Waco Building Construction Technology

(WACO, Texas) – Students in two technical programs at Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus get to learn how to properly build and inspect scaffolding.

“Scaffolding is portable and is often the best solution, especially if the ground is uneven with a lot of slope,” said Tony Chaffin, an instructor in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program. “It is also relatively cost-effective for work areas that need their use for longer periods of time.”

At TSTC, Building Construction Technology students build scaffolding in the Construction Technology I class. Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance students learn the safety aspects of scaffolding in the OSHA Regulations – Construction Industry class.

Scaffolding can be used when interior or exterior work is too high or large to access safely with a ladder. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists on its website, osha.gov, requirements for the proper construction and use of scaffolding. Aerial lifts are considered to be a form of scaffolding. Some of the risks in using scaffolding include being hit by falling equipment, a lack of fall protection, and closeness to power lines, according to OSHA.

Building Construction Technology students learn about personal protective equipment, jobsite safety, and hand and power tool safety associated with scaffolding and other aspects of construction. Students also get to experience building scaffolding outdoors.

Chaffin said guardrails are required when the working height is 10 feet or more.

“Assembling the tubular scaffolding is not difficult,” Chaffin said. “If a person is understanding of the forces that can be exerted on scaffolding and if they are mechanically minded, many people could safely erect their own scaffolding as long as they don’t go too high. Great care must be taken when working from heights, and they can’t afford to cut any corners when putting together the scaffolding system.”

Scaffolding was on OSHA’s “Top 10 Most Cited Standards” list for fiscal year 2023, with more than 2,800 violations nationwide.

“Right now in Texas, scaffolding is being used more than ever, especially with the cost of land and acreage,” said Jason Morrow, an instructor in TSTC’s Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program at the Waco campus. “Nobody owns the sky, so we are starting to catch up with other states.”

Morrow teaches his students about fall protection and the daily inspection process for scaffolding. He said scaffolding that is safe for workers receives a green tag; if it is unsafe, a red tag is given until issues can be fixed.

“A lot of these (scaffolds) are specific to their brand, so we tell the students to follow the manufacturers’ instructions and never make parts or use other brands as replacement parts,” Morrow said.

Weather is another topic that students learn in the class. Morrow said construction site safety personnel, or competent people trained in the installation and use of scaffolding, should pay attention to local weather reports and follow OSHA’s weather guidelines to keep workers safe.

The International Code Council is one of the lead organizations that support promoting building safety awareness during Building Safety Month in May.

Registration continues for the fall semester at TSTC. For more information, go to tstc.edu

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