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Many residential and commercial construction projects require the use of some form of scaffolding. Unsafe scaffolding procedures can cause accidents, serious injuries and even death. Accidents involving scaffolding mainly involve workers falling, incorrect operating procedures, environmental conditions, and falling materials.
As with many considerations on construction projects, safety is very important in scaffolding design and use. There are a number of legal requirements, legislations, and regulations that must be met by a construction company. According to OSHA, it is mandatory for employers to “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees“. Developing a Safe Scaffold Program (SSP) is an effective way to make sure the company meets these requirements.
An important support organization for those involved with the use of scaffolds is the Scaffold & Access Industry Association. In 2013, OSHA renewed an Alliance agreement with SAIA to mutually share information on OSH laws and standards, and to continue educational opportunities to forge solutions to OSH issues.
This course will discuss the elements of an effective Scaffold Safety Program (SSP) with emphasis on pre-planning the erection, use and dismantling processes.
Note: Special thanks goes out to the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL), Occupational Safety and Health Division, for providing the primary source document for this course, A Guide to Safe Scaffolding. NCDOL provides many other valuable publications for safety professionals, and we recommend visiting their website.
To begin your training, click on the module links below. If you are just starting this course, you should start with module 1.
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Course 803 Study Guide. You can save this study guide to your computer for offline studying, or print the study guide if you prefer.
Adjustable suspension scaffold: A suspension scaffold with a hoist (or hoists) operated by workers on the scaffold.
Aerial Device: Any vehicle mounted, telescoping or articulating, or both, used to position personnel (workers).
Aerial Ladder: An aerial device consisting of a single or multiple-section extensible ladder.
Articulating Boom Platform: An aerial device with two or more hinged boom sections.
Anchorage: A secure point of attachment for lifelines, lanyard, deceleration devices or tiebacks.
Base Plate: A device used to distribute vertical load.
Bearer: A horizontal transverse scaffold member (which may be supported by ledgers or runners) upon which the scaffold platform rests and joins scaffold uprights, posts, poles and similar members.
Boatswains’ Chair: A suspended seat designed to accommodate one worker in a sitting position.
Body Harness, Full: Straps that are secured about an employee in a manner that distributes the arresting forces over at least the thighs, shoulders and pelvis with provisions for attaching a lanyard, lifeline or deceleration device.
Brace: A tie that holds one scaffold member in a fixed position with respect to another member. Brace also means a rigid type of connection holding a scaffold to a building or structure.
Bricklayer’s square scaffold: A supported scaffold made of framed squares that supports a platform.
Carpenter’s bracket scaffold: A supported scaffold consisting of a platform supported by brackets attached to a building or structural walls.
Catenary scaffold: A suspension scaffold consisting of a platform supported by two horizontal and parallel ropes attached to structural members of a building or other structure.
Chimney hoist: A multipoint adjustable suspension scaffold that provides access for working inside chimneys. See “Multipoint adjustable suspension scaffold.”
Cleat: A structural member used at the ends of platform units to prevent the units from slipping off their supports. Cleats are also used to provide footing on sloped surfaces such as crawling boards.
Come-along: A hand operated ratchet lever winch used to wind a rope or cable, while a ratchet is a mechanical brake that keeps the line from unwinding.
Competent Person: One who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to employees, and who has the authority to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate such hazards.
Continuous-run scaffold (run scaffold): A two-point or multipoint adjustable suspension scaffold made from braced scaffold members or supporting structures that form a continuous scaffold.
Coupler: A device for locking together the component tubes of a tube and coupler scaffold.
Crawling board (chicken ladder): A supported scaffold consisting of a plank with cleats spaced and secured to provide footing.
Crossbraces: Two diagonal scaffold members joined at their center to form an “X.” Used between frames or uprights or both.
Deceleration device: Any mechanism that dissipates energy during a fall arrest or limits the energy imposed on a worker during fall arrest.
Design Load: The maximum intended load; that is, the total of all loads including the worker(s), material and the equipment placed on the unit.
Double-pole (independent pole) scaffold: A supported scaffold consisting of a platform resting on bearers supported by ledgers and a double row of uprights not supported (except with ties, guys, braces) by any other structure.
Electrical Ground: A conducting connection between an electrical circuit or equipment and the area, or some conducting body that serves in place of the earth.
Equivalent: An alternative design, material or method that the employer can demonstrate will provide an equal or greater degree of safety for employees than the method or item specified in the standard.
Extensible Boom Platform: An aerial device (except ladders) with a telescopic or extensible boom. Telescopic derricks with personnel platform attachments are considered to be extensible boom platforms when used with a personnel platform.
Eye or eye splice: A loop with or without a thimble at the end of a wire rope.
Fabricated decking and planking: Manufactured platforms made of wood (including laminated wood and sawn-wood planks), metal, or other materials.
Fabricated-frame scaffold (welded tubular-frame scaffold): A scaffold consisting of a platform supported on fabricated end- frames with integral posts, horizontal bearers, and intermediate members.
Failure: Breakage or separation of component parts.
Fall Protection: A system designed to prevent or arrest a person’s fall.
Float (ship) scaffold: A suspension scaffold consisting of a braced platform resting on two parallel bearers and hung from overhead supports by fixed-length ropes.
Form scaffold: A supported scaffold consisting of a platform sup- ported by brackets attached to formwork.
Guardrail System: A rail system erected along the open sides and ends of platforms. The rail system consists of a toprail and midrail and their supports.
Guy: A rope, chain or cable used to stabilize a vertical object.
Harness: A design of straps that is secured about the employee in a manner to distribute the arresting forces over at least the thighs, shoulders and pelvis, with provisions for attaching a lanyard, lifeline or deceleration device.
Hoist: A mechanical device to raise or lower a suspended scaffold. It can be mechanically powered or manually operated.
Horse scaffold: A supported scaffold consisting of a platform sup- ported by construction horses (sawhorses). Horse scaffolds made of metal are also called trestle scaffolds.
Independent-pole scaffold: See “double-pole scaffold.”
Insulated Aerial Device: An aerial device designed for work on energized lines and apparatus.
Interior hung scaffold: A suspension scaffold consisting of a plat- form suspended from a ceiling or roof structure by fixed-length supports.
Joint: The location where vertical members of a scaffold are combined.
Ladder jack scaffold: A supported scaffold consisting of a platform resting on brackets attached to ladders.
Ladder Stand: A mobile, fixed-size, self-supporting ladder that appears as a wide flat tread ladder in the form of stairs.
Landing: A platform at the end of a flight of stairs.
Large area scaffold: A pole scaffold, tube-and-coupler scaffold, systems scaffold, or fabricated frame scaffold erected over an entire work area.
Lanyard: A flexible line to secure the wearer of a full body harness to a lifeline, trolley line or a fixed anchor.
Lean-to scaffold: A supported scaffold that is kept erect by tilting toward and resting against a building or structure.
Ledger: A horizontal scaffold member upon which bearers rest. It is the longitudinal member that joins scaffold uprights, posts, poles and similar members.
Lifeline: A flexible line that connects to an anchorage at one end and hangs vertically (vertical lifeline) or that connects to anchor- ages at both ends and stretches horizontally (horizontal lifeline); it connects other components of a personal fall-arrest system to the anchorage.
Lower levels: Areas below the working level. Examples: ground levels, floors, roofs, ramps, runways, excavations, pits, tanks, materials, water, and equipment.
Mason’s adjustable supported scaffold: See “Self-contained adjustable scaffold.”
Mason’s multipoint adjustable suspension scaffold: A continuous- run suspension scaffold designed and used for masonry work.
Maximum Intended Load: The total load of all employees, equipment, tools, materials, transmitted loads, wind loads, and other loads reasonably anticipated to be applied to a scaffold or scaffold component at any one time.
Mechanically Powered Hoist: A hoist that is powered by other than human energy.
Midrail: A rail approximately midway between the toprail and platform of a guardrail system.
Mobile scaffold: A portable caster or wheel-mounted supported scaffold.
Multilevel suspended scaffold: A two-point or multipoint adjust- able suspension scaffold with platforms at various levels that rest on common stirrups.
Multipoint adjustable suspension scaffold: A suspension scaffold consisting of a platform suspended by more than two ropes from overhead supports that can be raised and lowered to desired work levels. Includes chimney hoists.
Needle-beam scaffold: A platform suspended from needle beams.
Open Sides and Ends: The edges of a platform that are more than 14 inches away from a sturdy, continuous, vertical surface (such as a building wall) or a sturdy, continuous, horizontal surface (such as a floor), or a point of access. Exception: For plastering and lathing operations, the horizontal distance is 18 inches.
Outrigger: The structural member of a supported scaffold used to increase the base width of a scaffold in order to provide greater stability for the scaffold.
Outrigger Beam (thrustout): The structural member of a suspension scaffold or outrigger scaffold that provides support for the scaffold by extending the scaffold point of attachment to a point out and away from the structure or building.
Outrigger scaffold: A supported scaffold consisting of a platform resting on outrigger beams projecting beyond the wall or face of a structure; the inboard ends are secured inside the structure.
Overhand bricklaying: Laying bricks and masonry units so that the surface of the wall to be jointed requires the mason to lean over the wall to complete the work.
Periodic: For scaffolds, “periodic means frequently enough so that, in light of these factors and the amount of time expected for their detrimental effects to occur, there is a good likelihood that problems will be found before they pose a hazard to employees.
Personal Fall Arrest System: A system used to arrest an employee in a fall from a working level. It consists of an anchorage, connectors, a body belt or body harness and may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline or suitable combinations of these. The use of a body belt for fall arrest is prohibited.
Plank: A wood board and fabricated component that serves as a platform unit.
Plank (Metal): A metal platform united sized to support one or more workers or uniformly distributed loads. Metal planks would be similar dimensions as wood planks.
Plank (Wood, Laminated): A platform unit of glue-laminated wood whose method of manufacture and assigned design values contemplate flat use in a scaffolding application.
Plank (Wood, Sawn): A board of sawn lumber whose grading rules and assigned design values contemplate flat use in a scaffolding application.
Platform: The horizontal working surface of a scaffold.
Platform: Any personnel-carrying device (basket or bucket) that is a component of an aerial device.
Platform Unit: The individual wood planks, fabricated planks, fabricated decks and fabricated platforms that compose the platforms and walkways of a scaffold.
Pole scaffold: See “Single-pole scaffold” and “Double (independent) pole scaffold.”
Positioning Device System: A body belt or body harness system rigged to allow an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall, and work with both hands free while leaning.
Power-operated hoist: A hoist powered by other than human energy.
Pump jack scaffold: A supported scaffold consisting of a platform supported by vertical poles and movable support brackets.
Qualified Person: One who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training or experience has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve problems related to the subject matter, the work or the project.
Rated Load: The manufacturer’s recommended maximum load.
Repair bracket scaffold: A supported scaffold consisting of a platform supported by brackets secured around the circumference or perimeter of a chimney, stack, tank, or other supporting structure.
Roof-bracket scaffold: A rooftop-supported scaffold consisting of a platform resting on angular-shaped supports.
Runner (ledger or ribbon): The lengthwise horizontal bracing or bearing member that supports bearers on tube and coupler scaffolds.
Safety Screen: A wire or plastic screening that protects the workers and passers-by below from dropped items.
Scaffold: Any temporary elevated or suspended platform and its supporting structure used for supporting employees or materials or both, except this term does not include crane or derrick suspended personnel platforms.
Scissor Lift: A self-propelled or manually propelled lifting personnel platform (within wheel base) capable of vertical movement with onboard controls as defined by ANSI/SIA A92.6-1990.
Self-contained adjustable scaffold: A combination supported and suspension scaffold consisting of an adjustable platform mounted on an independent supporting frame not a part of the object worked on. Examples: rolling roof rigs, rolling outrigger systems, and some mason’s adjustable supported scaffolds.
Shore scaffold: A supported scaffold placed against a structure and held in place with props.
Sill: A footing (usually wood) which distributes the vertical loads to the ground or slab below.
Shore scaffold: A supported scaffold placed against a structure and held in place with props.
Single-point adjustable suspension scaffold: A suspension scaffold consisting of a platform suspended by one rope from an overhead support and equipped to move the platform to desired work levels.
Single-pole scaffold: A supported scaffold consisting of a platform resting on bearers. The outside ends are supported on runners secured to a single row of posts or uprights and the inner ends are supported by a structure.
Stair tower (scaffold stairway/tower): A tower that contains internal stairways and rest platforms. Used to provide access to scaffold platforms and other elevated points such as floors and roofs.
Stall load: The load at which a power-operated hoist stalls or the power is automatically disconnected.
Step, platform, and trestle ladder scaffold: A platform resting directly on the rungs of stepladders or trestle ladders.
Stilts: A pair of poles or supports with raised footrests, used to walk above the ground or working surface.
Stonesetter’s multipoint adjustable suspension scaffold: A continuous-run suspension scaffold designed and used for stonesetter’s work.
Supported scaffold: One or more platforms supported by outrigger beams, brackets, poles, legs, uprights, posts, frames, or similar rigid support.
Suspension scaffold: One or more platforms suspended by ropes or other nonrigid means from an overhead structure(s).
System scaffold: A scaffold consisting of posts with fixed connection points that accept runners, bearers, and diagonals interconnected at predetermined levels.
Tank builder’s scaffold: A supported scaffold consisting of a platform resting on brackets directly attached to a cylindrical tank or attached to devices that are attached to a tank.
Tie: A device used between scaffold component and the building or structure to enhance lateral stability.
Toeboard: A barrier secured along the sides and the ends of a platform unit to guard against the falling of material, tools and other loose objects.
Top-plate bracket scaffold: A scaffold supported by brackets that hook over or are attached to the top of a wall. Similar to carpenter’s bracket scaffolds and form scaffolds and used in residential construction for setting trusses.
Toprail: The uppermost horizontal rail of a guardrail system.
Tube-and-coupler scaffold: A supported or suspended scaffold consisting of a platform or platforms supported by tubing, erected with coupling devices connecting uprights, braces, bearers, and runners.
Tubular welded-frame scaffold: See “Fabricated frame scaffold.”
Two-point suspension scaffold (swing stage): A suspension scaffold consisting of a platform supported by hangers (stirrups) suspended by two ropes from overhead supports and equipped to raise and lower the platform to desired work levels.
Unstable objects: Objects that could become dislocated, shift, and not support the loads imposed on them. Unstable objects do not constitute a safe base support for scaffolds, platforms, or workers. Examples: barrels, boxes, loose brick, and concrete blocks.
Uplift: Uplift is the separation of a scaffold frame from the frame below it.
Vertical Pickup: A rope used to support the horizontal rope in catenary scaffolds.
Walkway: A portion of a scaffold platform used only for access and is not a work level.
Window jack scaffold: A platform resting on a bracket or jack that projects through a window opening.
Work Level: An elevated platform used for supporting employees and their materials where work activities are performed.
Working Load: Load imposed by persons, materials and equipment.
1. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2014). CFR 1926, Subpart L, Scaffolds. Department of Labor (DOL), Retrieved from: www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=10916https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=10916%20
2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2014a). A Guide to Scaffold Use in the Construction Industry. Retrieved from: www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3150.pdf
3. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2014b). Scaffolding. Retrieved from: www.osha.gov/SLTC/scaffolding/construction.html