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Scaffolding, General Requirements, Construction – Regulation 29 CFR 1926.451

Ranking: 4

A Workplace Story

From a Wisconsin FACE report:

A 59-year-old male plaster laborer in Wisconsin died after falling from a scaffold and striking his head on asphalt pavement. The victim and a co-worker had erected the welded tubular scaffolding on the outside wall of a single-story building and planned to bring the railings and access ladder to the worksite the next day. Near the end of the workday, the victim returned extra tools and equipment to the supply truck, removed his safety helmet and returned to the scaffold area. The co-worker was positioned on the top of the unguarded scaffold and heard a clanging sound on the bracing. He turned to see the victim lying on the ground. The victim was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died 6 hours later of head injuries.

The FACE investigator concluded that, to prevent similar occurrences, employers should ensure that safe access is provided to the work platforms of all scaffolds and that adequate fall protection is used by workers on scaffolds. The company’s safety program included a written general safety policy, periodic worksite visits and weekly toolbox safety meetings. Task-specific safety procedures, including working on scaffolds, were unwritten but were communicated verbally to employees. Records had been maintained of employee participation at the safety meetings for over two years, and there was no record that the victim had attended any safety talks related to fall prevention or scaffold safety during that time.

The victim had been employed by the company for 14 years and had worked on scaffolds frequently. The company provided on-the job training to employees, including training on appropriate use of personal protective equipment. This was the company’s first fatality.

The Numbers

Enforcement from October 2019 through September 2020

Total citations: 1,939

Total inspections: 948

Total proposed penalties: $5,755,397

Industries most often violating the scaffolding in construction standard:

Construction: $5,564,215

Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services: $23,337

Accommodation and Food Services: $66,044

Manufacturing (part 3 of 3): $16,834

Public Administration: $0

Manufacturing (part 2 of 3): $12,145

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: $7,602

Real Estate and Rental and Leasing: $6,091

Transportation and Warehousing (2 of 2): $26,988

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: $3,239


Workers using scaffolds may be injured due to:

  • Tip-overs
  • Electric shocks
  • Structural failures (collapse)
  • Falls

Only trained and authorized persons should be allowed to use a scaffold. Training requirements:

  • All training must be conducted in a manner and language which the worker is able to understand.
  • Training must be provided by a qualified person who recognizes the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used and who understands the procedures to control or minimize those hazards. Training must include how to safely:
    • Use the scaffold and determine the maximum load limits when handling materials.
    • Recognize and avoid scaffolding hazards such as electric shock, falls from heights and being hit by falling objects.
    • Erect, inspect, move, operate, maintain and repair scaffolds.


Employers must ensure the following:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s allowable load for the casters, scaffold components and platforms, along with recommended bracing to ensure a rigid and structurally sound scaffold.
  • Assess the work area, site conditions and work to be performed.
  • Conduct a pre-operation inspection to verify that all scaffold components are functioning properly and/or are correctly assembled.
  • Keep the platform free from tripping hazards such as hand tools, equipment or materials.
  • Lock scaffold wheels with positive wheel and/or wheel and swivel locks to prevent movement while in use.
  • Use guardrails which include top rails, midrails and toe boards, or fall protection at working platform heights of 10 feet or higher.
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from energized power lines.
  • If outriggers are installed, deploy installed outriggers on both sides of the scaffold. All locking pins must be engaged before using the scaffold.

Employers must ensure that workers have been effectively trained in the following:

  • Not to stand on the guardrail or use any components of the scaffold or other items (e.g., stepladders, buckets, boxes, barrels, etc.) inside the scaffold to gain additional standing height.
  • Not to try to pull yourself from one location to another while standing on the platform.
  • Not to use a scaffold if it is incomplete, broken or has missing or ill-fitting parts which need replacement. Contact your employer immediately.
  • Not to move the scaffold with worker(s) on the scaffold when:
    • The worker(s) on the scaffold is unaware of the move and/or the surface under the scaffold is not within 3 degrees of level and free of pits, holes or obstructions.
    • The worker is on any part of the scaffold which extends outward beyond the wheels, casters, or other supports.
    • Manual force is not being applied as close to the base as practicable. Manual force must be applied not more than 5 feet above the supporting surface (1926.452(w)(3)).
    • The height to base width ratio of the scaffold during movement is greater than 2 to 1, unless the scaffold is designed and constructed to meet or exceed nationally recognized stability test requirements (such as ANSI/SIA A92.5 and A92.6) (1926.452(w)(6)(ii)).

Employers must retrain employees when inadequacies are observed, changes in worksite conditions occur or when it is believed that an employee lacks the skill or understanding needed for safe work involving the erection, use or dismantling of the scaffold. WMHS

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