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Safe scaffolding rules prevent construction workers' accidents

Last week, we discussed the luck of two New York City construction workers who were not seriously injured in a scaffolding mishap requiring extrication by the Fire Department New York. This week we will expound some on scaffolding hazards and how to be safer on the job.

Scaffolds pose a danger when they are not erected correctly and used properly by workers. As noted last week, falls from scaffolds can be deadly due to the heights of most New York City skyscrapers. Approximately 2.3 million men and women working construction jobs utilize scaffolds to carry out their day-to-day activities. Keeping them safe above ground would prevent about 50 fatalities and 4,500 injuries annually from construction workers' accidents.Safe Scaffolding Solutions

-- Objects that aren't stable, including concrete blocks, loose bricks, barrels or boxes should never be used as scaffold or plank supports.

-- All scaffolds must be rigid, sound and able to carry their own weight in addition to four times the maximum load with no displacement or settling.

-- Scaffolds must be erected only on solid footing.

-- The platforms of scaffolds must be tightly planked with material that is scaffold plank grade or its equivalent.

-- Scaffolds shall not be erected, dismantled, moved or altered unless the action is supervised by a competent person.

-- Only a competent person may inspect the scaffolding and reinspect it at designated intervals.

-- All scaffolds shall be equipped with toeboards, midrails and guardrails.

-- Any scaffold accessories that are weakened or become damaged for any reason must immediately be replaced or repaired. This includes ladders, brackets, braces, trusses or screw legs.

-- Construction workers must be instructed not to use diagonal braces as protection from falls.

-- Suspension scaffold rigging shall be inspected only by a competent person prior to each shift and following any occurrences that might affect the structural integrity. Said competent person must ensure all connections are snug and no damage has occurred to the rigging since it was last used.

Safety on the job is everyone's responsibility. If your employer is in violation of safety rules, your best bet may be to pursue legal action before tragedy occurs.

Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration, "Worker Safety Series Construction" Aug. 20, 2014

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