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Painter’s World: Scaffolding Safety, and OSHA Standards

An estimated 2.3 million construction workers – 65 percent of total – work on scaffolding. And, of the 4,500 reported injuries and 50-60 deaths, 72 percent are attributed to planking or supports giving away, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.

In 2016, twenty painter fatalities were reported, and were attributed to slipping and falling. At this time, OSHA and the U. S. Department of Labor have no way of ascertaining the true figures in painter fatalities related to scaffolding. * Above statistics from the U. S. Department of Labor, and OSHA agency.

Keep in mind: Only twenty-eight of the fifty states in the U. S. have OSHA-approved state plans on board for scaffolding. This means they operate and offer state-wide OSHA programs on scaffolding system operations and management; equipment installation, set-up and take-down; repair, and maintenance; and, training, use and on-site troubleshooting.

Consider these realities: If you work for a painting contractor, licensed in one of those twenty-eight states, that contractor/company must be certified/licensed by OSHA to operate, install and use scaffolding systems on any job-site. The contractor/company must carry special liability insurance to cover every employee that will be working within 20-30 feet of that scaffolding.

Many rules must be followed, to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for the workers. And, the OSHA standards must be followed by companies that employ construction workers – painters – on a project basis, and not as part of their regular paint crews.

Note: OSHA Standard § 1926.451 also applies if you are a painting contractor, even a one-person shop in one of those twenty-eight states.

If you work as a staff painter and must, at any time, use a scaffolding system, your employer is legally responsible for that scaffolding. Here, “employer” can include the business owner(s); business/property management company, if any; top on-site manager(s); and, your supervisor(s). If your “employer” rents the scaffolding system that you must use, then, the scaffolding equipment company is also responsible.

Keep in mind: Scaffolding system safety is serious business. Literally, a life-and-death issue.


ATTENTION: Florida Painters and Construction Workers.

As of the beginning of 2018, the state of Florida did not have an OSHA-Approved Safety and Health Plan.


I. OSHA Scaffolding Safety Standards – § 1926.451



A. “Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Standards Violations in Fiscal Year FY2017. (10/01/16-09/30/17.

B. “Scaffolding, engineering requirements, Construction (29 CFR 1926.451) [Related OSHA Safety and Health Topics pgs.]

C. “OSHA is Making a Difference: Lesson Plan: Construction Training Program (10-hour), Topic: Scaffolding.”

D. “OSHA Guide to Safety Standards for Scaffolding Used in Construction Industry.” O3150, 2002 Revised. Pp. 33-90.

— “Focused Inspection Guidelines.” P. 3.

E. “OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) – Globally; Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

F. “OSHA’s New Fall Protection Standards/ (Regulations),” 2017.



A. Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG)




A.“5 Safety Tips when Working with Scaffolding.” By Kimberly Hagerman,, Posted March 25, 2013.

B.“12 Scaffolding Safety Tips and Handling Hints.”

C.“10 Important Scaffolding Safety Tips.” “Safety Scaffolding,” Contribute Industrial Products, Posted May 8, 2016.

D. “Scaffolding Safety Tips.” MSB (Morefield Speicher Bachman, LC, Overland Park, Kansas. Posted 05/30/2017.

E. “Protecting Your Business During the Cold Weather Months.” MSB, Posted 11/21/2017.



Scaffolding safety is the responsibility of everyone involved, including any painter that uses the system.


Copyright June 5, 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: A Scaffolding Accident Case Worth Reporting

Scaffolding injuries a year: 4,500; deaths: 50.


In 2016, at least sixty-five painters were reported as being injured in scaffolding accidents.


The term “fall prevention” hadn’t been conceived yet, let alone used in the construction industry, in the 1970s.


But, J.M., a twenty-four year old painter did fall over 30 feet, when the scaffolding system collapsed and broke apart. He suffered severe, permanent spinal cord, arm/hand/wrist and brain damage. Doctors did not know if he would ever sit and walk again. They were certain that he would never be able to work again. Even from a wheelchair.


For the rest of his life, he would require extensive medical treatment, surgical procedures, and rehabilitation services. Also skilled nursing care. All at a huge cost, and expense.


At the time of the accident, the third-generation painter carried a $1 million health insurance policy, through his national union, IBPAT/IUPAT.


On J.M.’s behalf, his parents sued for money to cover all of his current and, especially, future needs. Time period: From the date and time of the accident to the date and time of his death, funeral rite, and burial; and posthumously through the date of his last expense or cost.  The co-defendants in the lawsuit included the following: scaffolding manufacturing company, equipment rental company, general contractor/project construction company, property owners, his painting contractor employer, the state’s Workmen’s Compensation division, etc.


A Chicago law firm handled the case. It had an international reputation for successfully litigating employee-on-the-job accident cases pertaining to the construction industry, and related product design, engineering and manufacturing. The firm was recommended by an equally noted legal-medical researcher and physiologist. And, each person brought to the litigation team possessed an extensive background in specific areas pertaining to construction accidents, particularly those causing severe, permanent damages and disabilities. Even death.


J.M.’s physical and psychological status were apparent. The evidence files bulged with accident-scene photos and witness accounts, patient medical records and reports, and expert analyses. Added was employment records from before the accident, then from seven years later, when he tried, repeatedly, to work again through a special Social Security Administration program.


Still, the case took over eight years to settle. If it wouldn’t have been for his parents and sister holding down full-time jobs during those eleven years, J.M. wouldn’t have made it that long.


The large group of co-defendants agreed to settle out-of-court. A non-disclosure agreement had to be signed by all parties. The settlement sum and terms were never disclosed. (Even the closest friends of J.M. and his veteran painter father were never told the details.)


Few actual dollars exchanged hands. Remember: The family’s goal was to ensure that all of J.M.’s future needs would be met for the rest of his life. So, the attorneys on both sides collaborated to set up various special needs and other types of trusts for the disabled painter. Members of his family were named as co-trustees, also “limited co-beneficiaries.”


In time, he found a way to return to painting. He still required more treatments and more prescriptions medications to function. Some of his bodily damages had been inoperable.


In the years that J.M. continued on this earth, he and his wife reared three children. Each child grew into adulthood and married, adding descendants to the family tree. Then, they had children. And, in spite of serious weaknesses in his spinal column, J.M. served as an inspiration in the community. And, the limbs and branches in his family tree grew strong, and productive.


Eventually, J.M. died. His liver and kidneys could no longer handle those medications and some of their dangerous interactions. Different parts of his body gave way to the added impact of aging. His heart could no longer take the strain. And, his heart and brain stopped.


The family could have ordered for his life to be prolonged by seventy-two hours. But, what would have been the point?


J.M.’s horrendous fall from the collapsing scaffolding was one thing. What he had to cope with and live through for the ensuing years was too much. It was more than even his fantastic attitude and his family’s love and support could ensure.


* J.M. 1948 – 2014.


See: “Scaffolding Safety, and OSHA Standards §1926.451

And the guide to “Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry.”



Every painter is entitled to be supported by a well-built, properly assembled, and safe scaffolding system. No exceptions.



Copyright June 05, 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting It: “BARN RED” Barns: Surviving Great Depression, Wars and Hardships

My great-grandfather painted two and three story barns and built furniture to recover after the Great Depression, and World War II. He used “Barn Red” thick, smelly oil-based paint and large, cumbersome brushes.


He worked from heavy, hand-made wooden ladders, and self-made plank scaffolding. According to a family biography, it took over a week to paint one barn.


Starting after the Korean War, my other great-grandfather turned over the painting of his three massive barns to a group of young Amish – that “moved like lightning.” They used the “Barn Red” paint.


They worked from heavy wood planks hung by ropes and pulleys from the roof’s edge. Also, they worked from 12-foot wooden stepladders, placed on the flatbeds of hay wagons.


My grandfather repaired tires, tuned pianos, and tested soil for the State of Indiana to supplement the farm income during lean, low-yield years in the 1940s. Also, he painted large two and three story barns. Many had attached “worksheds.”


He used an upgraded “Barn Red” oil-based paint. He stood on three or four sectioned, wooden extension ladders. Sometimes, he rigged his own scaffolding: 12-foot stepladders, 18 to 24 foot extension ladders, wide wooden planks.


He operated a “weighted down spray gun, that clogged up and stuck half the time.” He said it had to be flushed out and cleaned every two hours. “If I was lucky,” he told me. “That’s why I invested in a second one.” Hundreds of feet of gray or red rubber hose trailed from the spray gun, down to the tank compressor/engine on the ground.


My grandfather said that it took him two days to spray out one large, three-story barn. It took an additional day to trim out the structure, using a three or four-inch brush. “That’s from dawn-to-dark…with fifteen minutes on the ground eating the lunch your grandma packed me…”


My father painted groupings of wood or steel barns and other outbuildings on large commercial farms. He applied top-quality “Barn red” or white semi-gloss epoxy – or a special metal paint.


He used one or more of over a dozen precision spray gun systems that he owned outright. He used two-inch to six-inch wide brushes, and four-inch to 12-inch rollers. He maneuvered around on industrial pipe scaffolding systems, or inside hydraulic lift bucket and spider systems.


Also, he used six-foot to 24-foot wood and aluminum ladder systems.
On the average, it took him two days to spray out two huge barns. Usually, it took two more days to paint the trim and frames, using brushes and rollers.


I helped my father paint a few huge steel buildings. Each of us used a state-of-the-art airless spray system, with an adjustable nozzle, to apply two coats of special metal coating.


Each spray system was powered by a variable speed compressor, that could be controlled from a custom button, built into the spray gun’s handle. (For more about airless spraying, read the January 2015 blog: “Painting It: The Advantages of Airless Spray Systems.”)


We used brushes, with 2 to 6-inch wide bristles, to cut-in corners and edges. Both brushes and rollers were used to paint trim, window and door frames, gutters, soffetts, etc. We worked from industrial steel scaffolding, erected by hand.


Florida does not have many big barns left. In 2012, however, barns owned by a fourth-generation ranch family, in northwest Florida, needed extensive repairs and repainting. A team of carpenters and masons repaired the structures, inside and out.


A crew of four, including the rancher’s two sons, sprayed out the barns with white high gloss, weather-resistant exterior paint. They worked from rented hydraulic snorkel lifts.


It took two days to spray out the three barns, each two stories in height, and over 500 feet in length. It took another two days to spray, brush and roll out the trim, frames, gutter systems, etcetera in the same custom forest green used throughout the large property, and in the ranch’s logo.


Today, the outside of a barn is reasonably easy to paint or finish. “Barn Red” and “Barn White” paints are still around. Also popular are heavy-duty coatings, in a spectrum of colors: rusts, greens, blues, tans; even eye-catchers such as yellow, orange, purple, pink. Special exterior wood stains and clear coats are used, too.


Barn painting/finishing products are formulated to spray on easily, with minimal hassle. They’re much safer and much more durable than ever.


Spray system equipment is well-made, very adjustable, easy to operate, and reasonably simple to clean and maintain. Scaffolding and hydraulic lift and scissor systems come in different sizes, appropriate to the size of the job – and the site. (Check out Kropp Equipment,


One thing remains the same: Barn painting is a specialty. It’s a unique craft in its own way. It’s suited to a special breed of exterior painters that carry a special respect and nostalgic fondness for those huge structures. All of them utilitarian in design, and purpose.


Built to serve, built to last!



Is a big, old “RED BARN” barn visible in your horizon, or rear view mirror, as you drive between cities and towns?  You might know someone that played there as a child.


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Have a restful week. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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