eTools Home: Scaffolding FAQ | Standards | Glossary | Credits
Scaffolding eTool Scaffolding Search
  Access
Access
Workers are most vulnerable to fall hazards when climbing on or off a scaffold. Therefore, employers are required to provide safe scaffold access. Erectors and dismantlers face additional access problems due to the incomplete condition of the scaffolding. Requirements to prevent falls that apply only to these workers are addressed separately below. Note: Except where indicated, these requirements also apply to manually propelled, pump jack, ladder jack, tube and coupler, and pole scaffolds, as well as the specialty scaffolds described in the Supported Scaffolds module.
General
  • Employees must be able to safely access any level of a scaffold that is 2 feet above or below an access point. [1926.451(e)(1)]

  • OSHA standards specifically forbid climbing cross-braces as a means of access. [1926.451(e)(1)]


Ladders
  • Portable, hook-on, and attachable ladders must be positioned so as not to tip the scaffold. [Figure 1] [1926.451(e)(2)(i)]

  • Hook-on and attachable ladders must be specifically designed for use with the type of scaffold on which they are used. [1926.451(e)(2)(iv)]

  • Hook-on and attachable ladder rungs must:

    • Be positioned so that their bottom rung is not more than 24 inches above the scaffold supporting level. [1926.451(e)(2)(ii)]

    • Have uniform spacing between rungs of a maximum 16 inches. [1926.451(e)(2)(vi)]

    • Have minimum rung length of 11 inches. [1926.451(e)(2)(v)]

    • Have rest platforms provided at a maximum of 35-foot vertical intervals. [1926.451(e)(2)(iii)]
  • Stairway-type ladders must:

    • Be positioned so that their bottom step is not more than 24 inches above the scaffold supporting level, [1926.451(e)(3)(i)]

    • Have rest platforms at maximum vertical intervals of 12 feet, [1926.451(e)(3)(ii)]

    • Have a minimum step width of 16 inches, except for mobile scaffold stairway-type ladders, which shall have a minimum step width of 11 inches [1926.451(e)(3)(iii)], and

    • Have slip-resistant treads on all steps and landings. [1926.451(e)(3)(iv)]
  • Steps and rungs of ladders and stairway-type ladders must line up vertically with each other between rest platforms. [1926.451(e)(7)]
Figure 1. Example of a frame scaffold with portable ladder for access. Could it tip the scaffold?

Figure 1.
Example of a frame scaffold with portable ladder for access. Could it tip the scaffold?



Integral (Built-in) Access
  • Integral (built-in) scaffold access frames must:

    • Be specifically designed and constructed for use as ladder rungs. [1926.451(e)(6)(i)]

    • Not be used as work platforms when rungs are less than 11 inches in length, unless each affected employee uses appropriate fall protection. [1926.451(e)(6)(iii)]

    • Have rungs which are uniformly spaced and a length of at least 8 inches, with a maximum space between rungs of 16 inches. [1926.451(e)(6)(ii), (iii), (iv) and 1926.451(e)(2)(vi)

    • Have rest platforms provided at a maximum of 35 foot vertical intervals. [1926.451(e)(6)(v)]

Stair towers (scaffold stairway/towers) must have: [Figure 2]

  • A stair rail consisting of a toprail and a midrail on each side of the stairway. [1926.451(e)(4)(i)]

  • A toprail of each stair rail system capable of serving as a handrail, unless a separate handrail is provided. [1926.451(e)(4)(ii)]

  • Sufficient handhold on handrails, and toprails serving as handrails, for employees grasping them to avoid falling. [1926.451(e)(4)(iii)]

  • Stair rails and handrails surfaced to prevent punctures or lacerations to employees, and to prevent snagging of clothing. [1926.451(e)(4)(iv)]

  • Ends of stair rails and handrails constructed so that they do not constitute a projection hazard. [1926.451(e)(4)(v)]

  • A space of at least 3 inches between handrails, or stair rails used as handrails, and other objects. [1926.451(e)(4)(vi)]

  • A distance of no less than 28 inches and no more than 37 inches from the upper surface of the stair rail to the forward edge of the tread, in line with the face of the riser. [1926.451(e)(4)(vii)]

  • A landing platform at least 18 inches wide by 18 inches long at each level. [1926.451(e)(4)(viii)]

  • A scaffold stairway width of at least 18 inches between stair rails. [1926.451(e)(4)(ix)]

  • Slip-resistant surfaces on treads and landings. [1926.451(e)(4)(x)]

  • Stairways installed between 40 degrees and 60 degrees from the horizontal. [1926.451(e)(4)(xi)]

  • Guardrails meeting OSHA requirements [see 1926.451(g)(4)] on the open sides and ends of each landing. [1926.451(e)(4)(xii)]

  • Uniform riser height, within -inch, for each flight of stairs. Greater variations in riser height are allowed for the top and bottom steps of the entire system (not for each flight of stairs). [1926.451(e)(4)(xiii)]

  • Uniform tread depth, within -inch, for each flight of stairs. [1926.451(e)(4)(xiv)]

Figure 2. Stair tower with stairrail, including toprail and midrail.

Figure 2.
Stair tower with stair rail, including toprail and midrail.



Ramps and Walkways
  • Ramps and walkways 6 feet or more above lower levels must have guardrails that comply with 1926 Subpart M - Fall Protection. [1926.451(e)(5)(i)]

  • No ramp or walkway shall incline more than 1:3 (1 vertical to 3 horizontal, or 20 degrees above the horizontal). [1926.451(e)(5)(ii)]

  • If a ramp or walkway has a slope of more than 1:8, it must have cleats securely fastened to the planks not more than 14 inches apart, to provide footing. [1926.451(e)(5)(iii)]


Direct Access
  • Direct access to or from another surface is permitted only when the scaffold is not more than 14 inches horizontally and not more than 24 inches vertically from the other surface. [1926.451(e)(8)
Figure 3. Example of direct access.

Figure 3.
Example of direct access.



Erectors or Dismantlers
  • Employers are required to provide safe access for employees erecting or dismantling supported scaffolds where it is feasible, and where it does not create a greater hazard. [1926.451(e)(9)(i)]

  • Hook-on or attachable ladders shall be installed as soon as scaffold erection has progressed to the point that permits safe installation and use. [Figure 4] [1926.451(e)(9)(ii)]

  • When erecting and dismantling tubular, welded-frame scaffolds, end frames may be used as climbing devices for access, provided that: [1926.451(e)(9)(iii)]

    • Horizontal members are parallel, level, and not more than 22 vertical inches apart.

    • They are erected in a manner that creates a usable ladder and provides good hand hold and foot space.
  • Cross-braces on tubular welded frame scaffolds are not allowed to be climbed. [1926.451(e)(9)(iv)]
Figure 4. Install ladder as soon as possible during scaffold erection.

Figure 4.
Install ladder as soon as possible during scaffold erection.


Competent Persons
  • The competent person is responsible for determining the safety and feasibility of installing and using safe means of access, based on site conditions and the type of scaffold involved. [1926.451(e)(9)(i)]
 
 
eTools Home: Scaffolding FAQ | Standards | Glossary | Credits