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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
NOV 03, 2017
Scaffolding is common on more than 65 percent of worksites; each year nearly 2.3 million construction workers will use a scaffold. Almost all scaffolding injuries and fatalities are caused by the scaffold giving out, the worker slipping or the worker being struck by an object. Scaffolding hazards are serious, causing roughly 4,500 injuries and 60 deaths per year. Protect your workers by knowing the hazards and how to prevent them.
What is a scaffold?
A scaffold is any temporary elevated work platform, either supported by load-bearing poles, or suspended from a building using ropes or wires. All workers using scaffolds are at risk for fatality or injury, but these risks are minimized when you take the proper safety precautions.
What are the hazards?
The common hazards associated with scaffolds are:
Falls due to a lack of protection
Collapse due to unsteadiness or overloading
Workers being struck by falling objects
Electrocution when working near power lines
How can you protect against hazards?
Always inspect your scaffold before allowing workers to use it. Make sure there are no holes, gaps or uneven surfaces on the flooring. All scaffolds elevated 10 or more feet off the ground are required to have a guard rail and toe board around the perimeter. Also consider using safety harnesses, safety nets and hand rails. For more information about fall protection, click
Scaffold capacity and security
Never overload your scaffold and always be sure to check the manufacturer guidelines for the weight limit. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that each scaffold and all of its components should be able to support 4x its own weight without failure.
For supported scaffolds, all legs, beams, poles and posts must be set and supported by a firm foundation such as base plates or mud stills. For suspended scaffolds, all ropes, wire or other securing devices must be long enough to completely lower the scaffold without slipping through the hoist, and cannot have been previously damaged even if they have since been repaired. Learn more about scaffolding capacity and security
When working on a scaffold, your employees should always be wearing hard hats in the event that debris, hand tools or other objects strike them. Additional preventative measures you can take to protect your workers include installing debris nets, canopy structures, screens and catch platforms.
Due to the risk of the conductive materials on a scaffold coming in contact with energized electric lines, never let your scaffold be erected, worked on or dismantled closer to power lines than what is specified by OSHA. For any insulated line with a voltage less than 300 volts, stay a minimum of three feet away, and for any line over 300 volts stay a minimum of 10 feet away.
For uninsulated lines, remain a minimum of 10 feet away for voltages over 50 kV and add an additional half inch of distance for every additional one kV. You can read more about scaffolding around power lines
You are responsible for training all personnel who erect, dismantle and work on scaffolds. Proper training and hazard awareness can save lives and prevent injuries. For more information about scaffolding safety, please contact your agency or local Amerisure Loss Control Consultant at 800-257-1900 or