OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926.451: Scaffolds
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported 52 fatal falls to lower levels from scaffolding in 2020. While some of these are attributable to unsafe work practices, scaffolding that is poorly made or lacking in proper guardrails or protection can be treacherous for workers who use it. This standard specifies requirements for safe scaffolding.
Major Provisions of the Standard
- With exceptions, each scaffold and scaffold component shall be capable of supporting, without failure, its own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it.
- Direct connections to roofs and floors, and counterweights used to balance adjustable suspension scaffolds, shall be capable of resisting at least four times the tipping moment imposed by the scaffold operating at the rated load of the hoist, or 1.5 (minimum) times the tipping moment imposed by the scaffold operating at the stall load of the hoist, whichever is greater.
- Each suspension rope, including connecting hardware, used on non-adjustable suspension scaffolds shall be capable of supporting, without failure, at least six times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to that rope.
- Each suspension rope, including connecting hardware, used on adjustable suspension scaffolds shall be capable of supporting, without failure, at least six times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to that rope with the scaffold operating at either the rated load of the hoist, or two (minimum) times the stall load of the hoist, whichever is greater.
- The stall load of any scaffold hoist shall not exceed three times its rated load.
- Scaffolds shall be designed by a qualified person and shall be constructed and loaded in accordance with that design. Non-mandatory Appendix A to this subpart contains examples of criteria that will enable an employer to comply with paragraph (a) of this section.
- Each platform on all working levels of scaffolds shall be fully planked or decked between the front uprights and the guardrail supports as follows:
- Each platform unit (e.g., scaffold plank, fabricated plank, fabricated deck or fabricated platform) shall be installed so that the space between adjacent units and the space between the platform and the uprights is no more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, except where the employer can demonstrate that a wider space is necessary (for example, to fit around uprights when side brackets are used to extend the width of the platform).
- Where the employer makes the demonstration provided for in paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section, the platform shall be planked or decked as fully as possible and the remaining open space between the platform and the uprights shall not exceed 9 1/2 inches (24.1 cm).
- Exception to paragraph (b)(1): The requirement in paragraph (b)(1) to provide full planking or decking does not apply to platforms used solely as walkways or solely by employees performing scaffold erection or dismantling. In these situations, only the planking that the employer establishes is necessary to provide safe working conditions is required.
- With exceptions, each scaffold platform and walkway shall be at least 18 inches (46 cm) wide.
- Each ladder jack scaffold, top plate bracket scaffold, roof bracket scaffold and pump jack scaffold shall be at least 12 inches (30 cm) wide. There is no minimum width requirement for boatswains’ chairs.
- Where scaffolds must be used in areas that the employer can demonstrate are so narrow that platforms and walkways cannot be at least 18 inches (46 cm) wide, such platforms and walkways shall be as wide as feasible, and employees on those platforms and walkways shall be protected from fall hazards by the use of guardrails and/or personal fall arrest systems.
- The front edge of all platforms shall not be more than 14 inches (36 cm) from the face of the work, unless guardrail systems are erected along the front edge and/or personal fall arrest systems are used in accordance with paragraph (g) of this section to protect employees from falling.
- The maximum distance from the face for outrigger scaffolds shall be 3 inches (8 cm);
- The maximum distance from the face for plastering and lathing operations shall be 18 inches (46 cm).
- Each end of a platform, unless cleated or otherwise restrained by hooks or equivalent means, shall extend over the centerline of its support at least 6 inches (15 cm).
- Each end of a platform 10 feet or less in length shall not extend over its support more than 12 inches (30 cm) unless the platform is designed and installed so that the cantilevered portion of the platform is able to support employees and/or materials without tipping or has guardrails which block employee access to the cantilevered end.
- Each platform greater than 10 feet in length shall not extend over its support more than 18 inches (46 cm), unless it is designed and installed so that the cantilevered portion of the platform is able to support employees without tipping or has guardrails which block employee access to the cantilevered end.
- On scaffolds where scaffold planks are abutted to create a long platform, each abutted end shall rest on a separate support surface. This provision does not preclude the use of common support members, such as “T” sections, to support abutting planks, or hook-on platforms designed to rest on common supports.
- On scaffolds where platforms are overlapped to create a long platform, the overlap shall occur only over supports, and shall not be less than 12 inches (30 cm) unless the platforms are nailed together or otherwise restrained to prevent movement.
OSHA’s Scaffolding eTool identifies common hazards associated with scaffolds and discusses requirements for designing and constructing scaffolds. You can find it here: www.osha.gov/etools/scaffolding WMHS
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