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July 29, 2013
Construction is up, but injuries don't have to be!

Falls, electrocutions, falling objects, and crush injuries threaten construction workers every day. And with the housing market heating up, the risk is even greater.

As a contractor or construction-related employer, you must comply with the law and keep your employees safe during the busy summer building season.

OSHA is dedicating considerable resources to construction safety, and compliance officers are busy conducting inspections. The law firm Cousins, Desrosiers, and Morizio notes, “As contractors rush to move projects through the pipeline in order to bring in more revenue, safety can sometimes take a back seat.” According to the firm, almost 20 percent of the fatal injuries suffered by workers in private industry in 2011 were in construction.

Avoid the heartache and expense of falls

Falls can be catastrophic. OSHA requires that those working over 6 feet (ft) off the ground use fall protection. This regulation now applies to residential as well as commercial construction projects.

Scaffolds can be especially hazardous. Construction employers must make sure that rules for erecting and using them are scrupulously followed.

Use this OSHA scaffold checklist to ensure that you are taking the right precautions:

  • Scaffolds should be set on sound footing.
  • Damaged parts that affect the strength of the scaffold must be taken out of service.
  • Scaffolds should not be altered.
  • All scaffolds should be fully planked.
  • Scaffolds should not be moved horizontally while workers are on them, unless they are designed to be mobile and workers have been trained in the proper procedures.
  • Employees are not permitted to work on scaffolds when covered with snow, ice, or other slippery materials.
  • Scaffolds cannot be erected or moved within 10 ft of power lines.
  • Employees are not permitted to work on scaffolds in bad weather or high winds unless a competent person has determined that it is safe to do so.
  • Ladders, boxes, barrels, buckets, or other makeshift platforms should not be used to raise work height.
  • Extra material is not allowed to build up on scaffold platforms.
  • Scaffolds should not be loaded with more weight than they were designed to support.
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