A stimulating and thought provoking discussion addressing safety concerns with scaffolding.
2012 will be an interesting year with the economy, presidential elections, wars, and unemployment weighing heavy on our minds. In an effort to keep your mind off these depressing subjects, I thought it would be a good idea to focus on what you enjoy—scaffolding! Well, it beats thinking about the economy tanking and besides, this is a magazine for scaffolding and access.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if everybody was perfect? Scaffolds would be perfectly constructed and perfectly used by perfectly trained employees. Now there’s something to think about. Just think of the ramifications. No angry jobsite safety monitors; no OSHA citations; no injuries; no deaths. I wonder what that would do to the unemployment figures.
Why do people like to misuse and abuse scaffold components? Take knee-outs and brackets as an example. Why do erectors think knee-outs will support ten tiers of scaffold on top of them and why do users think brackets will hold a mountain of block and brick?
What would happen if we had no OSHA standards? Would injuries and deaths increase, stay the same, or decrease? What would the industry do? What would you do? Would you do anything differently? What if there were no compliance officers? Would it make any difference to your behavior? Why do we not have one set of standards for the scaffold and access industry in this country? For example, are the states so unusual that we have to have different standards in California and Michigan? Why did Washington State rewrite the federal OSHA standards in a “friendly” prose? Apparently nobody in Washington understood that the standards are not instructions but rather are minimum, enforceable requirements.
Why did the Army Corp of Engineers write a separate scaffold standard somewhat modeled after the federal regulations but yet sufficiently modified so that it is extra confusing? It would almost seem that scaffolding and physics mutate into strange creatures from state to state and agency to agency. This could get scary!
Why do we equate longevity with expertise? You know, just because you have been doing something over and over doesn’t make it right. And the opposite is true; how can a person fresh out of school be a consultant? And then we have someone on TV who said: “I’m not stupid you know, I just don’t know stuff.” Is there a way in 2012 to get scaffold users to know more stuff and increase their expertise?
Why do general safety consultants who have never erected a scaffold think they know more about an erection than a scaffold erector? Why do some scaffold erectors think they are exempt from the accepted safety practices? Why is everybody an expert in fall protection and scaffolding? How can a compliance officer, fresh out of school, understand the 28 subparts of the OSHA Construction Standards? Why do compliance officers get minimal training in scaffolding?
Why is the American Society of Safety Engineers the secretariat of the ANSI scaffolding standard and not the SIAI? And here’s something to really ponder: Has anyone measured the cost/benefit ratio regarding the extensive and some may argue oppressive, government intervention in the scaffold industry?
What will 2012 bring for you? I wish for you a prosperous, enjoyable year and you experience a year of good health free of injury.