Working with scaffold can be dangerous work. In fact, scaffold citations were the number three most cited standard by OSHA in 2017.
Follow these simple tips to keep your workers safe:
Tip 1: Safely Use A Ladder to Access Scaffold
- If a scaffold platform is more than two feet above, or below for that matter, a point of access (otherwise known as a ladder) must be used.
- Ladders must be secured and extend three feet above the working level. Ladders must be positioned so the bottom rung is no more than 24 inches from the ground. Hook-on and attachable ladders must be specifically designed for use with the type of scaffold being used – it’s not one size fits all. And in case you are wondering, unsecured ladders or missing ladders could expose employees to fall hazards.
- Crossbraces are not ladders and cannot be used as a means of access.
Tip 2: Know The Appriopriate Use of Crossbraces and Support
- Crossbraces must be compatible with the type of scaffolding being used. If the ratio of height to base width is 4:1 or greater, the scaffold must be tied into the building and secured by a competent person- not just a smart person, but a trained person. An unsecured or unbalanced scaffold could collapse and expose employees to fall hazards. (click here to see a video about this.)
- Supported scaffold legs, posts, frames, and uprights must be plumb, braced and secured to prevent swaying and displacement.
This scaffold is missing crossbraces and a guardrail system for fall protection.
Tip 3: Fall Risks Exisit if Scaffold Plank Guidelines are Not Followed
- Use only OSHA approved planks which are usually stamped to prove it, watch out for knockoffs.
- Scaffold planking cannot be spaced more than one inch apart and must be fully planked.
- Each scaffold walkway must be 18 inches and the front edge of the scaffold cannot be more then 14 inches from the face of the work – its that specific for a reason.
- Each platform cannot extend more than 18 inches over the support.
Tip 4: Create a Firm Foundation with Mud Sills and Base Plates
- Scaffolding legs, posts, frames and uprights must have base plates. All ‘bout that base, no treble.
- Footings must be level and capable of supporting the loaded scaffold without displacement.
- Unstable may not be used as working platforms.
No guardrail system and the working surface isn’t entirely planked.
Tip 5: Don’t Forget about Fall Protection
- If scaffold is more than 10 feet tall, fall protection must be used. That’s a completely different Tech Bulletin.
- Body harnesses or a guardrail system are appropriate methods of fall protection.
Can I get a recap?
- Scaffolding platforms that are two feet above or below the point of access, must have a ladder and it must be secured.
- Crossbraces must be in place to prevent swaying/displacement and are not ladders.
- Planking cannot be more than one inch apart.
- Walkways must be at least 18 inches wide and no more than 14 inches from the face of the work.
- Scaffolds must be built and used on level ground.