Is Your Rusty Scaffolding a Safety Concern?
The short answer would be; “Yes!” Rusted scaffolding presents a significant risk in an otherwise safe working environment. Essentially, rust is a form of corrosion which occurs when water helps to oxidize the iron. This process actually removes the iron atoms from the original structure of the exposed steel thus compromising the structural integrity.
The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) considers corrosion to be a limiting factor and employers should be wary. ANSI states in A10.8(4.10): “Any scaffold damaged or weakened from any cause shall be immediately removed from service and shall not be used until repairs have been completed and approved by a qualified person.”
So at what point is the scaffold system considered “damaged or weakened?” At this point, despite the quantifiable nature of wall thickness in scaffold tubing, there is no specific limit. That is not to say that there is no responsibility. According to Chip Macdonald from Roofing Contractor: “If a civil lawsuit arises from a workplace scaffold accident, the lawyer for the injured plaintiff will subpoena both his client’s employer and his competent person for trial testimony. It would be expected in such a trial that the competent person for scaffold would defend his/her competency by producing adequate documentation of qualitative inspections and quantitative evaluations.”