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Scaffolding: a construction necessity, workplace safety risk pt2

In our prior post, we discussed a workplace accident that could have implications for many of our readers here in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The accident involved a scaffolding collapse that took the lives of three men and left another severely injured.

With the current economic climate, researchers with the Winston-Salem Journal argue that we can expect to see more of these types of workplace accidents. To understand this prediction, we have to go back a few years to just before the beginning of the modern recession.

In 2008, a financial crisis hit the United States, and the economy took a massive downturn. The construction industry felt the effects when developers put many projects on hold or cancelled them entirely. Investors are gaining confidence as the economy recovers. As a result, construction projects are beginning to pick up with increasing rapidity.

With more construction comes a greater need for scaffolding. These structures are found on the outside of buildings, and are often used by masons, window installers and others who need to put the finishing touches on a project.

The Center for Construction Research and Training published a report in December 2010 explaining that these structures have become incredibly safe since they were first introduced around 1983. Although technology has helped manufacturers improve these structures, they are only safe if used properly.

Education and training is crucial to the safe operation of these “mast climbing” structures, noted the Winston-Salem Journal. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration looks to see if workers received proper training in its investigations into workplace accidents. Although it is a factor in OSHA investigations, the report noted that OSHA has few regulations specifically covering the use of mast climbers.

Proper training is only one factor that OSHA looks for when investigating workplace accidents such as these. What else do agency officials focus on in their investigations? Visit our blog tomorrow to read more about OSHA investigations.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal, “Scaffolding collapse highlights risks, lack of OSHA rules,” March 29, 2013

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