This year, GBCA is participating in OSHA’s Focus Four Campaign, providing resources to avoid incidents involving OSHA’s Focus Four hazards. This week’s toolbox talk is about preventing falls from scaffolds. Scroll down to read it. Click below to download it as a printable Toolbox Talk.

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Preventing Falls from Scaffolds

Consider the following questions and answers:

  • What are the hazards?
    • Falls due to working on scaffolding
  • What are the results?
    • Broken bones, head injuries, internal damage, death
  • What should we look for?
    • Unleveled scaffold, improper base, inadequate access, not fully planked, improper use of baker scaffolds, fall protection, power lines, workers on guard rails.

Actual Incident:

Silver Spring, MD, October 2012: An employee was killed after falling more than 90 feet at a building under renovation. The employee was working on the apartment balcony from a twin tower mast-climbing work platform. The employee was scrapping the old paint at the 10th floor balcony when he fell to the ground through the space adjacent to the mast tower. At the time of the incident, the deceased was not connected to any fall protection system.

  1. Why did this tragedy happen? How could it have been prevented?
  2. Have you ever had an injury due to falling from scaffolding, or have you heard of anyone who has fallen from scaffolding? If so, what happened? And what were the contributing factors?

Did You Know:

When scaffolds are not constructed or used properly, falls can occur. Protecting workers from scaffold- related incidents would prevent many deaths and more than 4,000 injuries each year.

Know who the Competent Person for Scaffolding is for your worksite and assure that he/she is performing all required inspections, which includes at least a daily pre-work inspection.

  • Provide an access ladder. Typically, the only end-rails that you are allowed to use for access have square or rectangular openings.
  • Make sure lumber is scaffold-grade when using wooden planking.
  • Install guardrails and toe-boards on all scaffolding 10 or more feet above the ground.
  • Make sure the scaffold is able to support four times the maximum intended load (including the weight of the scaffold). This includes workers, materials, and tools!
  • Make sure the scaffold is level by using screw jacks on base plates and mudsills. Remember, base plates must ALWAYS be used, and mudsills must be used when the Competent Person determines that they are necessary to assure an adequate foundation.