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Why Is Scaffold Safety Important?

When OSHA revised its Scaffolds standard in 1996, Bureau of Labor Statistics studies showed that 25 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents had received no scaffold safety training, and 77 percent of scaffolds were not equipped with guardrails.

OSHA estimates that informed employers and workers, in compliance with correct safety standards, can save as many as 50 lives and prevent 4,500 accidents every year.

What Is a Scaffold?

A scaffold is defined as an elevated, temporary work platform. There are three basic types of scaffolds:

  • Supported scaffolds, which consist of one or more platforms supported by rigid, load- bearing members, such as poles, legs, frames, outriggers, etc.
  • Suspended scaffolds, which are one or more platforms suspended by ropes or other non-rigid, overhead support.
  • Other scaffolds, principally manlifts, personnel hoists, etc., which are sometimes thought of as vehicles or machinery, but can be regarded as another type of supported scaffold.

Common Hazards Associated with All Scaffolds

  • Falls from elevation, due to lack of fall protection;
  • Collapse of the scaffold, caused by instability or overloading;
  • Being struck by falling tools, work materials, or debris; and
  • Electrocution, principally due to proximity of the scaffold to overhead power lines.

(These hazards will be addressed within the two specific groups below.)

Who Uses Scaffolds

Workers on scaffolds can be divided into two groups:

 
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