The Hazards of Working on Scaffolds and Ladders

It’s hazardous to work on scaffolds and ladders no matter how many safety precautions are involved with them and how sturdy they’re made. Of course, the weaker the ladder or the more poorly built the scaffolding is, the likelier you’ll end up in scaffolding accidents.

With that in mind, let’s talk about the four types of scaffolding hazards you should watch out for as a construction worker or home improvement specialist.

Four Major Types of Scaffolding Hazards

You need to be mindful of these four types of hazards involving scaffolding as a worker. They include scaffolding collapse, getting struck by falling objects, electrocution, and falling from the scaffolding.

  • Falling from the Scaffolding: Working with scaffolds involves workers working at high places to reach ceilings or put up roofs. Therefore, the likeliest accident they’ll face while standing on scaffolding or ladders is falling off of them.

Workers can fall off the scaffolding for a variety of causes, such as tripping on debris or tools lying on the scaffold surface, slipping on slippery substances like paint or water, the lack of guardrails, or wearing inappropriate footwear that lack grip.

Entering or exiting the scaffolding can lead to the worker accidentally falling as he climbs up or down if the access used isn’t meeting OSHA standards.

  • Struck by Falling Objects: When working with scaffolds, workers must wear helmets and have presence of mind to avoid getting struck by falling objects, like tools, materials, and debris from high levels of the scaffolding or work site.

The workers below the scaffolding or under lower levels of the scaffold are susceptible to the falling objects hazard. This also extends to other people working near the scaffold. Everyone is in danger of getting hit by a falling power tool, construction tool, paint cans, debris, or bricks.

  • Electrocution: Speaking of power tools, another common scaffolding hazard for workers is getting electrocuted while using tools for cutting, welding, and drilling while stationed in the raised platform. Electrocution hazards are likelier on scaffolds built with metal, by the way.

Scaffolding precautions against accidental electrocution while power tools are used on the scaffold must meet OSHA scaffolding standards. By the way, OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

  • Scaffolding Collapse: Workers should absolutely make sure the scaffolding they’ve built to reach higher places when doing construction or home improvement work also meet the standards for scaffolding of OSHA. This prevents the likely fatal hazard of scaffolding collapse.

For example, according to OSHA, suspended scaffolds should use strong ropes that must be securely attached to permanent structures. A competent person should also inspect the locking system, hoists, counterweights, wire rope clips, and tiebacks of the scaffold in question.