Scaffold Safety: Pump Jacks and Ladder Jacks

June 12, 2014 • Previsor

Pump jacks and ladder jacks are handy tools for anyone doing residential or commercial construction or remodel work. They’re fairly inexpensive to purchase and are reasonably easy to set up. When assembled correctly they provide a safe and stable working surface that’s versatile and can be used for many different types of construction. When safety measures are not observed, these helpful tools can become deadly. Take a moment to review some pump jack and ladder jack safety strategies that might just save you money and your employees’ lives.

Prepare and prevent

Many employees die or sustain severe lifelong disabilities after falling from unprotected walk boards. If you aren’t in the know about what it takes to make scaffolds, pump jacks and ladder jacks safe, check out some of OSHA’s resources available online. The following web pages detail both mandatory and non-mandatory OSHA requirements and can be distributed at your safety meetings.

Eaves, roofs, overhangs, dormers and hillsides create precarious challenges for exterior building finish crews. Gutter, soffit and siding crews have a hard time reaching every part of the structure safely. Here are some to tips to keep your crews safe when doing this type of work:

  • Stay up to date on the latest fall arrest anchorage points.
  • Provide equipment that allows a crew to tie off on an existing structure without causing damage or a lot of extra work.
  • Study the best methods for creating an anchorage point on a finished eve or roof.
  • Check out the latest ladder technology. A pump jack or ladder jack may not be the best tool.
  • Consider using a boom lift if terrain and reach will allow.
  • Check out WorkSAFE Center’s online roofing safety resources.

No matter what type of scaffold you use, employers should consider the following administrative steps:

  • Enforce written safety rules. No matter how small your company is, make sure every employee fully understands the safety expectations that are set.
  • Review the owner’s manual for each of your scaffold devices. Do your crews understand how to safely set up and use these scaffolds?
  • Provide training. Seasoned and new employees should fully understand the hazards that scaffolds present and how to erect, use and dismantle scaffold equipment. This knowledge will help decrease the risk of falls and electrocution.
  • Inspect equipment. Check all scaffold equipment for wear-and-tear, abuse, damage or overloading. Document inspections and have spare equipment available so employees won’t feel the need to use unsafe gear.
  • Hold supervisors and foremen accountable for safe job sites. Make sure they understand the risks involved and that there’s an expectation for safe job sites. Provide equipment including:
    • A personal fall arrest system for anyone using a ladder jack,
    • A selection of anchorage points, for use on different types of structure,
    • Guardrails and end protection for pump jacks, and
    • Enough ladders to mount and dismount walk boards safely.

The cost

Roofers, gutter and siding crews should think about how an employee fall could also endanger the success of the business. Profit margins may be tight, but how tight will they be after a fine or insurance premium increase? Small contractors typically cannot absorb the major costs involved in treating a fall victim. OSHA follows-up with an investigation after a serious injury or fatality, typically resulting in fines when inconsistencies are discovered.

There are thousands of construction contractors in Missouri that are made up of crews of three or four employees. Many of the employees are family members. Oftentimes workplace injuries or fatalities involve a close family member. Experience has shown that the contractor is always the first on the scene of a terrible injury. They have to provide first aid and life support to a coworker before the ambulance arrives. This a sad result of when basic safety rules aren’t followed.

June 12, 2014
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