temporary means of support structure which enables workers to reach the required heights while constructing, maintenance or repairing the existing structures.
On one hand, scaffolding tends to offer comfortable and safe working arrangement as compared to working from ladders, leaning over edges and stretching overhead. While on the other hand working at height itself is a big danger and working on scaffold enhances the risk to it especially when safety regulations are ignored. Scaffolding accidents mainly involve people falling, incorrect operating procedures, environmental conditions and falling materials due to equipment failure.
Important causes of scaffolding accidents include:-
• Insufficient or lack of on-the-job training
• Improper construction or work rules
• Inadequate fall protection
• Ignoring safety rules
• Weak planking
• Failures at attachment points, parts failure
• Insecure or non-existent bracing
• Defective equipment
• Changing environmental conditions (extreme temperatures, high winds, presence of toxic gases)
Additionally, major scaffold failure occurs due to overloading of scaffolding. Individuals exposed to scaffolding hazards include scaffold erectors and dismantlers, personnel working on scaffolds, employees and the general public near scaffolding. Scaffold erectors and dismantlers are at particular risk, since they work on scaffolds before ladders, guardrails, platforms and planks are completely installed.
Steps to ensure quality and safety while using scaffold:-
• Well trained, certified and experienced manpower
• Strict adherence to OSHA standards
• Use of certified and tested scaffolding materials
• All materials used should be inspected thoroughly before and after use
• Employers should ensure that all the equipment’s in use are in good condition as per “Personal Protective Equipment at Work” regulations
• Ensuring proper permit to work
• Each activity should follow proper job hazard assessment
• Follow the “Scaffolding Management Procedure”
We can safely say that it is a must for workers and employers to comply with OSHA and other respective global regulations whenever working with scaffolds. For safe use of scaffolds, all the above provisions should be strictly met. All additional safety measures should also be inculcated to strengthen safe working environment.
This topic of safety involves an enormous debate involving many other components. Do you think there is a better way to minimize scaffolding accidents or some other causes which can lead to these accidents? Send us your comments.