What are the highlights of the OSHA scaffolding standard?

OSHA's scaffolding standard has several key provisions:

Fall protection or fall arrest systems—Each employee more than 10 feet above a lower level shall be protected from falls by guardrails or a fall arrest system, except those on single-point and two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds. Each employee on a single-point and two-point adjustable suspended scaffold shall be protected by both a personal fall arrest system and a guardrail. 1926.451(g)(1)

Guardrail height—The height of the toprail for scaffolds manufactured and placed in service after January 1, 2000 must be between 38 inches (0.9 meters) and 45 inches (1.2 meters). The height of the toprail for scaffolds manufactured and placed in service before January 1, 2000 can be between 36 inches (0.9 meters) and 45 inches (1.2 meters). 1926.451(g)(4)(ii)

Crossbracing—When the crosspoint of crossbracing is used as a toprail, it must be between 38 inches (0.97 m) and 48 inches (1.3 meters) above the work platform. 1926.451(g)(4)(xv)

Midrails— Midrails must be installed approximately halfway between the toprail and the platform surface. When a crosspoint of crossbracing is used as a midrail, it must be between 20 inches (0.5 meters) and 30 inches (0.8 m) above the work platform. 1926.451(g)(4)

scaffolding infographic at night

Footings—Support scaffold footings shall be level and capable of supporting the loaded scaffold. The legs, poles, frames, and uprights shall bear on base plates and mud sills. 1926.451(c)(2)

Platforms—Supported scaffold platforms shall be fully planked or decked. 1926.451(b)

Guying ties, and braces—Supported scaffolds with a height-to-base of more than 4:1 shall be restained from tipping by guying, tying, bracing, or the equivalent. 1926.451(c)(1)

Capacity—Scaffolds and scaffold compponents must support at least 4 times the maximum intended load. Suspension scaffold rigging must at least 6 times the intended load. 1926.451(a)(1)

Training—Employers must train each employee who works on a scaffold on the hazards and the procedures to control the hazards. 1926.454

Inspections—Before each work shift and after any occurrence that could affect the structural integrity, a competent person must inspect the scaffold and scaffold components for visible defects. 1926.451(f)(3)

Erecting and Dismantling

—When erecting and dismantling supported scaffolds, a competent person must determine the feasibility of providing a safe means of access and fall protection for these operations. 1926.451(e)(9) & (g)(2)

When is a competent person required for scaffolding? OSHA's scaffolding standard defines a competent person as "one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them."

The standard requires a competent person to perform the following duties under these circumstances:

In General:

- To select and direct employees who erect, dismantle, move, or alter scaffolds. 1926.451(f)(7)

- To determine if it is safe for employees to work on or from a scaffold during storms or high winds and to ensure that a personal fall arrest system or wind screens protect these employees. (Note: Windscreens should not be used unless the scaffold is secured against the anticipated wind forces imposed.) 1926.451(f)(12)

• HAZWOPER training - To train employees involved in erecting, disassembling, moving, operating, repairing, maintaining, or inspecting scaffolds to recognize associated work hazards. 1926.454(b)

• For Inspections - To inspect scaffolds and scaffold components for visible defects before each work shift and after any occurrence which could affect the structural integrity and to authorize prompt corrective actions. 1926.451(f)(3)


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