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Scaffold Safety & Training – Access/Egress, Usage, PPE Requirements, Personal Fall Prevention

According to OSHA, an estimated 2.3 million construction workers—or 65 percent of the construction industry—work on scaffolds. Protecting these workers from scaffold-related accidents may prevent some of the 4,500 injuries and over 60 deaths every year (Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2003 and 2004 data for the private sector), at a savings for American employers of $90 million in workdays not lost.

In a recent BLS study, 72% of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. All these accidents can be controlled with adequate training and compliance with OSHA standards.

Temporary-erected scaffolding is required for accessing many elevated surfaces where we must work. Being that we consistently are required to access scaffolding for work, we at CUST-O-FAB have adopted a 100% tie-off rule when working at elevated surfaces above 6 feet—one of our 5 LIFE SAVING RULES.” 

Due to statistics such as the ones listed above from the BLS, our employees are held to strict adherence to this policy, to the extent of severity that violation of this policy may lead to disciplinary consequences up to and including termination.

All CUST-O-FAB personnel are trained extensively in fall protection, including incomplete scaffolds. Understanding the restrictions for accessing elevated work platforms (normally communicated via a yellow tag with description of restrictions, i.e. 100% tie-off required that included a daily inspection tag initialed by a certified scaffold builder), what Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) will be required such as Personal Fall Protection that may include a permanent or temporary platform, full body harness with shock-absorbing lanyard(s), and or SRL (self-retracting lanyard), and or any working limitations such as open sides, unmitigated holes, etc.

In addition, the assembly, erection, or modification of scaffolding is never allowed by CUST-O-FAB personnel. These activities MUST be completed by a trained and qualified scaffold builder.

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
  • Electrocution, due to the proximity of the scaffold to overhead power lines

CSUT-O-FAB employees receive annual training on the standard requirements for recognizing deficiencies in scaffolding construction via the National Safety Council Basic Plus and/or via our online LMS training. The module walks the employee through the two main types of scaffold categories we are exposed to in the workplace and discusses the minimum acceptable components required to consider the scaffold complete, as well as the appropriate method for determining tie-off points. 

COF also offers specific, mobile-elevated work surface equipment operator training on:

  • Scissor Lift
  • Extend-A-Basket (JLG)
  • Working from a Crane-Lifted Portable Suspended Man Basket

Employees must pass a written exam and performance evaluation demonstration and must be authorized to operate said equipment. COF employees receive annual training in:

  • PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), proper selection (SRL – self retracting lanyard, or shock absorbing lanyard), and maintenance
  • Fall Protection (Personal Fall Arrest Systems), How to inspect, don, wear, and maintain
  • Working at Heights (Scaffold Access and Egress), recognize all required components (Top rail, Mid rail, Toe Board, Planking with maximum 1” gapping), capacity restrictions (pounds per square foot), tie-off point load limits (vertical vs. horizontal, above the shoulder instead of ankle height), dropped-item prevention practices (tool bag storage, tool lanyards, snow fencing, toe plates, blanketing floors, external netting between floors, removal of all trash and materials when done).

CUST-O-FAB employees are fully obligated & empowered to exercise STOP WORK AUTHORITY if something is not believed to be safe or someone is perceived to be working unsafely.

If the scaffold is deemed unsafe to access and or conduct the required work task, our employees are instructed to stop the job immediately, notify their supervisor, and summon a qualified scaffold builder to mitigate any concerns before proceeding.