June 1, 2016
By Jonathan Damashek
On April 22nd, constructor-worker Luis Mata died when the platform of the scaffold where he was working on got loose, making him fall 10 levels down. Unfortunately, with so much construction going on, this type of accident has been increasing in the last few years. Although most of the times the accidents involving scaffolds are not fatal, as employees are working at a considerable height, they can cause long-term consequences that affect the life of the workers and their loved ones.
Working with scaffolds is risky and requires taking into account several safety regulations. An employer has the obligation to obtain valid permits as well as to offer construction workers the tools they need to work in satisfactory conditions. Even though some construction companies offer workers mandatory training sessions, today we want to share with you some of the safety measures that OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Services) drafted on scaffold usage in order to reduce the risk of suffering an accident.
Check that the Permits are up to Date
It’s important to verify the validity of the permit for the scaffold in which you are going to work. If you didn’t put together the structure, verify that someone properly trained did so. Do not work on a scaffold if you don’t understand how it works or you are not well trained to resolve a structural difficulty. It’s legally required that all workers using scaffolds be well trained.
The footing or anchorage for scaffolds must be sound, rigid, and capable of carrying the maximum intended load without displacement. Unstable objects such as barrels, boxes, loose bricks, or concrete blocks should not be used to support scaffolds or planks. An access ladder or equivalent safe access must be provided. The poles, legs, or uprights of scaffolds must be plumb, and securely and rigidly braced to prevent swaying and displacement. The scaffold should also be equipped with safety rails to prevent the worker from falling to the ground.
It’s important that the scaffolding is clean, without grease or other elements that may cause slip and falls, especially on the platforms. The area of the scaffold should be limited with a safety cord to avoid the access of workers below, as there’s a risk of objects falling from above. The law prohibits the use of scaffolding during complicated weather conditions such as strong winds, storms, snow or ice.
It is key that the worker takes the appropriate time to do the work, working at high altitudes is dangerous and the precautions that should be taken are higher. The worker must be protected by a safety life belt attached to a lifeline. Workers must use a helmet.
This is just a summary of the safety measures OSHA offers, but you can find more clicking here. If you or a loved one had an accident when using a scaffold, contact us today. We have vast knowledge and experience in this type of cases and we’ll fight aggressively for your rights and for the compensation you deserve.