Fabricated frame scaffolds, mobile scaffolds and scissor lifts are valuable tools of the sheet metal industry, but they present many safety concerns for our workforce. Hazard awareness and safety planning can alleviate much of the exposure to danger associated with work on scaffolds and lifts. To limit your exposure to the hazards of lifts and scaffolds, a remediation plan needs to be in place.
Before using any reaching equipment, both the surrounding environment and the equipment itself should be inspected. The environment must be surveyed for potential hazards, particularly power lines. A remediation plan needs to be in place before the scaffolding is used. This would include the possible use of barriers and markers, or arranging with the utility company to have the lines de-energized Potential hazards and the location of any electric lines must be communicated to workers before using the equipment. Employees need to understand the potential dangers and the program to protect them. Other hazards to be aware of include uneven terrain/floors, holes and openings and clearances to other equipment, overheads, etc. Plans are to be made and communicated to alleviate any of these conditions.
Employees, supervisors and management need to be trained in Fall Protection and PPE whether through the OSHA 10-hour course or specific safety seminars. Check to make sure the scaffold/lift has railings and guards in place, that they are in good condition and meet OSHA standards. Protection from falling objects must also be addressed. Scaffolds and lifts should have toe boards to protect employees below fro loose materials and hard hats are recommended.
Whenever using lift equipment, whether mobile scaffolds, lifts or fabricated scaffolds, inspection and hazard planning before starting the job are key to your safety and loss control program.