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General Requirements Shipbuilding Ship Repair Shipbreaking Barge Cleaning

Shipbreaking » Scaffolds (Staging)


Figure 1: Scaffolding used to access rudder
Figure 1: Scaffolding used to access rudder.

Scaffolds, or staging, are devices used to provide an elevated working surface. Staging may be various designs and is often constructed to fit the ship.

Staging must be adequate for the work performed because falls are a significant hazard in the shipyard.

Before working on or near any scaffolding, workers should ensure that scaffolds are:

  • Safely secured and supported,
  • Level,
  • Provided with safe access (such as ladders),
  • Adequately decked (for example, have a work surface and platform), and 
  • Provided with guard rails (hand and mid).

The following are general requirements for all staging and scaffolds:

Types of Scaffolding (Staging):

Note: The terms scaffold and staging are used interchangeably.

Note: Confined space entry is one of the leading hazards associated with barge cleaning. Review the Shipbreaking: Confined or Enclosed Spaces and Other Dangerous Atmospheres chapter for information on how to protect workers from this hazard.


General Scaffolding Requirements
Figure 2: Improper practice - Unstable scaffolding and missing guardrails
Figure 2: Improper practice - Unstable scaffolding and missing guardrails.

Figure 3: Improper practice - Scaffold without guardrails subject to surging motion
Figure 3: Improper practice - Scaffold without guardrails subject to surging motion.

Figure 4: Properly erected andguarded pole scaffolding
Figure 4: Properly erected and
guarded pole scaffolding.

Figure 5: Improper practice - Unsafe scaffold and ramp access, supported by unstable stand
Figure 5: Improper practice - Unsafe scaffold and ramp access, supported by unstable stand.

Figure 6: Improper practice - Scaffold planking extending more than 12 inches beyond supports and no guardrails provided
Figure 6: Improper practice - Scaffold planking extending more than 12 inches beyond supports and no guardrails provided.

Scaffolding, or staging, presents hazards for personnel working from, accessing, or leaving a scaffold. To be safe, scaffolding must be constructed from specified materials in an approved manner. [29 CFR 1915.71(b)] Fall protection must be provided for the workers on the scaffold. [29 CFR 1915.71(j)(1)] Protection from falling objects must be provided for workers below the scaffold. [29 CFR 1915.71(j)(5)]

Potential Hazards:

  • Failure or overloading of the staging components may result in the collapse of the unit in whole or in part, causing workers to fall.
  • Surging when working on scaffolds mounted on floating vessels (for example, movement of work surface). See Figure 3.
  • Workers on the scaffolds falling to the level below.
  • Items falling from the scaffolds and striking workers below.

Requirements and Example Solutions:

  • All scaffolds and their supports must be capable of supporting the load they are designed to carry with a safety factor of no less than four. [29 CFR 1915.71(b)(1)]
  • All lumber (such as scaffold grade, ([29 CFR 1915.71(b)(2) and (b)(3)]) used in the construction of scaffolds must be sound, straight, and free from defects. [29 CFR 1915.71(b)(4)]
    • Note: Laminated planking providing the equivalent strength of scaffold-grade planking is acceptable if it is substantiated by engineering data. See the following OSHA Standard Interpretation Letters:
    • Scaffolds shall be maintained in a safe and secure condition. Any component of the scaffold that is broken, burned, or otherwise defective must be replaced. [29 CFR 1915.71(b)(5)]
    • Unstable objects (such as barrels, boxes, cans, or loose bricks) must not be used as working platforms, or to support working platforms. [29 CFR 1915.71(b)(6)]
    • Scaffolds must be erected, moved, dismantled, or altered under the supervision of scaffold competent persons. [29 CFR 1915.71(b)(7)] Note: This is not the Shipyard Competent Person (SCP).

Scaffold or Platform Planking

  • Platform planking shall be of not less than 2 x 10-inch lumber. [29 CFR 1915.71(i)(1)]
  • Platforms of staging shall not be less than two 10-inch planks in width except in such cases as the structure of the vessel or the width of the trestle ladders make it impossible to provide such a width. [29 CFR 1915.71(i)(2)]
  • Platform planking shall project beyond the supporting members at either end by at least 6 inches but in no case shall project more than 12 inches unless the planks are fastened to the supporting members. [29 CFR 1915.71(i)(3)]
  • Scaffold planks shall not be overloaded. [29 CFR 1915.71(i)(4)]
  • Note: Laminated planking providing the equivalent strength of scaffold grade planking is acceptable if it is substantiated by engineering data. See the following OSHA Standard Interpretation Letters:

Guardrails and Toeboards

  • Scaffolding more than 5 feet above a solid surface, or at any distance above the water, must be provided with railing that has: [29 CFR 1915.71(j)(1)]
    • A top rail of 42 to 45 inches high.
    • A midrail located halfway between the top rail and the platform.
  • Rails must be of 2 x 4-inch lumber, flat bar, or pipe. [29 CFR 1915.71(j)(2)]
    • When used with rigid supports, taut wire or fiber rope of adequate strength may be used.
    • If the distance between supports is more than 8 feet, rails must be equivalent in strength to 2 x 4-inch lumber.
    • Rails must be firmly secured.
    • Where exposed to hot work or chemicals, fiber rope rails must not be used.
    • Note: Chains or other material may be used as guardrails provided they meet the requirements of 29 CFR 1915.71(j)(1).
  • Rails may be omitted where the structure of the vessel prevents their use. [29 CFR 1915.71(j)(3)]
    • When rails are omitted, employees working more than 5 feet above solid surfaces must be protected by safety belts (harnesses) and life lines meeting the requirements of 29 CFR 1915.159(b).
    • Employees working over water must be protected by buoyant work vests meeting the requirements of 29 CFR 1915.158(a).
  • Employees must be protected against falling toward the vessel while working on a swinging or floating scaffold. [29 CFR 1915.71(j)(4)]
  • When necessary, to prevent tools and materials from falling on workers below, toeboards of not less than 1 x 4-inch lumber must be provided. [29 CFR 1915.71(j)(5)]
Figure 7: Mobile scaffold (stair tower) with proper access to working surfaces
Figure 7: Mobile scaffold (stair tower) with proper access to working surfaces.

Access to Staging

  • Staging more than 5 feet high requires appropriate access (ladders, ramps, and stairways). [29 CFR 1915.71(k)(1)]
  • Ramps and stairways must be provided with 36-inch handrails with midrails. [29 CFR 1915.71(k)(2)]
  • Ladders must be located so employees do not need to step more than 1 foot from the ladder to any intermediate landing or platform. [29 CFR 1915.71(k)(3)]
  • Staging with built-in ladders meets these requirements. [29 CFR 1915.71(k)(4)]
  • Staging more than 3 feet below the point of access requires straight, portable, or Jacob's ladder. [29 CFR 1915.71(k)(5)]
Figure 8: Improper practice - Personnel platform being used without following best practices such as using anti-two block device and personal fall protection
Figure 8: Improper practice - Personnel platform being used without following best practices such as using anti-two block device and personal fall protection.

Figure 9: Improper practice - Man basket used without tag line or personal fall protection, and with an improperly guarded open side
Figure 9: Improper practice - Man basket used without tag line or personal fall protection, and with an improperly guarded open side.

  • Live-load and live-boom cranes, such as free falls, should not be used.
  • Employees being hoisted should remain in continuous sight of or in direct communication with (radio) the operator or signal person.
  • Except over water, employees occupying the personnel platform should use a body belt/harness system with lanyard properly attached and capable of supporting a fall impact for employees using the anchorage. While working over water workers should wear a personal flotation device (PFD).
  • An anti-two-block device should be used.
  • Personnel platform and suspension systems, such as guard rails, bridles, safe working load, and so forth, should be designed by a qualified engineer or a qualified person competent in structural design and maximum intended load should not be exceeded.
  • A visual inspection of the crane or derrick, rigging, personnel platform, and the crane or derrick base support or ground should be conducted by a competent person. Note: This is not the Shipyard Competent Person (SCP).
  • Employees should keep all body parts inside the platform during raising, lowering, and positioning.
  • Tag lines should be used unless their use creates an unsafe condition.
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