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How can you prevent scaffolding falls?

Construction work can be dangerous, and it often exposes you to hazards you may not otherwise see in the workplace. One inherent danger in construction is working on scaffolding. You might need to use it to reach the roof of a structure or while you're painting the outside of a new build. In any case, the misuse of scaffolding can result in serious injuries or death.

If you work on scaffolding, it's important to use a personal fall arrest system. This system attaches from you to an anchorage point. For example, someone working on a scaffold may have a fall arrest system that attaches to the roof of a building. That set up makes sure the individual won't fall even if the scaffold folds under his or her body.

Safe anchorage is the key to safety in the case of a fall. Some safe anchorage points include all structural portions of buildings. For example, a beam supporting the building would likely be strong enough to support your weight if you fell. Don't ever attach anchorage points to parts that are not structural, since they could pull loose. For instance, a vent or drain pipe may not be able to support your weight.

Another good idea for your safety is to use guardrails on the scaffolding. These rails cover all open sides of the platform and must be able to withstand a force of at least 150 pounds. This requirement helps guarantee that stepping back too far won't result in a fall and that the railing is strong enough to stop you from going through it.

Normally, only one of these systems is required to be in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If your employer doesn't use either, then you could be in a position to file a claim.

Source: Graphic Products, Inc., "Scaffolding Fall Hazards," accessed Sep. 14, 2017

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