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Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry
• Section: 2
• Title: Section 2 - II. Hazards Involved

II. Hazards Involved

Scaffold-related incidents resulting in injuries and fatalities continue to occur despite the fact that OSHA has had a scaffold standard (existing subpart L) in place since 1971 (Exs. 1, 2, 3, 42, 43, 44 and 45). However, the Agency believes that compliance with the standard being published today will be better than it has been in the past because this standard has been simplified, brought up to date, and strengthened to provide additional protection.

Although specific accident ratios cannot be projected for the estimated 3.6 million construction workers currently covered by subpart L, the Economic Analysis that accompanies this final rule estimates that, of the 510,500 injuries and illnesses that occur in the construction industry annually, 9,750 are related to scaffolds. In addition, of the estimated 924 occupational fatalities occurring annually, at least 79 are associated with work on scaffolds.

OSHA prepared the following statistical estimates (based on 4.5 million construction workers then covered by subpart L) to support the 1986 proposal for subpart L, based on a review of accident data prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (Ex. 3-1). The revised scaffold standards contain a number of provisions designed specifically to address the findings of this analysis.

a. Seventy-two percent of the workers injured in scaffold accidents covered by the BLS study attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping, or being struck by a falling object. Plank slippage was the most commonly cited cause.

b. About 70 percent of the workers learned of the safety requirements for installing work platforms, assembling scaffolds, and inspecting scaffolds through on-the-job training. Approximately 25 percent had no training in these areas.

c. Only 33 percent of scaffolds were equipped with a guardrail. The following are recent examples, from the OSHA Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) data, of the types of accidents that continue to injure and kill employees working on scaffolds.

* In July, 1991, two employees were working on a pump jack scaffold doing roofing work. The scaffold became overloaded and broke. The employees fell 12 feet to the ground, resulting in one fatality and one serious injury.

* In August, 1992, two workers were erecting an aluminum pump jack scaffold. As they were raising the second aluminum pole, the pole apparently contacted an overhead power line. The pole being raised was 29 feet 10 inches long and the line was 28 feet 10 inches high. The line was approximately 11 feet from the house. One employee died and the other suffered severe burns and was hospitalized. The surviving employee noted that he thought they had enough room to work around the power lines, which were not de-energized or shielded.

* In July, 1993, a foreman climbed up the frame of a 45 foot high tubular welded frame scaffold to check on an employee who was sandblasting inside a stack at a steam plant. The scaffold was not equipped with guardrails and there was no access ladder. After talking to the employee, the foreman either fell from the unguarded platform or fell while climbing down the scaffold end frame, resulting in his death. There were no witnesses to the fall.

Based on its analysis of the available data and its field experience in enforcing construction standards, the Agency has determined that employees using scaffolds are exposed to a significant risk of harm. Specifically, scaffold related fatalities still account for approximately 9% of all fatalities in the construction workplace. In addition, the above data indicate that the revised final standard would have prevented many of these accidents more effectively than compliance with the existing scaffold standards. Consequently, OSHA finds that the revision of its scaffold standards for construction is necessary to improve employee protection. OSHA has determined that, as revised, the standard clearly states employers' duties and the appropriate compliance measures.

For additional discussion of incidence rates, significance of risk, and the protectiveness of the final rule, see Section IV, Summary of the Final Economic Analysis.

[61 FR 46026, Aug. 30, 1996]

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents

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