Do you know everything you need to know about the 10 most frequently cited Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards? In this series, we’re exploring the most common OSHA violations, one by one. Keep reading to learn about OSHA’s scaffolding standards.
OSHA Scaffolding Standard: What It Is
OSHA’s scaffolding rules “[aim] to protect workers using scaffolding in construction work. Scaffolding hazards continue to rank high on the list of the most frequently cited standards in the construction industry. Scaffold-related fatalities account for a significant number of fatalities in the construction workplace.” (Source)
A scaffold is a temporary structure that allows people to work in areas that are high off the ground or otherwise inaccessible. OSHA’s scaffolding standards lay out safe and proper methods for scaffolding used in construction jobs.
What is Scaffolding?
There are three types of scaffolds commonly used:
- Supported scaffolds consist of one or more platforms held up by rigid structural elements such as beams, brackets, poles, legs, or frames.
- Suspended scaffolds are platforms raised by non-rigid means, such as ropes or cables.
- Aerial lifts are elevating devices mounted to vehicles. Examples include extendable boom platforms, aerial ladders, and vertical towers.
OSHA’s scaffolding standard covers each of these kinds of scaffolds, as well as ladders, stilts, protection from falling objects, weather conditions, and other related hazards. The standard is extensive and detailed, specifying everything from fall protection measures to guardrail height to inspections and training.
Why Scaffolding Violations Happen
Scaffolding violations are common because scaffolds are standard construction equipment. The majority (65%) of construction projects involve scaffolds, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Millions of construction workers across the US work on scaffolds every year.
The BLS estimates that 3 issues account for over 70% of all scaffolding accidents:
- Planking giving way when equipment is defective, damaged, poorly maintained, or incorrectly assembled
- Slips and trips due to slippery surfaces, missing protective measures (such as guardrails), and/or inadequate training
- Falling objects
Overall, most scaffolding violations are the result of faulty equipment, dangerous environmental conditions, improper training, or a combination thereof.
What You Stand to Lose When Scaffolding Violations Happen
Direct costs: OSHA penalties can exceed $15,000 per violation—and as much per day for every day the issue hasn’t been fixed by OSHA’s deadline. The fine for a willful or repeated violation can be 10 times as much.
- workers’ compensation claims from workers injured by falls or falling objects
- lost productivity during and after an incident
- costs of replacing any damaged scaffolds or equipment
- legal and compliance fees
- decreased morale
- negative publicity and reputational damage
Signs You’re at Risk of a Fall Protection or Training Violation
How to Avoid a Scaffolding Violation: Your Prevention Checklist
You Don’t Have to Manage Your OSHA Requirements Alone
Have questions? Looking for more detailed OSHA compliance guidance?
KPA is here to help.
To truly protect your workforce and bottom line, you’ll need in-depth information—and not just about OSHA’s top 10, but every potential hazard that exists in your organization. You’ll also need to conduct a thorough evaluation of your facilities to identify current gaps and risk areas.
KPA’s unique combination of software, training, and consulting services can provide the coverage your people and your organization need. For more information and guidance about preventing a scaffolding violation, please contact us.