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What is Scaffolding?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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Scaffolding is a temporary platform constructed for reaching heights above arms' reach for the purpose of building construction, maintenance, or repair. It is usually made of lumber and steel and can range from simple to complex in design, depending on its use and purpose. Millions of construction workers, painters, and building maintenance crews work on scaffolding every day, and due to the nature of its use, it must be properly constructed and used to ensure the safety of those who use it.

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) has very specific standards for the construction and use of scaffolding in the workplace, and many large commercial and government construction projects require all workers to have scaffold training and OSHA certification. Some of OSHA's regulations regarding its construction include using specific types of lumber when not using steel, weight limitations based on the design, and regular checks for weakened or broken sections. OSHA places stringent safety regulations on the construction and use of scaffolding not only to reduce serious workplace injury or death, but also to save employers millions in lost time and workers' compensation. OSHA can issue fines to any company, large or small, that they find to be in violation of these regulations.

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Commercial construction accounts for the largest use of scaffolding, but even residential construction and home improvement projects can sometimes require it. Professional painters are equipped to quickly and properly construct these platforms on the job, as are other professionals such as bricklayers and carpenters. Unfortunately, many homeowners attempt to construct scaffolding for personal use without the proper knowledge, which often results in injury. To avoid personal injury when attempting to repair, paint, or maintain a home, it's important that the homeowner know how to properly and safely erect a platform that will provide a stable work surface and will bear the weight placed on it. People who are unsure how to construct or use scaffolding should consult a professional contractor.

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