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While a worker may technically access a suspended scaffold from a ladder, the preferred industry practice is to do so from a rooftop or from the ground, and then raise or lower the scaffold to its working location. Therefore, ladder access is not discussed in this module. To review ladder access requirements, please refer to the OSHA Standard [1926.451(e)] or the Supported Scaffolds module. Note: Except where indicated, these requirements also apply to multi-level, single-point adjustable, multi-point adjustable, interior hung, needle beam, catenary, and float (ship) scaffolds.
  • 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)]

TIP: When a suspended scaffold sits overnight, water condensation may form on the wire ropes, making them slip through the braking device and cause the scaffold to fall. Before allowing workers onto the platform, a good safety practice is to raise the scaffold 3 feet, then lower it and hit the brakes to clear the moisture (see Support).

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)]

  • For two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds, access to one platform from another may only take place when the platforms:

    • Are the same height,

    • Are abutting, and

    • Have walk-through stirrups specifically designed for that purpose. [1926.452(p)(6)]
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