By John Kenny, Cotney Consulting Group.
In part one of this series, we discussed the different types of scaffolding defined by OSHA, the dangers to look for, and the training required. In part two, we will continue our journey into properly using scaffolding on your job site.
Essential elements of safe scaffolding construction include using appropriate construction methods, proper access and platforms upon which the workers can safely work. To ensure scaffolding is appropriately erected, remember that the height should not exceed four times its minimum base dimension unless guy wires, ties or braces are used.
Erect scaffolding on a stable, level ground with wheels locked and braced. Your platform should be constructed of scaffold-grade unpainted wood or OSHA-compliant metal planking, supporting their weight and four times the expected maximum load. You cannot mix and match. All planking must be made of the same materials. The scaffold should be fully planked between the front upright and guardrail support with no more than an inch gap. The width of the platform must be at least 18 inches. There cannot be a large gap in the front edge of the platform. The platform ends must be extended over its support by at least six inches unless cleated or restrained by hooks.
Scaffolds can only be erected, moved, dismantled or altered under the supervision of a competent person. The competent person selects and directs workers and determines the fall protection needs. After erecting the scaffold, a competent person inspects it for visible defects before each shift and after any alterations.
The competent person must always be on-site when the scaffolding is used. Before each shift, the connections must be evaluated to ensure the supporting surfaces can support the load, and ropes must be inspected for defects.
During scaffolding use, the safety measures you put in place must be enforced. The most important safety measure is that only trained workers be allowed to work on scaffolding. Particular attention should be on how workers are accessing the scaffolding and the load placed on platforms. Guard rails and toe boards should remain in place. Workers below the Scaffolding should wear hard hats and only enter the area when necessary. The area below the scaffolding should be barricaded to block off the area below the scaffolding to forbid entry into that area.
Scaffolding is dismantled on-site from the top down. Suspended scaffolding is usually pulled up onto the roof and dismantled. The scaffolding should only be disassembled by workers trained to do so and only done when a competent person is present.
Essential elements of safe scaffolding dismantling include using appropriate techniques, proper scaffold access and platform removal. If the structure's height is more than four times its minimum base dimension and guys, ties or braces were used, temporary means must be used to support the scaffolding while it is being dismantled.
A plan for the method must be presented to lower platform planking or decking and the larger pieces of the scaffolding. Workers performing the dismantling are still exposed to fall hazards. When dismantling scaffolding near overhead power lines, the danger of electric shock or electrocution hazards still exists. It is essential to maintain clearance distances listed in the standard. The competent person selects and directs dismantling workers and determines the feasibility of fall protection.
Scaffolding is a crucial part of any vertical construction project and is commonly used in roofing projects for many purposes. Despite the dangers of falling from scaffolding or dropping objects onto workers below, working on scaffolding can be done safely. If the workers are trained, and the rules and standards are followed, projects can be done efficiently and effectively. In this series, we provided some of the necessary information you will need when using scaffolding. Always remember that a competent person must always be on-site to supervise the scaffolding. The OSHA Publication 3150, "A Guide to Scaffold Use in the Construction Industry," provides excellent information and can be obtained from http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3150.pdf.
Learn more about Cotney Consulting Group in their directory or visit www.cotneyconsulting.com.
About Cotney Consulting Group
Unlike other “business” consultants, Cotney has 65+ years’ experience solving the problems of roofing companies. With real experience running 8-figure, multi-million dollar companies, our consultants did not learn about business consulting from a book — we have experienced the same problems that you have, solved them and moved on to create a storied history of success. We can share our experiences with you and help you achieve success. Learn more at www.cotneyconsulting.com.
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