Scaffolding safety requirements and OSHA
Scaffolding is integral to the process of many new construction and repair projects; wherever construction employees or contractors must gain access, scaffolding is likely to be found. As an example, the next time you see a newscast about developments in the nation’s capital if it uses the Congress building as a backdrop you will see its dome completely surrounded by scaffolding.
Given its ubiquitous nature and widespread usage, it follows that when accidents occur problems with scaffolding are a frequent cause. How frequent? Consider that according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly two-thirds of construction workers often use scaffolding in their work activities. So, scaffolding falls that result from improper assembly or lack of proper training are a commonplace source of injuries on construction sites.
Indeed, OSHA has developed its own regulations that pertain to scaffolding on sites in Pennsylvania and every other state in the country. These regulations break down into two major areas: inspection, and design and construction.
Inspection relates to the need for a “competent person” to examine all of the components that go into a scaffolding assembly whenever it is erected or moved, and before use, for every shift. Not only the structural parts of the scaffolding but also the safety devices such as harnesses and lanyards are subject to these inspection regulations.
Construction regulations pertain largely, but not entirely to weight capacities for scaffolding components. These must be support weights of four to six times the maximum load that the component is designed for.
Any item used in scaffolding that fails to conform to construction or inspection regulations must be removed and replaced.
What these regulations mean when it comes to construction accidents is that if scaffolding was involved, the failure of the responsible party, the prime contractor, relevant subcontractors, and possibly even the owner of the construction site, may be liable to OSHA sanctions and possibly even to legal claims on the part of injured workers.