eTools Home: Scaffolding FAQ | Standards | Glossary | Credits
Scaffolding eTool Scaffolding Search
  Platform
Platform
Because the platform is the work area of a suspended scaffold, an inspection requires safety checks of both the platform structure and how the platform is used by the workers. 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.
Decking
  • Platforms on two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds (swing stages) must be no more than 36 inches wide, unless a qualified person has designed them to prevent unstable conditions. [1926.452(p)(1)]

  • The platform must be securely fastened to hangers (stirrups) by U-bolts, or by other means that make it capable of supporting its own weight and at least 4 times its maximum intended load. [1926.452(p)(2)]

  • Platforms are to be either ladder-type, plank-type, beam-type, or light metal-type. [1926.452(p)(4)] (Note: For more on plank-type platforms, see Planking.)

  • All platforms 40 feet or less in length, and light metal-type platforms with a rated capacity of 750 pounds or less, must be tested and listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. [1926.452(p)(4)]

  • Scaffold platforms and walkways must be at least 18 inches wide, unless they are used in areas that the employer can demonstrate are so narrow that they must be less than 18 inches wide. In such cases, the platforms must be as wide as feasible, and fall protection must be provided (Figure 1). [1926.451(b)(2)(ii)]

  • Nothing that could cause a slip, trip or fall (i.e. tools, scrap material, chemicals, snow, ice, etc.) is allowed to accumulate on the platform. [1926.451(f)(8)]

  • Devices whose sole function is to provide emergency escape and rescue may not be used as working platforms. This does not preclude the use of systems designed to function as both suspension scaffolds and emergency systems. [1926.451(d)(18)]

  • Makeshift devices, such as boxes and barrels, may not be used on top of scaffold platforms to increase the height of the working level. [1926.451(f)(14)]

  • Ladders may not be used on scaffolds to increase the height of the working level, except on large-area scaffolds where employees have met the following criteria: [1926.451(f)(15)]

    • When the ladder is placed against a structure which is not part of the scaffold, the scaffold must be secured against the sideways thrust exerted by the ladder; [1926.451(f)(15)(i)]

    • The platform units must be secured to the scaffold to prevent their movement; [1926.451(f)(15)(ii)]

    • The ladder legs must be on the same platform, or other means must be provided to stabilize the ladder against unequal platform deflection; [1926.451(f)(15)(iii)]

    • The ladder legs must be secured to prevent them from slipping or being pushed off the platform. [1926.451(f)(15)(iv)]

Non-mandatory guidelines for two-point suspended platforms:

  • Ladder-type platforms must have:

    • Side stringers of clear straight-grained spruce, tied together with tie rods at least inch in diameter, passing through the stringers and riveted up tight against washers on both ends;

    • Straight-grained oak, ash or hickory rungs at least 1 7/8 inches in diameter, with 7/8 inch tenons mortised into the side stringers at least 7/8 inch;

    • Flooring strips spaced apart no more than 5/8 inch, (side rails may be up to 1 inch apart). [1926 Subpart L Appendix A (p)(3)]

    • All ladder-type platforms must be constructed in accordance with this table.
  • Plank-type platforms must have:

    • Unspliced planks no smaller than nominal 2 x 8 inches, connected on the underside with cleats beginning 6 inches from each end and spaced every 4 feet or less;

    • A bar or other means securely fastened to each end of the platform to prevent it slipping off the hanger; and

    • No more than a 10 foot span between hangers. [1926 Subpart L Appendix A (p)(4)] (Note: For more on plank-type platforms, see Planking.)
  • Beam-type platforms must have:

    • Side stringers of lumber no smaller than 2 x 6 inches set on edge;

    • Floor boards laid flat and spaced no more than inch apart, set snugly into the upper edge of the stringers, and securely nailed to 2 x 6-inch cross beams at intervals of no less than 4 feet; and

    • No more than a 12 foot span between hangers. [1926 Subpart L Appendix A (p)(5)]
Figure 1. This makeshift scaffold's platform is not 18" wide, nor does it have adequate guardrails, and the workers are not wearing  fall protection.

Figure 1.
This makeshift scaffold's platform is not 18" wide, nor does it have adequate guardrails, and the workers are not wearing fall protection.


Schedule for Ladder-Type Platforms
Length of Platform 12
Feet
14 & 16
Feet
18 & 20
Feet
22 & 24
Feet
28 & 30
Feet
Side Stringers, minimum cross section (finished sizes): At ends 1 3/4 x
2 3/4 inches
1 3/4 x
2 3/4 inches
1 3/4 x
3 inches
1 3/4 x
3 inches
1 3/4 x
3 1/2 inches
At middle 1 3/4 x
3 3/4 inches
1 3/4 x
3 3/4 inches
1 3/4 x
4 inches
1 3/4 x
4 1/4 inches
1 3/4 x
5 inches
Reinforcing strip (minimum) A 1/8 x 7/8 inch steel reinforcing strip shall be attached to the side or underside, full length.
Rungs Rungs must be 1 1/8 in minimum diameter with at least 7/8 inch in diameter tenons, and the maximum spacing must be 12 inches to center.
Tie Rods: Number
(minimum)
3 4 4 5 6
Diameter
(minimum)
1/4 inch 1/4 inch 1/4 inch 1/4 inch 1/4 inch
Flooring minimum
finished size
1/2 x
2 3/4 inches
1/2 x
2 3/4 inches
1/2 x
2 3/4 inches
1/2 x
2 3/4 inches
1/2 x
2 3/4 inches



Working Distance
  • For most activities, there must be no more than a 14-inch gap between the scaffold platform and the structure being worked on. For lathing and plastering, a gap of 18 inches is permitted. [1926.451(b)(3) and 1926.451(b)(3)(ii)]


Overlap
  • To prevent slippage, platforms must be cleated or otherwise restrained at each end, or else overlap centerline support at least 6 inches. [1926.451(b)(4)]

  • Unless it is designed and installed to support employees and materials without tipping, or has guardrails that block employee access, each end of a platform may not extend over its support more than 12 inches (for platforms 10 feet or shorter in length) or more than 18 inches (for platforms more than 10 feet long). [1926.451(b)(5)]

  • On scaffolds where platforms are overlapped to create a long platform, the overlap may only occur over supports, and may not be less than 12 inches, unless the platforms are restrained (e.g., nailed together) to prevent movement. [1926.451(b)(7)]

  • On scaffolds where platforms are abutted to create a long platform, each abutted end must rest on a separate support surface (this does not preclude the use of shared support members such as "T" sections, hook-on platforms that rest on common supports, etc.). [1926.451(b)(6)]


Brackets
  • When brackets are used to support cantilevered platforms, they must:

    • Be seated with side-brackets parallel to the frames, and end-brackets at 90 degrees to the frames. [1926.452(c)(5)(i)]

    • Be used only to support personnel, unless the scaffold has been designed and built to withstand the tipping forces caused by other loads. [1926.452(c)(5)(iii)]


Capacity
  • Scaffold platforms must be able to support their own weight, plus four times the maximum intended load. [1926.451(a)(1)]

  • Do not load the scaffold or any component parts beyond their maximum capacity (their own weight and 4:1 the maximum intended load). A scaffold can be overloaded by:

    • Too many people being on the platform,

    • Too much material being stored on the platform, or

    • Point loading, or concentrating too much of the load in one area. [1926.451(f)(1)]
  • Platforms must not deflect more than 1/60 of the span when loaded (see Planking). [1926.451(f)(16)]


Falling Object Protection

There are two kinds of falling object hazards associated with scaffolds. One hazard concerns the employees on the scaffold itself; the other concerns employees who work in or enter the area below the scaffold.

  • Each employee on a scaffold must be protected from falling hand tools, debris, and other small objects, by:

    • Hardhats;

    • Toeboards, screens, or guardrail systems;

    • Debris nets or canopy structures that contain or deflect falling objects; and

    • Placement of potential falling objects away from the edge of the surface from which they may fall. [1926.451(h)(1)]
  • Where there is a danger of tools, materials, or equipment falling from a scaffold onto employees below, they must be protected by the following measures:

    • The area below the scaffold must be barricaded so employees are not permitted to enter; or

    • Toeboards must be installed along the edge of platforms more than 10 feet above lower levels.

    • Where tools, materials, or equipment are piled to a height higher than the top edge of the toeboard, they should be prevented from falling by paneling or screening extending from the toeboard to the top of the guardrail; or

    • A guardrail system shall be installed with openings small enough to contain the objects; or

    • A canopy structure, debris net, or catch platform strong enough to withstand the impact of the potential falling objects shall be erected over the employees. [1926.451(h)(2)]
  • When toeboards are used for falling object protection, they must be:

    • Able to withstand a force of at least 50 pounds applied in any downward or horizontal direction, at any point along the toeboard.

    • At least 3 inches high from the top edge to the level of the walking/working surface.

    • Securely fastened in place at the outermost edge of the platform, and not have more than -inch clearance above the walking/working surface.

    • Solid, or with openings not over 1 inch. [1926.451(h)(4)]
 
 
eTools Home: Scaffolding FAQ | Standards | Glossary | Credits