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Scaffold regulations: Is my workplace in compliance?

If you're a New York construction worker, there's a good chance that you regularly find yourself working on a scaffold. In fact, you might spend all day, every day working on a scaffold. These important pieces of construction equipment are useful to reach high places and provide a sturdy work surface from which to perform different building tasks.

Because scaffolds elevate workers high up in the air, however, they can also be dangerous. This is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has written a number of strict safety regulations that construction sites must adhere to when it comes to using scaffolds.

Do the scaffolds at your construction site comply with OSHA standards?

OSHA regulations as they apply to scaffolds cover two important areas: (1) design and construction, and (2) inspection.

Design and construction: When it comes to the construction and design of construction scaffolds, OSHA has created specific rules design depending on the type of scaffold, its rated capacity, the way workers are using it and the way workers assemble the scaffold.

On the most basic level, engineers must design every scaffold so it can support its own weight, along with four times the intended max load. As for suspension ropes incorporated onto the scaffold, these need to support six times the intended max load of the rope. It's important to review OSHA rules and requirements for every scaffold that is at a construction site to ensure that each scaffold is OSHA compliant.

Inspection: A competent inspector needs to be available at every job site to inspect scaffold components and scaffolds that workers are using. This inspector must inspect the scaffolds before every shift begins if workers will be using the scaffolds during the shift. This competent person must also supervise the moving, dismantling, erecting and altering of any scaffolds present at the worksite.

In addition to the scaffolds themselves, the competent inspector must also investigate the condition of all scaffold components related to personal fall protection such as harnesses, droplines, body belts, lanyard, attachment points and trolley lines. If there's any sign of defect or damage, the equipment must be fixed immediately before being used.

Did you fall off a scaffold at work?

No matter how well employers and employees adhere to OSHA scaffold safety regulations, accidents will still happen. If you suffered an injury while using a scaffold – and it doesn't matter whose fault it was – you may be able to pursue a workers' compensation claim to get financial compensation for the costs of your medical care and time spent unable to work.

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