Scaffold Safety: What to Do and What Not to Do

Filed in Labor, Safety and Health by on August 19, 2019 2 Comments

Scaffolding around a home under constructionScaffolds, or temporary work platforms, can provide a safe and efficient way to execute tasks on a home building site. But the use of scaffolds is also one of the leading causes of injuries in construction.

Between 2011 and 2015, a total of 1,533 deaths occurred from falls on construction sites, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training. Scaffolds/staging accounted for 227 (nearly 15%) of these deaths.

Proper training for all workers prior to working on any type of scaffold is crucial. Workers will be better able to identify common hazards such as missing baseplates or pins, unsafe access, damaged or missing guardrails and toeboards, etc.

The OSHA standard for scaffolds in construction is quite detailed, so use the information provided below as a general list of items for scaffold safety in residential construction.

Do:

  • Have a trained person supervise the setup, dismantling and modification of any scaffold.
  • Ensure scaffolds are inspected by a competent person prior to each work shift.
  • Ensure a scaffold is built to a 4×1 safety factor to prevent tipping.
  • Have workers use a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) when guardrails are not available at heights over 10 feet.
  • Build scaffolds at least 10 feet away from an exposed power source unless it has been insulated, or de-energized.

Don’t:

  • Work on scaffolds during electrical storms or high winds.
  • Provide unsafe access to the scaffold due to inadequately installed ladders, stairs or ramps.
  • Overload the scaffold to cause a collapse.
  • Build scaffold on stacked brick, block or other unstable objects.

NAHB has safety resources to help prevent falls on the job site, including from scaffolds.

For more information on NAHB safety resources, contact Rob Matuga.

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  1. Tom Brick says:

    Sure would like to see some qualified job built scaffolds…if any exist. I get asked all the time WHY cant we build scaffolds out of wood? My answer is because in 25 years I have never seen one built in residential construction to the 1926.450 standard. I would also like to address the 1925.500 standard and scaffold. IF they used a PFAS correctly would the job built scaffold matter? The same hold true with residential job built ladders, they are NEVER built to the 1926.1053 standard.

  2. I had no idea that you were supposed to have your scaffolds set up 10 feet away from power sources that are exposed. When my uncle opens his construction business, he wants to prioritize the safety of people who are working with heights since he knows how serious a fall can be when in a construction site. I’ll let him know that once he gets some scaffolding, he needs to keep it away from any exposed power sources.

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