If you cut corners on your scaffolding, it turns out you're not alone; improper scaffolding was the most frequently cited violation of construction and remodeling standards by OSHA.

Between October 2003 and September 2004, 1,732 citations were issued for violations related to scaffolding, with penalties totaling $1,368,313. David Coble, president and co-founder of Cary, N.C.–based consulting firm CTJ Safety Associates, made a presentation about the “Top 25” violations at The Remodeling Show in Chicago in October, using data from 2002–2003.

Coble identified several common problems found in scaffolding, ranging from not having sufficient fall protection to not inspecting the scaffolding daily. According to Coble, who was an OSHA inspector for 12 years, OSHA inspectors are instructed to concentrate on three areas: scaffolding, trenching, and fall protection. “That's where fatalities are most likely to occur,” he said.

Fall protection is number two on the citation list. Third is ladder violations; various problems with electrical wiring are fourth; and “general safety and health provisions” rounds out the current top five.

To access the data yourself, log on to osha.gov, and click on “Inspection Data” under “Statistics” along the right-hand side. Use SIC code 15 for construction when searching under “frequently cited OSHA standards.”