The Basics of Scaffold Safety (Part 2)

Guidelines for scaffolding

OSHA sets the following guidelines for scaffolding:

  1. Inspecting the scaffold – A competent person MUST inspect the scaffold before each shift and/or after any changes to the scaffold (“Changes” can be the result of weather, impact, damage, etc… Any time that the nature of the scaffold might have changed, an inspection is required).
  2. Scaffold Access – If the platform is over 2 feet off the ground (or whatever level you are erecting the scaffold) than a means of access (ladder, ramp, hoist) must be provided. The means of access cannot be more than 14″ away from the scaffold.
  3. Weather related issues – Ice and/or snow must be removed before workers are allowed to use the scaffold. Only the personnel that is working to remove the snow and/or ice is allowed on the scaffold until the snow and/or ice has been removed and the scaffold is safe to work on. Additionally, OSHA mandates that you workers are not allowed to work on scaffolding during storms or high winds unless the competent person says that it is safe to do so.
  4. Electrical Issues – Scaffolding is to be kept at least 10 feet away from overhead active power lines for power lines over 300 volts and 3 feet for power lines under 300 volts.

Erecting and checking the scaffolding

  1. Scaffold must be on a firm foundation
  2. Scaffold must be able to support at least 4 times the intended weight. For hanging scaffolds, the flexible supports must be designed to hold at least 6 times the intended weight.
  3. The scaffold must be level
  4. Vertical posts and frames must be vertical and they must be braced to prevent swaying.
  5. If a scaffold is more than 4 times as high as the base is wide, it must be tied to supports.
  6. Only unpainted wooden planks are to be used for the platform. This is so that visual inspection will detect any cracks.
  7. Ten foot planks must extend at least 6″ beyond the end of the support but no more than 12″
  8. The gap between planks on the platform can be no more than 1″