The hazards of suspended scaffolds
Suspended scaffolds are hazardous because they are often operated at extreme elevations. Fall protection for scaffolds includes personal fall arrests systems or guardrails and must be provided for scaffolds that are 10 feet and more above a lower level. Each employee on a scaffold that is more than 10 feet above the lower level must be protected from falling to the lower level. Each employee on a two-point adjustable suspended scaffold must have the protection of a guardrail and a personal fall arrest system that is attached by a lanyard to a vertical lifeline, Horizontal lifeline or scaffold structural member.
Requirements for vertical and horizontal lifelines
If a Horizontal life line equipment is used, it must be secured to two or more structural members of the scaffold while a vertical lifeline must be fastened to a fixed safe point of anchorage that is independent of the scaffold and protected from sharp edges and abrasion. Safe points of anchorage for the vertical lifelines include structural members of buildings but not standpipes, vents or electrical conduits which can give way under the force of a fall. Attaching two or more vertical lines to each other or to the same point of anchorage is not allowed. If a lanyard is connected to a Horizontal lifeline or structural member, the scaffold must have additional independent support lines and automatic locking devices that can stop a scaffold from falling should one or both of the suspension ropes fail. Independent support lines must be equal to the number and strength of the suspension ropes.
How to use personal fall arrest systems safely
Employees on the two-point adjustable suspended scaffold must be protected by the personal fall arrest system but in order to stop a fall safely, it must have limit maximum arresting force to 1,800 pounds and be rigged in a way that an employee neither free falls from more than 6 feet or contacts any lower level. The system must safely bring an employee to a complete stop and should limit maximum deceleration to a distance of about 3.5 feet. It must also have sufficient strength that can withstand twice the potential impact energy of a worker that is free falling from a distance of 6 feet or a free fall permitted by the system or whichever is less. The fall arrest system must be rigged so that the employee can only move as far as the edge of the working surface when used in hoist areas. If the system has been subjected to a fall impact, it must be inspected by a competent person and declared suitable for use.