A Discussion of Suspended Scaffolding Safety
Suspended scaffolds are usually suspended quite high off the ground. Safety under these conditions is imperative. Make sure your employees are fully trained in every area of this dangerous job.
Suspended scaffolding safety is of interest to people who work high above the ground on scaffolds. Suspended scaffolds are composed of one or more platforms that are hung by metal or fiber rope. The purpose of the rope is to raise and lower the platforms to numerous work areas. The scaffolds give workers the ability to reach difficult places in a safe and effective manner.
In order to be able to use suspended scaffolds, workers must receive training. OHSA requires that this training encompasses the scaffolds' correct uses and placement, the appropriate ways by which to put together the scaffolds and then take them down, how to handle items while working on the scaffolds, and the manner by which to prevent falls. In spite of this required training, OHSA still mandates that an expert in the area of scaffolds be on site whenever scaffolding is utilized at a work location. The expert has many functions. They include managing the construction of scaffolds, enforcing safety stipulations, and taking care of any issues that come up as a result of scaffolds.
It is critical that workers check over the location where their scaffold will be utilized before it is even erected. The things to look out for include items that could block the its path while it is moving and hanging objects like pipes that could possibly tip the scaffold as it passes by. It is also essential to make sure that workers are a safe distance away from all electrical outlets, given the potential for electrocution to result. In addition, workers on the scaffolding need to be far away from any power lines, particularly those that are of high voltages.
Once workers have been trained in scaffold safety and the work site has been inspected for any hazardous conditions, the scaffold can finally be built. Experts will determine which suspension device will be used in this process. There are a number of devices that could be used, including cornice hooks, parapet clamps, and roof irons. The devices need to be attached to areas of the entire structure that have the strength to support four times the maximum intended load of the scaffold. The maximum intended load is defined as the scaffold's total weight including all people, tools, and equipment at any given point in time. Suspension devices must be composed of wrought iron or steel or a similar metal.
At this point, it should be noted that outrigger beams are utilized when no points on the structure have the ability to support a suspended scaffold. The beams are connected to supports within the structure, and they extend the scaffold away from it. The beams should be placed perpendicular to their supports in most cases. Beams should then be stabilized with ropes called tie backs, which should be strong enough to support the scaffold's maximum intended load. These tie backs should be firmly connected to bearing supports. Counterweights should be attached to further provide stability to the outrigger beams. Only weights that are especially designed as counterweights should be used.
After the suspension devices are all in place, metal or fiber ropes are needed to hang the scaffolds. As ropes are the lifelines of scaffolds, they should be examined at all times for wear and tear. Once the ropes are said to be in good working condition, they can be affixed to the scaffold's hoist. Hoists must also be able to fully or partially stop loads from falling. Hoists are ready to be attached to suspension ropes once they have been tested out. Hoists should be able to support up to six times the maximum intended load of a scaffold, and scaffolding experts can address any questions on load capacity.
On top of all that was already discussed, it is absolutely critical to have a sturdy scaffold platform that is free of debris. There should also be enough room on the scaffolds for both workers and tools.
Regardless of the type of scaffold used, there are some safety precautions that workers must taking while on them. These include making sure that scaffolds are in good condition, not overloaded, and not filled with tools or debris. Furthermore, workers should not stand on items like bricks while they are on platforms, as such materials are not sturdy and could cause them to fall from high distances. Personal fall arrest systems are meant to prevent workers from falling off of scaffolds, and falling object protection is a mechanism used to prevent objects from falling off of the platform. If there is even a slight chance that items will fall off of a platform even after safety precautions have been adhered to, then the area underneath the scaffold should be roped off.
In conclusion, workers need to be trained on how to work on suspended scaffolding. The OHSA sets guidelines for this and requires that suspended scaffold experts be on site even after workers are trained in suspended scaffolding. Platforms, beams, weights, and ropes of scaffolds all need to meet certain specifications, and workers must always take certain precautions about the hazards associated with scaffolds.
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