Many times scaffolds are taken for granted. Someone else may have set them up, they have been at the site for a while or the mobile scaffolds are "always there", plus there are many different types of scaffolds. So training in safety on scaffolding is sometimes overlooked. Before employees begin work on a scaffold, they should be aware of any potential safety problems and help prevent accidents before they occur.
Seventy percent of scaffolding accidents are from falls, yet very often there are job sites with no fall protection in place. OSHA Regulations require protection when a fall hazard is ten feet or greater. Fall protection can be a conventional rail system (top, middle and toe board) or by the use of a personal fall arrest system. Good housekeeping can also prevent many fall accidents. The scaffold (or lift) should be cleared of rubbish and debris at least daily. Excess materials should not be stockpiled on the structure. Ice, snow, oil, etc. should be cleared from the platform before use.
Collapses of scaffolds are responsible for many accidents. Workers need to be aware of the structure and report any structural problems such as bent members, improper installation of platforms, overloading, and poor bases to their supervisor or "general". Scaffolds should be inspected by a "competent person" and only moved or altered under their supervision.
Contact with overhead wires is the last major cause of accidents. Scaffolds and lifts are metal and excellent conductors. Scaffolding must be at least 10 feet from an un-insulated power line and 3 feet from an insulated line. When moving mobile platforms or lifts, a designated "watcher" should be in place to ensure that no contact is made with overhead lines. Electric equipment and tools must be inspected regularly to prevent accidental electrical energizing of the scaffold due to a "short".