Safety hazards identification

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SAFETY HAZARDS IDENTIFICATION

Numerous safety hazards could be observed at the scaffolds worksite from the start of its erection. As scaffold is a safety related business, good safety mean good quality. Good scaffold helps prevent accident.

1. Debris falling from work platform

Personnel working on scaffolds, as well as other workers passing near or under the scaffolding risk being hit by falling objects.Falling objects, such as tools, steel, bolts and debris, can result in serious head trauma, concussion, broken bones or neck injuries. These injuries can require surgery, along with months of missed work and painful recovery. In the worst cases, the injuries could cause the worker to no longer work in his trade.

Control measures

To prevent any workers from being hit by objects, numerous control measures can be introduced. These include:

Ø Installing guardrail systems, toe-boards or debris nets

According to U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (3), OSHA 1926.451(h)(1) stipulate that 'workers wearing hardhats shall be further protected by installation toe-boards, screens, or guardrail systems. Debris nets, canopy systems, catch platforms can also be used' (p. 44).

Potential falling objects can be prevented by installation of guardrail system with small openings. Strong debris net can be erected over workers below the scaffold to resist the impact of the falling objects. Toe-boards should be also used to prevent tools and materials from being knocked off the work platform.

Ø Practicing good housekeeping

According to Ministry of Manpower (7), 'CP: 14 Regulation 13 stipulates that 'concrete waste or other materials must be removed from the scaffold if the safety of any person is endangered by it' (p. 3).

As scaffold decks are usually small and confined, tools and materials should always be stored neatly. Debris and waste materials should be either put in a container or removed from the platform immediately and not be allowed to collect on the decks. Wire, various metal and small tools are tripping hazards which can cause serious falls from scaffolds.

Ø Check that no work is carried out below the working level

U.S. Department of Labor OSHA (3) states that '1926.451(h)(2)(i) stipulate to blockade the area below the scaffold and permit no one from entering as area is prone to falling objects' (p. 45).

Exclusion zones around scaffolding areas must be setup to prevent unauthorized persons from accessing the hazard area. Danger signs such as 'Keep Away - Falling Objects' could be displayed to warn approaching workers.

Ø Use of Personal Protection Equipment

Use hard hat that is made from rigid plastic instead of bump cap which is not strong enough to absorb the force of objects dropping from several stories high.

Hard hats must never be depended as the only mean of protecting workers against potential falling objects.

Ø Conduct training on proper transfer of materials

U.S. Department of Labor OSHA (3) states that 'under 1926.454(b), falling materials or tools are part of training requirement for all employees who are involved in erecting, dismantling, using, repairing, looking after, or examining of scaffold' (p. 53).

Workers should be trained never to throw or drop materials or tools from a scaffold for the sake of convenience or time-saving. If there is a need to move materials around, mechanical hoists can be used. Potential falling objects that are too big and heavy to be curb by measures should be placed away and secured, away from the edge of the surface.

2. Workers using tool-box to increase working height on platforms.

Planking guardrails, ladders and use of tool-boxes on scaffold platforms are some of the most common methods that workers use to increase their working height. This is dangerous as all these makeshift devices have the tendency to topple causing workers to fall injuring themselves in the process. Death could result if workers were to fall off the scaffold platform from high height. These makeshift devices are readily available to the workers working, resulting in these devices being wrongly used for other purposes.

Control Measures

According to Code of Federation Regulation 29 CFR 1926 (5), '1926.451(f)(14) stipulate that temporary arrangement such as boxes and pipes shall not be used to help workers increase their reach to higher level.

Code of Federation Regulation 29 CFR 1926 (5), states that 1926.451(f)(15) stipulate that ladders can only be used on large area scaffolds if workers wish to use it increase their working level. Workers usually use the ladders on small area scaffold too, endangering their safety. Common excuse used by workers will be that they thought their areas are big when they are actually small instead.

Ø Workers to install stilts to help them reach out higher

According to Oregon OSHA (2), 'guardrail system height must be increase equally to the height of the stilts used. Stilts must sit on surfaces that are even and free of gaps and other hazards that can cause loss of balance' (p. 27).

3. Scaffold was found with no labeling and marking

Scaffold with no label and notice would not be able to inform workers whether it is steady and safe for use. Scaffold under repaired would not be known by workers and they risk entering the unstable scaffold. The lack of important information could prove fatal for workers working on the scaffold as they could be crushed by unsafe scaffold structure.

Control measures

According to Ministry of Manpower (7), 'CP: 14 Regulation 28 stipulate that there must be at least one allocated mean of entry onto the scaffold and it should be label with sign and make safe for use for any person' (p. 4).

Scaffold manager examining a scaffold shall in accordance with Ministry of Manpower (7), 'CP: 14 Regulation 27, immediately after such inspection, display a notice or label indicating whether the scaffold is safe for use' (p. 11).

Workers must ensure that the scaffold has been certified and tagged as "Safe For Use" by an Approved Scaffold Contractor (ASC). The tag would indicate that the scaffold is adequate for its intended purpose, and is stable and in a safe condition.

Warning signs easily seen should be displayed during the course of construction and disassembling of all scaffolds. This serve to inform users that the scaffold is unsafe for use. For erected scaffolds, a notice of the Approved Scaffold Contractor company name and relevant contact number are encouraged to be displayed.

This notice/tag shall be in languages or sign easily understood by all persons using the scaffold and is in a form approved by the commissioner.

4. Mixing and matching of scaffold components by scaffold erectors

Scaffold erectors were building scaffold using scaffold components which they can find nearby. Housekeeping was not carried out to ensure the scaffold components have been sorted out and stored orderly. According to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (4), 'Components from different manufacturers may look compatible but are often of different measurements and hardness. Mixing them can lead to difficulties in construction or dismantling which may cause wear on the components, affect the integrity of the scaffolds and increase the workers risk of injuries' (p. 8).

Control Measures

According to the Code of Federation Regulation 29 CFR 1926 (5), OSHA 1926.451(b)(10) stipulate that unless scaffold components can fix together without impact and the scaffold architectural integrity is maintained by worker, different manufacturers components shall not be intermixed.

Different manufacturers' scaffold components must never be modified in order to mix them unless the finished scaffold is determined architectural safe by a qualified person.

To prevent workers from injured and the collapsed of scaffolds due to incorrect mixing of scaffold components, the following controls according to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (4) can be used:

1. 'Do not mix different manufacturers scaffold components, unless a qualified engineer approved that

§ The components are of compatible dimension and hardness

§ The components have compatible deflection characteristics

§ The equipment for fixing are compatible

§ The integrity of the scaffold is not affected by the mixing

2. Different modular systems connection points consist of a different shape and hardness and are not compatible.

3. Never mix scaffolding couplers and tubing of different dimensions and strengths unless an engineer or manufacturer has created the couplers for specific task. Example will be mixing aluminum and steel components, where the steel clamps may compress the tubing reducing its strength.

CONTROL MEASURES PRACTISED AT WORKSITE

Although numerous hazards were identified at the worksite, some good control measures could still be observed being adopted by workers.

1. Ladder access systems were installed at every level of scaffold platforms. This enables safe access for the workers. One common hazard was the use of cross braces as access which resulted in the death of many workers as they seek convenience. Cross braces would be discouraged to the workers as a means of access with the ladder access system now installed.

Ministry of Manpower (7) 'CP: 14 Regulation 17 stipulate that stairway type, hook-on or portable ladders must be provided to enable access from one level to another level, and be installed as feasible as possible inside the scaffolds' (p. 2).

2. The scaffolding supervisor was there to ensure that all workers wear safety helmets and full body harness before commencing work at the scaffolds. The safety helmets provide workers with protections from overhead falling objects while the full body harnesses provide fall protection. Harnesses with double lanyards can be recommended for use instead of the single lanyard being used.

According to Ministry of Manpower (7), 'CP: 14 Regulation 7 stipulate that every scaffold erector and every suspended scaffold rigger must use apply the use of safety harness attached to a shock absorbing device'.

3. Metal platforms were used instead of wood plank for each level of scaffold. This reduces the risks of breaks, knots and cracks which can happen easily on wood plank.

4. Scaffold materials were inspected before use. Bent and damaged frames and braces were not used in the erection of the scaffold. These are put aside for replacement or repair. Materials inspection should always be done before the erection of every scaffold. This reduces the risk of scaffold collapse.

5. Erected scaffold were tie to the building. This helps to prevent supported scaffolding from tipping'.

According to U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (3), 'OSHA 1926.451(c)(1)(iii) stipulate that ties, guys, braces, or outriggers shall be used to prevent the tipping of supported scaffolds in all circumstances where an eccentric load, such as a cantilevered work platform, is applied or is transmitted to the scaffold' (p. 31).

REFERENCES:

(1) Ministry of Manpower. Chapter 104. Factories (Scaffolds) Regulations. Singapore: Ministry of Manpower; 2004.

(2) Oregon OSHA. Subdivision 3/L. Scaffolds Guidelines for Oregon Workers. Salem: OR-OSHA Resource Center; 1986.

(3) U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA 3150. A Guide to Scaffold Use in the Construction Industry. Pittsburgh: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2000.

(4) Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. Scaffolding Code of Practice 2009. Scaffolding Code of Practice 2009. Queensland: Department of Justice and Attorney-General; 2009

(5) Code of Federation Regulation 29 CFR 1926 1926.451, Scaffolds General Requirements. [Online]. Available from: http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=10752/ [Accessed 15 January 2010].

(6) Code of Federation Regulation 29 CFR 1926 1926.454, Scaffolds Training Requirements. [Online]. Available from: http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=10755/ [Accessed 15 January 2010].

(7) Ministry of Manpower. Probe Technical Advisory for Scaffolds. [Online]. Available from: http://www.mom.gov.sg/publish/etc/medialib/mom_library/Workplace_Safety/mashw_probe_2.Par.38085.File.tmp/Technical%20Advisory%20for%20Scaffolds/ [Accessed 16 January 2010].

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