Follow Safety Standards, And Common Sense, To Ensure Safe Scaffold Use

A scaffold is an elevated, temporary work platform that is engineered in a specific manner to support a defined weight load. Ensuring the safety of workers who utilize scaffolds, and avoiding injury to nearby people or property, requires choosing equipment that meets current safety standards, installing it as directed by the manufacturer, and using it for its intended purpose. Any tampering with the construction or weight load can result in injury or death.

The first consideration when practicing scaffolding safety is proper selection. Only use scaffolds that have been tested to the ANSI/SSFI SC 100 standard. When choosing a suspended scaffold, be sure that the hoist complies with ANSI/UL 1323 and that it has been tested and approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or ETL Testing Laboratories. Parapet clamps, cornice hooks and outrigger beams should be tested to the ANSI/SSFI SPS 1.1 standard.

One of the problems associated with scaffold use is collapsing, which can result when the scaffold is overloaded or improperly assembled. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions concerning loading. Evaluate the weight of the workers and materials that the scaffold will support, and determine if the buildings or structures that may be used to support the scaffold are adequate for that weight load.

Another common accident involving scaffolds is overturning or tipping, which can occur if a scaffold is not properly tied. The general rule is that ties must be installed if the scaffold height, as measured to the uppermost platform, is greater than four times the smallest base dimension. Cantilevered platforms, such as side brackets and hoist arms, can exacerbate the problem of overturning and may require that the scaffold be tied at lower points. Additional ties may be necessary if an enclosure is put on the scaffold, because any enclosure, even an open mesh one, increases wind loading, which can cause overturning.

Scaffolds should be equipped with toeboards to avoid injuries to the people and property below from falling tools, materials or debris. The ANSI/ASSE A10.8 standard says that toeboards are required with guardrail systems on all open sides and ends of a scaffold if the structure is in a location where individuals are required to work or pass under it.

The standard goes on to say that when materials are piled higher than the toeboard, the scaffold must be equipped with a safety screen that is strong enough to prevent objects from falling. The screen must be positioned between the toeboard and the toprail and extend along the entire opening.

When a scaffold is in use, don’t allow workers to remove a scaffold component without authorization, because it may cause the structure to become unstable or render safety equipment dysfunctional. You should also never permit workers to alter scaffold components or use them for purposes for which they were not designed.

If a rolling scaffold is being used, wheels or casters must be locked to prevent scaffold movement. In addition, the top platform height, as measured from the rolling surface, must not exceed four times the smallest base dimension. Secure or remove all materials from rolling scaffolds before moving them. Never permit workers to ride a rolling scaffold.

By following established safety standards, and using a common-sense approach, you’ll be able to avoid some of the most common accidents and injuries that can result from scaffold use.

When It Rains, It Pours: Why You Need a Personal Umbrella Policy

In recent years, our society has become what some people call “lawsuit happy.” In other words, an increasing number of people are filing lawsuits for everything from emotional injury to property damage-and they’re suing for larger amounts than ever before. If someone were to file a lawsuit against you, you could end up losing hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, even if you won.

While you may have some personal liability coverage through your homeowner’s or auto insurance policy, it’s probably not nearly enough to cover a major lawsuit. Fortunately, you can further protect yourself with what’s known as an umbrella policy. This type of policy offers a higher level of liability coverage and ensures that you and your family will be protected if someone sues you for damages.

Read on to learn more about these valuable policies:

Umbrella policies: A liability coverage “extension”

When it comes to lawsuits, the more assets you own, the more you stand to lose. A personal umbrella liability policy can protect you from these potentially devastating losses. These policies act as an extension to the current liability protection you probably have through your homeowner’s or auto insurance policy.

Umbrella policies are typically sold in million dollar increments, and you can obtain a policy once your home and auto insurance policies meet a minimum “attachment point”-typically a liability limit of $250,000 or $500,000.

What does it cover?

Most umbrella policies covers the following:

  • Personal injury, including false arrest, mental anguish, malicious prosecution, libel, slander, defamation of character, wrongful entry or eviction, negligent infliction of emotional distress or invasion of privacy.
  • Bodily injury, such as physical injury or death. In some jurisdictions, this also includes emotional injury.
  • Property damage, including destruction of the property of others, cost of recreation and loss of use. However, it does not cover damages done to your own property.
  • Defense coverage, including groundless, false and fraudulent suits, bail bond costs, loss of earning and other “reasonable” expenses.

Of course, it’s probably easier to understand exactly what an umbrella policy covers by putting it into real-life terms. Here are a few examples of what this type of policy could cover:

  • A deliveryman is hauling your new washing machine into your home when he trips on your door mat, falls and breaks his neck. Your umbrella policy would likely cover the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damages.
  • You’re driving down the road when an important corporate CEO steps into the crosswalk in front of your car. He sues you for millions of dollars in medical costs, lost earning and damages. Your umbrella policy can cover you for these damages.
  • Your daughter invites a friend over to play on her swing set. Her friend falls off the slide and suffers from serious injuries. When her parents sue you, your umbrella policy will cover the medical costs.

How much does is it cost?

The price of an umbrella policy depends on how much coverage you want, the number of properties you rent or own and the number of automobiles or watercraft you own. The cost associated with cars and watercraft are much higher than those associated with properties.

Let’s say you are single, you own one home and one car, and you want to purchase a $5 million umbrella policy. You’ll probably pay somewhere between $270 and $550 a year. On the other hand, if you are married with two children, you own two homes, a rental property and three cars, and you want a $10 million umbrella, you’ll probably pay a good deal more-anywhere between $970 or $1,750 a year.

Talk to your insurance agent to discuss whether or not an umbrella policy is right for you. In the long run, by paying a few hundred dollars per year, you could save millions.