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What are OSHA's safety regulations for scaffolding?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces regulations to which every employer and employee in Georgia who works on scaffolding must conform. These regulations involve the inspection and the design and construction of scaffolds. Inspection regulations require employers to have a competent individual inspect all scaffolding and scaffolding components for evident defects prior to every work shift. The person also needs to inspect all fall protection components, including body harnesses, drop lines, anchor points, lanyards and trolley lines. If there is any evidently worn or damaged equipment, it must be removed from use immediately. A competent individual must be present to supervise the assembly, disassembly, movement or modification of scaffolds as well.

The design and construction regulations involve the type of and rated capacities of the equipment used and the methods of construction. Every scaffold and its components have to support their weight and at least four times the maximum load that they are intended to hold without failing. The suspension ropes have to support at least six times the maximum load that they are intended to hold.

OSHA estimates that 65 percent of construction workers frequently use scaffolds. Due to this, it is no surprise that scaffolding accidents are one of the most common types of incidents on construction sites. Even with regulations in place, the accidents could involve falls because of improperly installed or defective equipment, other falling objects or an employer not enforcing the use of protective equipment. These incidents are often the most serious in relation to the severity of the workers' injuries.

Employees who are injured in scaffolding falls might be entitled to workers' compensation benefits under Georgia law. However, since every work accident is different, injured workers might want to talk to representatives from the State Board of Workers' Compensation or to an attorney who has experience in this area about their rights and how to file claims.

Source: Findlaw, "Construction Site Injuries", November 03, 2014

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