A recent Lancaster, PA Intelligencer Journal on line article illustrates how companies need to pay attention to scaffold safety training:
“The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants to fine a Refton stone contractor $154,000 for allegedly unsafe scaffolding practices.”
An OSHA inspector happened to be driving by a Schuykill County construction site and found a whopping eight safety violations, including one “willful” instance where “the company knew but disregarded the law, or was indifferent to worker safety and health.”
The most serious citation alleged that employees were working on the scaffold without the required guardrails or a safety harness system above ten feet. In this incident, “two employees were spotted working nearly 17 feet up without the required safety measures, OSHA said.” This one violation is considered willful and carries a heavy fine of $69,300.
Fortunately, none of the violations resulted in personal injuries at the work site, but the situation was basically “an accident waiting to happen.” This situation was a classic workplace example of poor supervision and employee safety training: “Workers who used and erected the scaffolding got inadequate training, another serious violation, according to OSHA.”
The article makes no mention whether a Competent Person was on the scene. OSHA requires the presence of such a person at each work site and that person needs to be knowledgeable in the exacting General Requirements for all Scaffolds.
If you have a “Competent Person” who oversees scaffolding, ask that person the following sample questions:
- When do scaffolds have to be used in place of ladders?
- What are the rules for moving erected scaffolds?
- What is the minimum load-carrying capacity for the scaffold timbers?
- What are the standards for planking wood grade?
If you or your supervisor cannot answer all the above questions satisfactory, it may be time for some training. The foregoing questions only scratch the surface of what your competent person needs to know in order to avoid being one of the over 7,000 scaffolding violations that occurred in 2010 across America with a fatality rate of 37 workers.
If you are interested in training, check out our comprehensive course “Scaffolding for the Competent Person.“ For the low price of $89, we offer training that fully meets OSHA’s standards. (Compare the cost of the course to the potential $154,000 fine faced by the construction company mentioned above.)