Attention to safety on construction sites is a major concern for all masonry contractors. Increasingly, masonry projects are in quicker turnaround scenarios, and it is especially important that product and safety standards are not bypassed in the interest of meeting tight deadlines.

It is imperative that individuals be properly trained and educated, and that products and equipment used meet ANSI standards, to minimize the likelihood of injuries, or worse yet, death on construction sites.

Scaffolds used in masonry projects are often required to bear more significant loads than models employed by many other trades. As a result, masonry contractors need a heightened level of confidence in the equipment they use.

Safety programs

Masons are confronted daily by a myriad of issues, including a wide range of materials, proper mixing and application, different anchoring systems, and the safe use of scaffolds. In the past, mason contractors needed to research, learn, and validate the scaffold products they purchased to gauge their jobsite performance on their own.

To help take some of the burden from contractors, the Scaffolding, Shoring & Forming Institute (SSFI) has developed numerous test methods, processes, standards, and codes to assist in matching equipment performance with the needs on the jobsite. Completed test report forms, provided by the manufacturers of the scaffolding, shoring, and forming products, are one way to verify that equipment has been properly tested and rated.

The standards used for testing and rating scaffold equipment are rigorous and designed to validate the design. Multiple destructive tests are mandated in order to rate products using the standard.

Along with proper selection of equipment, training and education of mason contractors to OSHA and ANSI standards and proper use of equipment are the most effective preventative measures against accidents.

Using equipment safely

There are a number of basic guidelines to follow for ensuring worker safety.

Suspended scaffolds

  • Use all equipment and devices in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Do not overload, modify, or substitute equipment.
  • Before commencing work operations, preload wire rope and equipment with the maximum working load, retighten wire rope clips, and recheck rigging to the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Inspect all rigging equipment and suspended scaffold systems daily.
  • Inspect wire rope during each ascent or descent for damage.
  • Use care to prevent equipment damage from corrosives or other substances.
  • Clean and service equipment regularly.
  • Always maintain at least four wraps of wire rope on drum type hoists.
  • Do not join platforms unless the installation was designed for that purpose.
  • Only move suspended scaffolds horizontally when not occupied.
  • When rigging for another drop, assure sufficient wire rope is available before moving the suspended scaffold system horizontally.

Supported scaffolds

  • Inspect the scaffold before using to ensure that it has not been altered and is in safe working condition.
  • Erected scaffolds and platforms should be inspected continuously by those using them.
  • Exercise caution when entering or leaving a work platform.
  • Do not overload scaffolds; follow manufacturer's safe working load recommendations.
  • Do not jump onto planks or platforms.
  • Do not use ladders or makeshift devices to increase the working height of a scaffold.
  • Do not plank guardrails to increase the height of a scaffold.
  • Climb in access areas only, and use both hands.
  • Wear proper personal fall arrest equipment where required, and use it properly.

Scaffold, Shoring & Forming Institute

SSFI is dedicated to being the number one resource on scope products, drawing additional guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), various state standards, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards, and American Concrete Institute (ACI). Members of SSFI have demonstrated a commitment to the industry through the development of proper testing, rating, and safety standards for scope products.

These standards help purchasers and users determine whether their scaffolding, shoring, and forming equipment has been properly designed and tested. This service provides a critical function by providing safe equipment for those who work in the construction industry.

SSFI houses a host of information on its Web site, Free online resources include:

  • How-to information for safety in the field
  • Safety practices and guidelines
  • Educational information
  • Informative tech bulletins and documents
  • Product testing standards and information.

Dale Lindemer is the president of the Scaffolding, Shoring & Forming Institute and the national engineering manager at ThyssenKrupp Safway Inc. He has over 30 years experience in the scaffold/ shoring industry.