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Posted on: October 10, 2011 By: Megan Knoll, Dir of Marketing


The OSHA definition of a scaffold means any temporary elevated platform (supported or suspended) and its supporting structure (including points of anchorage), used for supporting employees or material or both. The five most serious scaffold hazards include falls, unsafe access, struck by falling objects, electrocutions and scaffold collapse. Employees should take the necessary precaution to ensure that the scaffold has been inspected by a competent person prior to each shift and continually monitor the scaffold throughout the workday.

A Competent Person must:

  • Inspect scaffolding and components prior to each work shift or after an incident has occurred.
  • Oversee the assembly, modification and dismantle of scaffolding. Employees must never alter a scaffold.

Platform Construction

  • Must be fully planked and decked
    • No more than a 1” gap between adjacent units and platform and uprights.
    • Max openings between platform and uprights 9 ½”.
    • Platform and walkways must be at least 18” wide.
  • Each abutted end shall rest on a separate support surface.
  • Overlap platforms not be less than 12” only over supports unless restrained to prevent movement.
  • Front edge of the platform cannot be more than 14” from face of work or guardrails are required.
  • Paint on work platforms is not allowed except on edges that may be marked for identification.
  • Must be fully planked between from upright and guardrails.

Supported Scaffolds

  • Must be restrained from tipping by guys, ties or equivalent when higher than 4 to 1 ratio.
  • Supports must be installed per recommendations or at closest horizontal member to the 4:1 height.
  • Never use scaffolds that do not have proper guardrails installed.
  • Must be supported by an adequate foundation.
  • Unstable objects will not be sued as working platforms.
  • Must be plumbed and braced.

Safe Access

  • Scaffold must have safe access. Cross-braces are prohibited as means of access.
  • Bottom rung of ladder must not be more than 24” high.
  • Rest platforms are required at 35’ intervals.
  • Slip-resistant treads are required on all steps and landing.


  • Never overload scaffolding in excess of their maximum intended loads or rated capacities.
  • Maintain a 10 feet minimum distance away from power lines.
  • Do not use barrels, boxes or ladders on top of scaffolds.
  • Do not work on snow or ice covered scaffolds.

Fall Protection

  • Guardrails
    • Top rails – 42” high plus or minus 3” and capable of withstanding 200 lbs of force.
    • Mid rails – Half the distance between the platform and top rail and capable of withstanding 150 lbs of force.
  • Personal fall arrest systems must be used in guardrails are not in place or not complete.

Falling Object Protection

  • Hard hats are required while working from scaffolding.
  • Employees working below must be protected from falling objects by toe boards, canopies or barricades.

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