Risk around Scaffolding A scaffold is defined as an elevated, temporary work platform. The three basic types of scaffolds are: • Supported scaffolds, which consist of one or more platforms supported by rigid, load-bearing members, such as poles, legs, frames, outriggers, etc. Common types of supported scaffolds are frame, system, mobile (rolling), etc. • Suspended scaffolds, which are one or more platforms suspended by ropes or other non-rigid, overhead support. Suspended scaffolds are often used when washing windows or to access bridges and other structures when overhead support is the best option. • Other scaffolds, principally man lifts, cherry pickers, scissor lifts, etc., are sometimes thought of as vehicles or machinery but can be regarded as another type of supported scaffold. Preventing Scaffolding Accidents The most important preventative measures are training and education, proper selection of equipment, and proper use of equipment. Education is the most powerful tool in reducing the number and severity of scaffold-related injuries. Following are some basic guidelines for workers who use scaffolds: When using supported scaffolds: • Prior to use, inspect the scaffold to ensure it has not been altered and is in safe working condition. • Erected scaffolds and platforms should be inspected continuously by those using them. • Exercise caution when entering or leaving a work platform. • Do not overload scaffolds. Follow manufacturer's safe working load recommendations. • Do not jump onto planks or platforms. • Do not use ladders or makeshift devices to increase the working height of a scaffold. Do not plank guardrails to increase the height of a scaffold. • Climb in access areas only, and use both hands. • Where required, use proper personal fall arrest equipment, and use it properly. When using suspended scaffolds: • Use all equipment and all devices in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. • Do not overload, modify, or substitute equipment. • Before commencing work operations, preload wire rope and equipment with the maximum working load, then retighten wire rope clips and recheck rigging to manufacturer's recommendations. • Inspect all rigging equipment and suspended scaffold systems daily. • Inspect wire rope during each ascent or descent for damage. • Use care to prevent damage to equipment by corrosive or other damaging substances. • Clean and service equipment regularly. • Always maintain at least four (4) wraps of wire rope on drum type hoists. • Do not join platforms unless the installation was designed for that purpose. • Move suspended scaffolds horizontally only when they are not occupied. • When rigging for another drop, ensure sufficient wire rope is available before moving the suspended scaffold system horizontally. O H & S estimates as many as 50 lives can be saved and 4,500 accidents prevented annually if construction sites are compliant with current safety standards. The most common scaffold hazards are: • falls from elevation; • collapse/overturning of the scaffold; • being struck by falling tools, work materials, or debris; and • electrocution, principally due to proximity of the scaffold to overhead power lines.