New Developments

By David H. Glabe, P.E. / March 1, 2008

I’m no genius and I am not a psychic but hey, I can spin a good story as well as anyone.  I will focus on what I know and what I’ve seen (that’s where a knowledge of the past is handy) and give you my opinion about the effect of new developments.  When one thinks of the scaffold frame, its tough to get excited about a 70 year old product.  It’s even tough to get excited about systems scaffold which, relatively speaking, is a new product in comparison with the scaffold frame.  Suspended scaffolds probably have the edge on new developments as far as traditional products go but even there we are still hanging around when we are using them.  Mast climbers, scissors lifts, boom lifts and similar mechanized devices are probably the biggest change in the industry in the past 25 years and will have the biggest impact as far as new developments.

Actually, the new developments I think are not with the specific products but rather how they are used more efficiently.  Additionally, developments in safety standards application will be a bigger development than the actual product.  Let’s take a look at how the safety standards, including the OSHA and ANSI standards, are affecting and will continue to affect the development of the industry.  You may think that this is not a “new development” but it is because of the evolution of standards and the agencies involved with their enforcement.  If the past is any indicator, and I think it is, this industry will continue its slow apathetic spiral downward, capitulating at every turn to ever stricter standards.  While this appears contradictory to the activities of the Scaffold Industry Association, especially in light of the wonderful developments at the recent Committee Week, I specifically address your attention to the willingness of scaffold industry workers to submit to safety officials who know little of the industry but have great authority.

Often I hear a scaffold company owner defer to OSHA, for example, because he/she does not want to make the effort to learn the subject matter.  I’m not ripping on OSHA or any safety people here; they are only filling the void left by lazy scaffold workers.  If you think I’m off base here, I politely ask you to think about your experience with OSHA and other safety workers.  Invariably, the experience always seems to be less than comfortable.  Why is that? Is it because they don’t know anything or is it because you don’t?

About this example:  For years a regulation has existed that requires all scaffolds have a safety factor of 4.  This means that the scaffold must be 4 times stronger than the load that will be put on it.

You cannot change what over, only where you go.

Tags: Scaffolding Aerial Lifts ANSI Mast Climber OSHA OSHA Standards & Regulations Resources Safety Hazards Scaffold Industry Association

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David H. Glabe, P.E.

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