Learn about the importance of scaffolding safety, the meaning of scaffold tags, and how you can ensure scaffolding safety with the right tools.
Published November 10th, 2020
Scaffolding safety is a set of preemptive actions in building, inspecting, using, and tagging scaffolds. To ensure scaffolding safety, the scaffold must be built under the supervision of a competent person, and workers must be trained by a qualified person before they use the scaffold. The scaffold and its components should also be checked by a competent person and properly tagged before the start of the shift to ensure its integrity and safety.
Around 65% of the construction industry work on scaffolds and experience 4,500 injuries and 60 fatalities annually in the United States alone. Scaffolding safety is important because it can help prevent workplace incidents from recurring. With baseline scaffold requirements to keep workers safe such as better inspections, training, and controls, frontline teams can ensure scaffolding safety and be proactive about building a safety culture from the ground up.
According to OSHA, a competent person is “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” This is typically someone who holds a scaffolding high-risk work license.
While a qualified person is one who “has successfully demonstrated his/her ability to solve or resolve problems related to the subject matter, the work, or the project.” A qualified person has the right background such as education or degree in designing safe scaffolding, for example this could be someone from the scaffold manufacturer or trained scaffold engineer.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that 72% of scaffold injuries were due to scaffold planking or support giving way, slips, or falling objects. With regular inspections performed by a competent person, adequate scaffold safety training provided by a qualified person, and compliance with local regulatory standards, these dangers can be controlled.
Here’s a simple guide you can follow to control the hazards when working on a scaffold:
Scaffold tags are used to protect the lives of your workers. It identifies if a scaffold is safe or unsafe for use. Follow the guidelines below when tagging scaffolds.
It is common practice to use a scaffold tag system with the following color schemes: Green, Yellow, Red.
Meaning: Tags will be hung on scaffolds that have been inspected and are safe for use. A green “SAFE FOR USE” tag(s), and should be attached to the scaffold at each access point after the initial inspection is complete.
Meaning: “CAUTION” tag(s), will replace all green “Safe Scaffold” tag(s) whenever the scaffold has been modified to meet work requirements, and as a result, could present a hazard to the user. This tag indicates special requirements for safe use.
NOTE: Use of the “yellow tag” status is not intended to override the green tag system. All efforts should be made to return the scaffold to a “Green Tag” status as soon as possible.
Meaning: “DANGER – UNSAFE FOR USE” tag(s), will be used during erection or dismantling when the scaffold is left unattended and replace all green “Safe for Use ” tag(s) or yellow “Caution / Hazard “ tag(s) in the event a scaffold has been deemed unfit for use.
Scaffolding safety checklists in iAuditor by SafetyCulture, the best health and safety software of 2020, can be used to record, inspect, and recommend actions to prevent injuries when working on a scaffold. Get started with these free sample templates to ensure that your scaffold is safe and ready to use.
SafetyCulture staff writer
Jona has been part of SafetyCulture for more than 2 years contributing her experience in writing quality and well-researched content. She usually writes a topic about risks, safety, and quality.
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