Imagine A World Without OSHA Scaffold Rules

By David H. Glabe, P.E. / September 1, 2007

Imagine a scaffold industry without rules and guidelines.  Imagine that you could do anything you wanted with a scaffold.  Imagine a scaffold industry without OSHA or ANSI.  (I’ll bet a few of you could easily imagine that!)  Imagine that you had no idea how to use a scaffold safely.  Imagine nobody cared about your safety.  Imagine a scaffold industry without dedicated people.  If you can imagine any of those things, then you probably cannot imagine that a dedicated group of men and women convened in Long Beach California in July to do what many cannot imagine:  promote the safe use of scaffolding, advance the knowledge base of the business of scaffolding, and yes, develop guidelines, codes, training materials, and methods to help you use the product of scaffolding in a safe manner.

And wait, there’s more!  These same dedicated folks work with the very organizations that set regulations and rules that govern this scaffold industry.  Now, if you don’t like this kind of relationship, then you are in the wrong company of individuals.  Simply stated, because of the Scaffold Industry Association (SIA), you have workable standards.  Because of the SIA, you have guidelines for the safe use of scaffolding.  Because of the SIA, you have fall protection representatives talking with scaffold people who are talking with scaffold users.  Because of the SIA, scaffold users are talking with industry experts and getting advice on the proper use of scaffold products.  And the best part of all this is that these dedicated folks, who have worked hard on your behalf have done it because they get paid — nothing!

That doesn’t make any sense, somebody doing something for nothing.  But that’s what was going on at the Long Beach Convention.  And it goes on all year.  Look at some of the specifics:  The Supported Scaffolds Council is producing a presentation that you can use to train your employees and customers on the safe use of scaffolds.  Similarly, the Suspended Scaffold Council has also produced an excellent presentation that you can use to train your employees and customers on the safe use of suspended scaffolds.  The Plank Council has done the same for you.  All of this is done without any financial compensation.  That, frankly, is pure dedication.

The upside on all this effort is a safer and more productive work environment.  The association also works with the code and standard writing agencies, representing your interests and ensuring that the codes and standards that are developed reflect the best intentions and requirements of all interested parties.  For example, the SIA is the secretariat for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) committees that develop the consensus standards for aerial platforms.  The SIA has been involved with the ANSI committee for scaffolds for many years, protecting your interests and helping in guiding the committee in developing effective guidelines.  SIA has participated with federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Administrations (OSHA) for decades; that participation continued in Long Beach where a safety conference was held.  California OSHA representatives participated in a panel of experts who answered questions and explained policy.  This is indicative of the type of work that is being done for you and the industry.

At the Long Beach convention, you had the opportunity to talk to manufacturers and suppliers of scaffolding products and services.  These exhibitors illustrated the essence of the business, the vibrancy and future of the business.  Many exciting new developments could have been viewed and inspected, from new scaffold innovations to software that improves your productivity to safety products that impact the welfare of your employees.

Finally, there is one important aspect that you may not have seen had you attended the convention. It’s what I like to call the invisible operators.  This essential group of individuals includes the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee and the SIA staff.  This is the behind the scenes activity that steers the association and makes it function. The dedication of the members to the cause drives the association; individual participation and expertise sustains it; new ideas propel it to new expectations.  The results were apparent at the Long Beach convention.  This is what your association does for you. Thanks for being part of it.

Tags: American National Standards Institute ANSI OSHA Standards & Regulations Resources scaffolding industry association SIA

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David H. Glabe, P.E.

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