Safety Archives | DH Glabe & Associates

All About Facade Access

By | Blog, Facade Access | No Comments

Industrial climbers are washing glass on the facade of a skyscrapeWhat Is Facade Access?

Facade access is a vital part of facilities maintenance & construction as it allows for the safe access to the exterior of a building. Facade access consultants design safe operations procedures and equipment for window washing, building envelope maintenance, and even initial construction. Due to OSHA and CalOSHA standards, all facade access systems must be engineered to certain specifications.

What Is Facade Access Consulting?

Facade access consultants ensure that all portions of the exterior can be accessed safely. This includes the design and testing of all structural components of a facade access system including davit pedestals, bases, monorails, fall protection anchors, tie-back anchors, trolleys, and any other structural element permanently attached to the building.

Facade access consultants ensure that the building is not only safe, but that it meets the code requirements for the particular region it is in. For example, the laws in California are much different than those in Florida. The facade access consultant ensures that these codes are taken into account when designing or testing access equipment.

An experienced consultant will also recognize how to make building access safe, while being mindful of installation cost. Consultants act as third-party representatives for owners, and therefore have no monetary incentive to “over-design” a building to outfit it with too much unnecessary equipment.

Testing and Re-Testing Intervals

Selecting and installing facade access systems is 75% of the battle. The true test of whether or not the installation was successful or not is discovered during the proof testing of the system. According to OSHA 1910.27 & 1910.66, all permanently mounted facade access equipment must be load tested when it is initially installed. This includes davits and anchors. Additionally, this equipment must be periodically re-tested to ensure safety. A Qualified Person must re-test the equipment every 10 years according to OSHA 1910.27, ANSI/IWCA I-14.1-2001, and ASME A120.1-2014.

The difference between a Qualified Person and a Competent Person is stark. According to OSHA, “a competent person must have authority to take prompt measures to eliminate hazards at the work site and have the experience to be capable of identifying these hazards…. a qualified person must have a recognized degree, certificate, etc., or extensive experience and ability to solve the subject problems, at the worksite.” Generally, a qualified person is required to certify a facade access system.

Determining Which Facade Access Consultant To Hire

The safety of your workers is paramount, and should not go to the lowest bidder. Paying slightly more for an experienced consultant will save you thousands in unnecessary equipment costs. When looking for a qualified engineering firm to handle your facade access systems and davit anchor needs, select a firm that has a broad range of experience with multiple types systems. Your firm should have a proven track record with a wide variety of clients — possessing knowledge on many different projects allows them to chose the best solution for your needs.


Choosing the Correct Fall Protection System

By | Blog, Fall Protection | No Comments

While the construction and engineering industry does come with a certain amount of inherent risk, contractors can be proactive about safety on projects. OSHA sets strict guidelines regarding fall protection measures because falls are commonly responsible for serious workplace-related injuries and deaths. The National Safety Council finds that falls from height are the reason for the most non-fatal days of missed work. Keeping this in mind, contractors and engineers should ensure that all employees receive regular preventative training. Additionally, when working from any height, workers should be provided with the appropriate fall protection system.

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4 Reasons Contractors Need Their Own Structural Engineers on Their Projects

By | Blog, OSHA Standards & Regulations | No Comments


When designing a construction project, few people realize that the designer often cannot answer common questions that arise during the construction process. The owner’s structural engineer, better known as the engineer of record (EOR), is hired primarily to design the project, but after the plans have been approved, the EOR does not get involved with the means and methods the contractor uses to deliver a finished project. This often leaves contractors flying blind, so to speak, as many times the plans contain errors or lack sufficient instructions. For these reasons, it is a good idea for contractors to hire their own, independent structural engineer, known as a contractor’s engineer.
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Do You Know Suspended Scaffolds?

By | Cantilever Beam, Hoists, Scaffolding | No Comments

Are you familiar with suspended scaffolds?  Do you know the difference between a suspended scaffold and a hanging scaffold?  Well, here’s a chance to show your friends and neighbors how well you know suspended scaffolds.  Take this quiz and see if you are the best of the best.

The answers are at the bottom of the page—no cheating!

 True or False

  1. ____A suspended scaffold is the same as a hanging scaffold.
  2. ____Outrigger scaffolds are one type of suspended scaffolds.
  3. ____You don’t need to utilize personal fall protection on a Multi-point Suspended Scaffold.
  4. ____Suspended scaffold users do not need any training if they are not operating the hoists on a suspended scaffold.
  5. ____Access is not required for a suspended scaffold.
  6. ____Counterweights for a cantilever beam can be ice or Jell-O.
  7. ____The safety factor for wire suspension ropes is at least 8.
  8. ____Counterweights cannot be used to stabilize outrigger beams on Mason Multi-point suspended scaffolds.
  9. ____Guardrails are not required on two point suspended scaffolds if all the occupants are wearing personal fall arrest   equipment.
  10. ___Guardrails or equivalent are required on Boatswains’ chair scaffolds.
  11. ___Outrigger beams secured directly to the roof do not require tiebacks.
  12. ___Suspended scaffolds shall be designed by a competent person and installed under the supervision of a qualified person, competent in scaffold erection.
  13. ___Vertical pickup means a rope used to support the horizontal rope in catenary scaffolds.
  14. ___Tiebacks only need to be one half the strength of the suspension ropes since they are there for back-up, not suspension.
  15. ___Sand can be used as a counterweight provided it is in a sealed strong metal container.


Now for the tough part, fill in the blank!

  1. When wire rope clips are used on suspension scaffolds, there shall be a minimum of ________ installed per connection.
  2. A stage rated for two workers or 500 pounds can support ________workers.
  3. Ropes shall be inspected for defects by a competent person prior to each ___________.
  4. Manually operated hoists shall require a _________crank force to descend.
  5. Wire rope clips shall be installed according to the __________recommendations.
  6. A two-point suspended scaffold is supported by _________ suspension ropes.
  7. Two-point suspended scaffold platforms shall not be more than ______inches wide unless it is designed by a ________person to prevent _________conditions.
  8. Suspension scaffold means one or more platforms suspended by _____ or other _______means from an overhead structure.
  9. The toprail of a suspended scaffold guardrail system must be able to withstand a force of at least ________pounds.


True or False Answers:

  1. False.  A hanging scaffold is constructed with rigid tubes while a suspended scaffold hangs from ropes.
  2. False.  Outrigger Scaffolds are a type of supported scaffold.
  3. True.  You need to install a guardrail system.
  4. False.  All scaffold users need training.
  5. False.  Proper access is required for all scaffolds.
  6. False.  The ice may melt and you might eat the Jell-O.
  7. False.  The minimum safety factor is 6.
  8. True.  The beams must be anchored to the supporting structure.
  9. False.  A guardrail system and PFE is required.
  10. False.  How do you attach a guardrail to a chair?
  11. True.
  12. False.  Suspended scaffolds shall be designed by a qualified person and installed under the supervision of a competent person, qualified in scaffold erection.
  13. True.
  14. False.  Tiebacks must be equal in strength to the suspension rope.
  15. True.  While not recommended, as long as the sand cannot leak out, it’s okay.
Fill in the Blank Answers:
  1. 3
  2. Depends on the weight of the workers.  You can put 5 on if they only weigh 125 pounds each.  Alternatively, if Bubba weighs 400 pounds, only he can be on it.
  3. Workshift.
  4. Positive.
  5. Manufacturer’s
  6. 2
  7. 36, qualified, unstable
  8. Ropes, non-rigid
  9. 100

Platforms – Will This Hold Me?

By | Resources, Scaffolding, Scaffolding Platforms | No Comments


The strength of the platform is critical, obviously, to the occupant.  Frankly, if the platform cannot hold the anticipated load, you won’t like the result.  The strength of the platform is determined by the designer and must be based on the anticipated load – that’s why the designer must know what the scaffold is going to be used for prior to designing the scaffold and the platform.  Criteria that determines the strength of the platform include the type of material (is it wood, wood veneer, metal or plastic?), the dimensions of that material, the orientation of those dimensions, and the span of the platform member between supports.  For example, a 2×10 wood member used on edge, the 10 inches vertical, holds much more than a 2×10 on the flat, the 10 inches horizontal.  (Of course, a 2×10 on edge is really tough to walk on unless you’re really good at balancing!)


The construction of the platform is critical to the success of the platform.  Not only is the platform required to remain in place but it must not make hazards for the user.  For example, if the platform isn’t wide enough, there are gaps in the platform where a foot or body can fall through, or the bearing isn’t sufficient, can make the scaffold experience unpleasant, if not hazardous, for the user.  The scaffold industry has established minimum expectations for platforms and these expectations have been codified in the OSHA standards.


A scaffold platform is really only a platform if it is safe.  Whenever a fall hazard exists a platform must have a guardrail system unless the platform users are utilizing personal fall protection equipment.  Each platform must also have a safe form of access.  Finally, all platforms must have falling object protection whenever that hazard exists.

Platform Considerations

Here are a few guidelines for the design, construction, and safe use of a platform:

  • If solid sawn wood plank are used, make sure they have a 4 to 1 safety factor.  Solid sawn plank used in General Industry applications must be scaffold grade;
  • Follow manufacturer’s load guidelines for laminated veneer lumber (lvl) and other fabricated plank, making sure not to exceed load limits;
  • Make sure all plank and platforms are in good shape and not detrimentally damaged (see SIA guidelines and manufacturers’ recommendations for planks and other products);
  • Make sure all platforms comply with the construction requirements of federal OSHA and other requirements:
  • Minimum Overhang:  6” minimum unless secured from movement
  • Maximum Overhang:  12” for short plank, 18” for plank longer than 10’ (federal) or secured from movement
  • Minimum Overlap:  12” or secured from movement
  • Maximum gap between units: 1”
  • Maximum space between back of platform and guardrail system: 9-1/2”
  • Maximum space between front of platform and work surface: 14” (16” CA)
  • If using solid sawn plank, make sure it is from a legitimate supplier with a legitimate grade stamp and documentation;
  • Provide proper access to all platforms;
  • Inspect platforms before use to make sure there is proper bearing and fall protection;
  • Verify plank and platform strength before placing any loads on the platform;
  • All scaffolds have a load limit.  Make sure you do not overload the scaffold with the number of platforms and the load on each platform.  You supplier can help with that determination.  If you are the supplier and do not have that answer, you need to get it;
  • If plywood and joists are used to make the platform, make sure the plywood is secured from movement and both the plywood and joists have been sized by a qualified person for the anticipated load;
  • Don’t paint wood plank-you can’t see the defects;
  • Make sure the platform scaffold components are compatible with each other.  For example, if joists and plywood are used, make sure the guardrail system is at the correct height.  If wood plank are used and overhanG the supports, make sure that access is not blocked;
  • On suspended scaffolds, make sure the stirrups and other components are compatible with the platform;
  • When using modular platforms, make sure the proper connections are used and secured;
  • Do not overload the platform or the scaffold!

There are other factors to consider when choosing a platform and a qualified scaffold designer will know the advantages of each.  If you are a user, know the limitations and load capacities of the platform before using it.  Remember, if the plank breaks, there’s nothing to stop you but the ground and that may be a long way down.  You falling 6 feet results in a force of about 2,400 pounds.  The wood plank that is supposed to stop you can only hold 1,000 pounds.  How many planks do you think you’ll break (and have to pay for) before you stop?

April Fools and Other Nonsense

By | Mast Climber, OSHA Standards & Regulations, Resources, Scaffolding | No Comments

The bumper sticker that says: “Safety is my Goal.”  What’s the guy doing until he gets to his goal?

The sign next to the elevator on the first floor that says: In case of fire, use the stairs, not the elevator.  What are you going to do, take the elevator up to see how the fire is doing?

What about the guy that claims he is “the safest guy around.”  Better keep an eye on him.

Why do they call a fall protection anchor a deadman?

Why do workers always say that they won’t fall?  Do we have workers that plan on falling?

Why does OSHA claim that self propelled aerial platforms (boom lifts to the rest of us) are mobile scaffolds?

How about:  I’m a scaffold erector—I don’t have to tie off.

I’m the safety guy—you have to tie off.

What about OSHA Approved Plank?

What about OSHA approved anything?

Will I be certified after I take this training?

How long is the OSHA ten hour class?

Is the OSHA ten hour class one third of the OSHA 30 hour class?

Why didOklahomathink that mast climbers are amusement rides?  (It was because of the wheels.)

How do I get OSHA to make me competent?

Once I have a wallet card, will I be competent?

How long before I am an expert?

I’ve been doing this for years; I don’t need no stinkin’ training.

Did you know that if you have a big object on a scaffold platform and the toeboard won’t keep it on the platform, your boss, not you, has to move the object away from the edge of the platform?  (Look it up-29 CFR 1926.451(h))

The OSHA standards require that canopies be installed between the falling hazard and the affected workers.  Where else would you install it?

Why do scaffolds always show up in the OSHA Top Ten Citations?

Why can masons be exposed to a fall hazard but scaffold erectors cannot?

Why can steel erectors be exposed to a fall hazard but scaffold erectors cannot?

If you have to be 10 feet, 0.8 inches away from a 52 KV power line, do you measure that distance with a metal tape measure?

If you use an anchor for fall protection that isn’t designed, how do you know how strong it is?

Who decided that 100% tie off is the same as 100% fall protection?

If you are going to determine if somebody is competent, don’t you yourself have to be competent?

Does anybody ever really stop at stop signs?

Why is there a warning on the dashboard of a golf cart that says you may get hurt if you fall out of the golf cart?  Are there really golfers that think you can fall out of golf carts safely?

Why do people think that experience equals knowledge?

Why does the federal government have different scaffold standards for construction, general industry, maritime and mining?  Are the scaffolds in each industry that different?

Why does the Army Corp of Engineers require toeboards on all scaffold platforms and yet nobody else does?

And now, here is a scaffold quiz for you to answer (and this is no nonsense):

  1. How fast are you going after you have fallen six feet___________________
  2. How long does it take to fall six feet_______________
  3. How much load can you safely put on a frame scaffold leg_____________________
  4. What’s the maximum normal spacing between horizontals on a tube & clamp scaffold_______________
  5. Who designs scaffolds____________________
  6. Who inspects scaffolds____________________
  7. Who erects scaffolds_______________________
  8. What is the safety factor on suspension ropes___________________
  9. What is the minimum width of a scaffold platform________________
  10. Who needs scaffold training? ________________________________________

See page ???? for the answers

  1. 13 mph
  2. 0.61 seconds
  3. About 2000-2500 pounds
  4. 6’-6”
  5. A qualified person
  6. A competent person
  7. A trained and experienced worker
  8. 6
  9. 18 inches
  10. Everybody involved with scaffolding including users.