Scaffolding: What OSHA Really Looks For
Simple steps to cut OSHA fines
All too often, a visit from OSHA reveals deficiencies, not only in the scaffolding, but also in the knowledge of the masonry foreman or business owner. If you’re the guy paying the fine, you should have the knowledge to prevent it. Learning ahead of time is always much, much cheaper.
OSHA issues related to scaffolding are the great majority of all OSHA citations that mason contractors receive. This article will teach you where to quickly get the information you need, and what OSHA looks for. We’ll discuss how the regulations apply to conventional frames and crank-up scaffolding.
The GCs are getting tougher than OSHA
Everyone wants a safe workplace. It helps with workers’ comp rates, too, but it can get complicated when the GC’s safety people are forcing you to meet regulations that actually are tougher than OSHA’s. And, sometimes, these safety consultants are not aware that different regulations exist for different types of scaffolding.
Before working for a new GC, have a talk with his safety people to find out how their regulations differ from OSHA’s. Sometimes complying with them requires extra expense, or they restrict your men enough to lower your production figures. Find out before bid time.
For example, many GCs are requiring mason contractors to keep the wall in front of the masons at least 38 inches high, to eliminate the fall hazard. This would require twice as many board hops on frames, adding thousands in labor. However, crank-up style scaffolding works this way automatically.
How to find the regulations
The best way to be prepared for that visit from OSHA, or your GC’s safety man, is to educate yourself now, before any citations are written, or before the GC stops work to correct problems. The internet has a wealth of information to get you started:
What OSHA is looking for: FUSES
Whenever you drive up to your job, take 10 seconds to think like a compliance officer. If you can spot a problem from the street, so can he. The top 5 things they look for are Falls, Unsafe access, Struck by falling objects, Electrocution, and Scaffold collapse – FUSES.
Be sure to use tags to indicate the state of the scaffold. Frame scaffolding must be tied in, when the base to height ratio exceeds 4:1. This is calculated differently for crank-up scaffolds. The 4:1 ratio is measured to the work platform, not the top of the tower. An untied tower can be higher than the 4:1, since there is no load above the platform. Consult the individual manufacturer for the maximum free-standing height.
Do it right, every time
When moving frame scaffolding from one wall to the next, you must tear it down in a safe manner, and re-erect it in a safe manner, every time you move it. Missing one component can cost you. As one man said, “It’s like a thousand-question test, and if you miss one, you fail.”
Alternatives exist. Using tower type crank-up scaffolding, your guardrails are installed once, on the one level, and travel up and down with you. It’s picked up with a forklift and moved to the next wall intact (see Photo 6). All the safety rails stay in place. This feature eliminates all dismantle and re-erection labor in your job, saving you thousands.
Terry Watts, the owner of True Bond Masonry in Shreveport, La., uses both types of scaffolding: “When the safety inspectors see our Non-Stop, they just keep walking. When we set it up, everything’s like it’s supposed to be. It’s saved us thousands in fines. It’s our frames we really have to be careful about. You miss one little brace or have your ladder in the wrong spot, and you’re sunk.”
Chad Bentley, head of a medium-sized family masonry business in Cullman, Ala., recently switched over to Non-Stop Standard-Duty scaffolding. He describes his experience, “OSHA came through here and wrote up all my competitors on frames. They came to my job, took one look at the scaffolding, and left. Everything was right.”
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 14:03|