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Scaffolding, General Requirements, Construction – Regulation 29 CFR 1926.451

Enforcement from Oct 2021-Sept 2022

Total citations: 2,217

Total inspections: 1,092

Total proposed penalties: $6,736,600

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 5

Industries most often violating the scaffolding in construction standard:

  • Construction: 2,134 citations, 1,046 violations, $6,460,640 in proposed penalties
  • Manufacturing: 34, 18, $83,604
  • Wholesale Trade: 20, 8, $58,274
  • Retail Trade: 14, 7, $59,793
  • Real Estate and Rental and Leasing: 5, 4, $33,130
  • Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services: 5, 4, $30,392
  • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: 2, 2, $4,296
  • Health Care and Social Assistance: 1, 1, $4,972
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting: 1, 1, $1,500
  • Transportation and Warehousing: 1, 1, $0


In a Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) study, 72% of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way; or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. All of these can be controlled by compliance with OSHA standards.

A Scaffolding Fatality Story

Christopher Smith, a 43-year-old construction worker, died in a fall from scaffolding at a Palo Alto building site, on August 24, 2022. The incident occurred while Smith was performing overnight construction work, according to a press release issued by the Palo Alto police. A Cal/OSHA spokesperson said that Smith, of Antioch, fell off a scaffold in a shaft inside the 15-story Palo Alto Office Center, where interior construction was underway. Smith was employed by a Medford, Oregon-based contractor, F.D. Thomas Inc., a coating and specialty contractor.

Suspension Scaffolds Safety Guidelines

The following precautions should be taken to prevent serious injuries and fatal falls while working from suspension scaffolds:

  • Comply with current and proposed OSHA regulations for working with scaffolds. Proposed regulations include requirements for all scaffolds regarding capacity, construction, access, use, and fall protection.
  • Assure that design and construction of scaffolds conform with OSHA regulations.
  • Shield scaffold suspension ropes and body belt or harness system droplines (lifelines) from hot or corrosive processes and protect them from sharp edges or abrasion.
  • Inspect all scaffolds, scaffold components and personal fall protection equipment before each use.
  • Provide personal fall protection equipment and make sure that it is used by all workers on suspension scaffolds. When working from a scaffold, always use fall protection (both guardrail systems and body belt or harness systems).
  • Use structurally sound portions of buildings or other structures to anchor droplines for body belt or harness systems and tiebacks for suspension scaffold support devices.
  • Secure droplines and tiebacks to separate anchor points on structural members.
  • Provide proper training for all workers who use any type of suspension scaffold or fall protection equipment. If you work from a scaffold, participate in any training programs offered by your employer.
  • Follow scaffold manufacturers’ guidance regarding the assembly, rigging and use of scaffolds.

An eTool for Suspension Scaffolds Requirements

Two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds, also known as swing-stage scaffolds, are perhaps the most common type of suspended scaffold. Hung by ropes or cables connected to stirrups at each end of the platform, they are typically used by window washers on skyscrapers, but play a prominent role in high-rise construction as well. The agency offers an eTool1 with modules covering the elements of suspended scaffolds safety, including:

  • Anchorage (tiebacks, counterweights, direct connections)
  • Support (capacity, components, outrigger beams, suspension ropes, hoists)
  • Access (general, direct access)
  • Fall Protection (general, fall-arrest systems, guardrail systems, erectors and dismantlers, competent persons
  • Platform (decking, working distance, overlap, brackets, capacity, falling object protection,
  • Stability (tying, loading, inspection, moving scaffolds, weather)
  • Electrical Hazards (overhead power lines, welding, portable electric tools)
  • Personnel Training and Competent Persons (design and erection, training)

An eTool for Supported Scaffolds Requirements

Supported scaffolds consist of one or more platforms supported by outrigger beams, brackets, poles, legs, uprights, posts, frames or similar rigid support. Frame scaffolds are the most common type of supported scaffold. OSHA provides an eTool2 that uses the frame module to describe requirements that are common to all supported scaffolds. Supported scaffolds include:

  • Frame Scaffold or Fabricated Frame: Platform(s) supported on fabricated end frames with integral posts, horizontal bearers, and intermediate members.
  • Ladder Jack: A ladder jack scaffold is a simple device consisting of a platform resting on brackets attached to a ladder. Ladder jacks are primarily used on lighter loads because of their portability and cost-effectiveness.
  • Mast Climbers: Mast climbing supported scaffolds (Mast Climbers) carry much heavier loads than traditional scaffolding and serve to position personnel, along with necessary tools, equipment, and materials to perform work at great heights.
  • Mobile (Manually or Propelled): Unpowered, portable, caster- or wheel-mounted supported scaffold.
  • Pole or Wood Pole: Posts with fixed connection points that accept runners, bearers, and diagonals, also made of wood, that can be interconnected at predetermined levels.
  • Pump Jack: Platform supported by vertical poles and movable support brackets.
  • Specialty: Scaffold types designed for a narrow and very specific range of applications.
  • Tube and Coupler: Platform(s) supported by tubing, erected with coupling devices connecting uprights, braces, bearers and runners WMHS




View Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry at:

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