When scaffolds and aerial lifts are not erected or used properly, fall hazards can occur. About 2.3 million construction workers frequently work on scaffolds. Protecting workers from scaffold-related accidents would prevent an estimated 4,500 injuries and 50 fatalities each year.
Unsafe scaffolding procedures can cause accidents, serious injuries and even death. Accidents involving scaffolding mainly involve:
Training in scaffold safety should be provided for both supported and suspended scaffolding in addition to general requirements for capacity and platform construction, safe access, fall protection, falling object protection, safe use, and training.
Workers should be retrained if any of the following conditions occur:
Employers are also required to retrain workers who they observe working improperly on scaffolds or operating aerial lifts.
Supported scaffolds: Consist of one or more platforms supported by outrigger beams, brackets, poles, legs, uprights, posts, frames, or similar rigid support.
Frame Scaffold or Fabricated Frame: Platform(s) supported on fabricated end frames with integral posts, horizontal bearers, and intermediate members.
Manually Propelled/Mobile: Unpowered, portable, caster- or wheel-mounted supported scaffold.
Pump Jack: Platform supported by vertical poles and movable support brackets.
Ladder Jack: Platform resting on brackets attached to ladders.
Tube and Coupler: Platform(s) supported by tubing, erected with coupling devices connecting uprights, braces, bearers, and runners.
Pole: Posts with fixed connection points that accept runners, bearers, and diagonals, also made of wood, that can be interconnected at predetermined levels.
Specialty: Scaffold types designed for a narrow and very specific range of applications. Includes plasterers', decorators', and other large-area scaffolds; bricklayers' square scaffolds; horse scaffolds; outrigger scaffolds; step, platform, and trestle ladder scaffolds; form and carpenter's bracket scaffolds; window jack scaffolds; crawling boards and chicken ladders; and roof bracket scaffolds.
Suspended scaffolds are platforms suspended by ropes, or other non-rigid means, from an overhead structure.
Two-point (swing stage): Platform supported by hangers (stirrups) suspended by two ropes from overhead supports and equipped with a means to permit the platform to be raised and lowered.
Single-point Adjustable: Platform suspended by one rope from an overhead support and equipped with a means to permit the platform to be moved to desired working levels.
Catenary: Platform supported by two essentially horizontal and parallel ropes attached to structural members of a building. Additional vertical pickups may also provide support.
Multi-point Adjustable: Platform(s) suspended by more than two ropes from overhead supports and equipped with a means to permit the platform to be raised and lowered. Includes chimney hoists.
Interior Hung: Platform suspended from the ceiling or roof structure by fixed-length supports.
Needle Beam: A platform suspended from needle beams.
Multi-level: Two-point or multi-point adjustable suspension scaffold with a series of platforms at various levels resting on common stirrups.
Float (ship): Braced platform resting on two parallel bearers and hung from overhead supports by ropes of fixed length.
Recommended precautions to take while working with scaffolds include:
For a complete course on scaffold safety, take OSHAcademy Course 803, Scaffold Safety Program Management and Course 804, Safe Scaffold Erection and Inspection.
You may also want to visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics: Scaffolding web page.
Aerial lifts are vehicle-mounted, boom-supported aerial platforms, such as cherry pickers or bucket trucks, used to access utility lines and other aboveground job sites. The major causes of fatalities are falls, electrocutions, and collapses or tip overs.
Aerial lifts have replaced ladders and scaffolding on many job sites due to their mobility and flexibility. They may be made of metal, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, or other materials. They may be powered or manually operated, and are considered to be aerial lifts whether or not they can rotate around a primarily vertical axis.
Employers must take measures to ensure the safe use of aerial lifts by their workers if they are required to use this equipment in the course of their employment.
Only trained and authorized persons are allowed to operate an aerial lift. Training should include the following:
Manually-propelled elevating aerial platforms: When employees use manually propelled elevating aerial platforms as covered by ANSI/SIA A92.3-1990, the manufacturer’s operating manual must be with the equipment. You must follow all operating and maintenance instructions and recommendations of the manufacturer.
Boom-supported elevating work platforms: When employees use boom supported elevating work platforms as covered by ANSI/SIA A92.5-1992, the manufacturer’s operating manual must be with the equipment. Follow all operating and maintenance instructions and recommendations of the manufacturer.
Vehicle-mounted elevating and rotating lifts [ANSI A92.2 devices]: Platforms other than buckets or baskets must include guardrail systems with guardrails, midrails, and toeboards. Each person who works on a boom-supported platform must use a personal fall-protection system that includes a body harness and a lanyard attached to the boom or basket.
Scissor lifts: When employees use self-propelled elevating aerial platforms (scissor lifts), as covered by ANSI/SIA A92.6-1990, the manufacturer’s operating manual must be with the equipment. Follow all operating and maintenance instructions and recommendations of the manufacturer.
To make sure you are not injured while operating an aerial lift, follow these safe work practices:
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