Construction Scaffolding Incorporated (CSI) was formed as an independent commercial construction and building materials industry association in 1972. Originally adopted in 1971, OSHA’s initial construction scaffolding standards stayed relatively static until 1996 when the National Industrial Safety & Health Act (NICHA) was enacted. The new Act established several mandatory construction activities that included the inspection of scaffold installations. The revised 1996 amendments are performance based, meaning that the criteria don’t tell employers exactly what to do with their employees.
The new Regulations contained ten different sections that addressed issues across the spectrum of scaffolding safety. It is important to read them in order and get familiar with them. For example, there was a discussion about the significance of the term “power lines” and the definition of a “ground safety fall line.” In both instances, the words “power lines” are subject to interpretation.
The Regulations also cover the ten “fall,” or “slippages,” that occur on scaffolds. The OSHA 1926 L Standard provides general guidance for the use of scaffolding, including its safe distances from power lines and other energized power lines. This reference number can be found on all construction equipment and at the site where the scaffolding is installed. Other important OSHA terms are: “fall distance,” “fall system,” and “drop location.” Other important OSHA terms relating to scaffolding include: “rafter distance” and “tension loads.”
The OSHA guidelines on fall protection are designed for workers using scaffolds on jobsites and for maintenance workers who use work towers. OSHA has created a list of qualified professionals who are able to offer qualified assistance in training prospective workers on how to safely use and maintain scaffold systems on job sites and maintenance towers. The professionals certified as fall protectors can also provide training to the workers who will be using the scaffolds on job sites. They are also certified in the use of drop locations. To be eligible for certification by OSHA, scaffold companies and workers must meet the following criteria: They must perform work under steady supervision, they must use personal protective equipment daily, and they must prevent employees from falling through the openings in the scaffolds.
In order for a person to become properly trained and certified as a scaffold safety specialist, he/she must attend and pass an approved scaffold training program. An approved scaffold training program consists of classroom instruction, practical training and other opportunities offered through a professional association or vocational school. Once a person has successfully passed the required training program, he/she will be considered a competent person scaffolding safety specialist.
There are some basic steps that are necessary for any individual to take when working with scaffolds. The worker should always document everything that is done so that there are no issues later. Construction workers and other individuals working with scaffolds should use hand signals when there is a change in the plans. They should also make sure that everyone is aware of what is happening around them. A competent and experienced worker would also advise the workers to be prepared before beginning work.
Construction workers and other individuals using scaffolds need to be responsible with the materials that they are holding. If something is not working correctly or if there is an issue, then the worker should make sure that everything is in good condition. Before leaving work, a worker should always check his or her harness and should ensure that the ropes are properly adjusted to any weight difference between the worker and the object. The harnesses should also be checked before entering the area. These are all part of good scaffolding safety procedures.
The materials that are used in scaffold plans should be secure and in place. Workers need to be trained to identify any problems that are related to the construction and visual inspection of the planks needs to take place before starting work. There should be a change made once a year to the designs and the materials that are being used. The workers will need to know what are the different materials that are being used so that they will be able to identify if there is a hazard with it and if the use of those materials is allowed.