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Suspension Scaffolds and Lifts

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Suspended Scaffolds

A suspension scaffold contains one or more platforms suspended by ropes or other non-rigid means from an overhead structure, such as the following scaffolds: single-point, multipoint, multi-level, two-point, adjustable, boatswains' chair, catenary, chimney hoist, continuous run, elevator false car, go-devils, interior hung, masons', and stone setters'. We will discuss 8 of the general types of suspension scaffolds, lifts, and hoists. 1926.450(b)

Single-Point Adjustable

A single-point adjustable scaffold consists of a platform suspended by one rope from an overhead support and equipped with means to permit the movement of the platform to desired work levels. The most common among these is the scaffold used by window washers to clean the outside of a skyscraper (also known as a boatswain's chair). More information on this scaffold.

Two-Point Swing Stage

The two-point adjustable suspension scaffold, also known as a swing-stage scaffold, is perhaps the most common type of suspended scaffold. Hung by ropes or cables connected to stirrups at each end of the platform, it is typically used by window washers on skyscrapers, but plays a prominent role in high-rise construction as well. More information on this scaffold.

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Suspended scaffoldsk
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1. What is the most common type of suspension scaffold used?

a. Single-point swing stage
b. Two-point swing stage
c. Multi-point
d. Multi-level adjustable

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Suspended Scaffolds (Continued)

Multi-Level

A multi-level scaffold is a two-point or multi-point adjustable suspension scaffold with a series of platforms at various levels resting on common stirrups. More information on this scaffold.

Multi-point Adjustable

A multi-point adjustable scaffold consists of a platform (or platforms) suspended by more than two ropes from overhead supports and equipped with means to raise and lower the platform(s) to desired work levels. These scaffolds have many uses in tanks, silos, stacks, and chimneys. More information on this scaffold.

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2. Which of the following scaffolds consists of a platform (or platforms) suspended by more than two ropes from overhead supports?

a. A multi-level supported scaffold
b. A multi-point adjustable scaffold
c. A multi-tie adjustable scaffold
d. A multiple lift adjustable scaffold

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Suspended Scaffolds (Continued)

Float (Ship)

A float, or ship, scaffold is a suspension scaffold consisting of a braced platform resting on at least two parallel bearers extending at least 6 inches beyond the platform on both sides. The platform is hung from overhead supports by ropes of fixed length. The More information on this scaffold.

Needle Beam

This simple type of scaffold consists of a platform suspended from needle beams, usually attached on one end to a permanent structural member. More information on this scaffold.

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3. Which type of scaffold consists of a braced platform resting on two parallel bearers and hung from overhead supports by ropes of fixed length?

a. A float, or ship, scaffold
b. A needle beam scaffold
c. A bosun's chair
d. A single-point painter's scaffold

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Suspended Scaffolds (Continued)

Catenary

A catenary scaffold is a scaffold consisting of a platform supported by two essentially horizontal and parallel ropes attached to structural members of a building or other structure. Catenary scaffolds have a maximum intended load of 500 pounds, and no more than two employees at a time are permitted on the scaffold. [29 CFR 1926 Subpart L Appendix A (r)(2)] More information on this scaffold.

Interior Hung

An interior hung suspension scaffold consists of a platform suspended from the ceiling or roof structure by fixed-length supports. The roof structures must be inspected for strength before the scaffold is erected. More information on this scaffold.

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4. What must be accomplished before erecting an interior hung suspension scaffold?

a. Inspect the roof structure
b. Ensure columns are plumb
c. Test the ropes to 3X expected load
d. Make sure the ropes are parallel

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Lifts

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Scissor Lifts

Scissor lifts are mobile supported scaffold work platforms used to safely move workers vertically and to different locations in a variety of industries including construction, retail, entertainment and manufacturing. Scissor lifts are different from aerial lifts because the lifting mechanism moves the work platform straight up and down using crossed beams functioning in a scissor-like fashion. They do not articulate the work platform from side-to-side. Although scissor lifts present hazards similar to scaffolding when extended and stationary, using scissor lifts safely depends on considering equipment capabilities, limitations and safe practices. See more information on scissor lifts.

Aerial Lifts

An aerial lift is any vehicle-mounted device used to elevate personnel. Aerial lifts have replaced ladders and scaffolding on many job sites due to their mobility and flexibility. They may be made of metal, fiberglass reinforced plastic, or other materials. They may be powered or manually operated, and are considered to be aerial lifts whether or not they can rotate around a primarily vertical axis. See more information on aerial lifts. Types include:

  • Extendable boom platforms,
  • Aerial ladders,
  • Articulating (jointed) boom platforms, and
  • Vertical towers.
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5. How do scissor lifts differ from aerial lifts?

a. They are a mechanized
b. They use criss-crossing supports
c. They lift workers vertically
d. They can move horizontally

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Criteria for Suspended Scaffolds

General OSHA standard 1910.450 requirements for all types of suspension scaffolds include:

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  • Employers must ensure that all employees are trained to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used. 1926.451(d)(1)
  • All support devices must rest on surfaces capable of supporting at least four times the load imposed on them by the scaffold when operating at the rated load of the hoist, or at least one-and-a-half times the load imposed on them by the scaffold at the stall capacity of the hoist, whichever is greater. 1926.451(d)(1)
  • A competent person must evaluate all direct connections prior to use to confirm that the supporting surfaces are able to support the imposed load, 1926.451(d)(1)
  • All suspension scaffolds must be tied or otherwise secured to prevent them from swaying, as determined by a competent person. 1926.451(d)
  • Guardrails, a personal fall arrest system, or both must protect each employee more than 10 feet (3.1 meters) above a lower level from falling. 1926.451(g)
  • A competent person must inspect ropes for defects prior to each workshift and after every occurrence that could affect a rope's integrity. 1926.451(d)(10)
  • When scaffold platforms are more than 24 inches (61 centimeters) above or below a point of access, ladders, ramps, walkways, or similar surfaces must be used. 1926.451(e)(1)
  • When using direct access, the surface must not be more than 24 inches (61 centimeters) above or 14 inches (36 cm) horizontally from the surface. 1926.451(e)(8)
  • When lanyards are connected to horizontal lifelines or structural members on single-point or two-point adjustable scaffolds, the scaffold must have additional independent support lines equal in number and strength to the suspension lines and have automatic locking devices. 1926.451(g)(3)(iii)
  • Emergency escape and rescue devices must not be used as working platforms, unless designed to function as suspension scaffolds and emergency systems. 1926.451(d)(19)

6. While working on a suspended scaffold, at what height must workers be protected with guardrails, personal fall arrest systems, or both?

a. Four feet or higher above the ground
b. Six feet or higher above a lower level
c. Any height over 10 feet above a lower level
d. 15 feet or higher

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Fall Protection

Workers on suspended scaffolds must use a fall protection system to protect them against scaffold failure. This system will usually consist of a full body harness, lanyard, rope grab, independent vertical lifeline and an independent lifeline anchorage. Remember, fall protection is only as good as its anchorage. The anchorage points are independent points on structures where lifelines are securely attached. These points must be able to support at least 5,000 pounds per employee.

Click on the button to see fall protection requirements for suspended scaffolds.

Fall Protection Required for Specific Scaffolds

Type of Scaffold Fall Protection Required
Aerial lifts Personal fall arrest system
Needle beam scaffold Personal fall arrest system
Boatswains’ chair Personal fall arrest system
Catenary scaffold Personal fall arrest system
Float (ship) scaffold Personal fall arrest system
Single-point and two-point suspension scaffolds Both a personal fall arrest system and a guardrail system
All other suspension scaffolds not specified above Personal fall arrest system or guardrail systems that meet the required criteria

7. Anchorage points for suspended scaffolds must be able to support _____.

a. four times the actual weight of employees and materials
b. 3,000 pounds for fully-loaded scaffold
c. three times the expected load of workers, materials, and equipment
d. at least 5,000 pounds per employee

Check your Work

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Video

Videos

This is a short toolbox talk by Berglund Construction on suspended scaffold safety and rigging.

Final Exam

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