General Requirements >> Scaffolds (Staging)

Figure 1: Illustration of shipyard scaffolds
Figure 1: Illustration of shipyard scaffolds.

Scaffolds, or staging, are devices used to provide a elevated working surface. Staging may be of several different 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 scaffold, 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.

The following are general requirements for all staging and scaffolds:

Types of Scaffolding (Staging):

Other Types of Scaffolds (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 Ship Repair: Confined/Enclosed Spaces and Other Dangerous Atmospheres chapter for information on how to protect workers from this hazard.

Figure 1: Staging around the super-structure of a ship to provide a work surface for maintenance. Access ladder is shown

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)]

Figure 2: Independent pole metal scaffolding

Potential Hazards

  • Failure of the staging components or overloading may result in collapse of the unit in whole or in part, causing workers to fall.
  • Workers falling off the staging due to lack of edge guards.
  • Items falling off the staging and injuring workers below.
  • Surging (for example movement of work surface) when working on floating scaffolds.
  • Workers on the scaffolds falling to the level below.
  • Items falling from the scaffolds and striking workers below.
Figure 3: Metal pole scaffold being properly erected

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)]
    • Figure 4: Improper practice - Workers in work basket suspended by a bridle with four legs; crane hook must have safety gate, or be moused
      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).
  • Figure 5: Improper practice - Horse staging with 2 x 10 planking, showing improper use of step ladder on it
    Welding, burning, riveting, or open flame work must not be performed on any staging suspended by means of fiber rope. [29 CFR 1915.71(b)(8)]
    • Note: Wire rope can be easily damaged by hot work.
  • Lifting bridles on working platforms suspended from cranes must consist of four legs so that the stability of the platform is assured. [29 CFR 1915.71(b)(9)]
  • Unless the crane hook has a safety latch or is moused, the lifting bridles on working platforms suspended from cranes must be attached by shackles to the lower lifting block, or other positive means must be taken to prevent them from becoming accidentally disengaged from the crane hook. [29 CFR 1915.71(b)(10)]
Improper practice - Figure 6: Scaffold planking extending more than 12 inches; improper unless it is secured to the supporting members

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)]
  • Figure 7: Worker on independent metal pole scaffold protected with guardrails
    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:
Figure 8: Scaffold with proper toe board

Guardrails and Toeboards

  • Scaffolding more than 5 feet above a solid surface, or at any distance above the water, must be provided with railing which 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.
  • Figure 9: Internal stairway with proper handrails for scaffold access
    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 for 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)]
    • Figure 10: Access ladder within one foot of scaffold platform
      When rails are omitted, employees working more than 5 feet above solid surfaces must be protected by harnesses and life lines meeting the requirements of 29 CFR 1915.159.
    • 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 11: Staging with built in stairs

Access to Staging

  • Staging more than 5 feet high requires appropriate access (for example ladders ramps, 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 one foot from the ladder to any intermediate landing or platform. [29 CFR 1915.71(k)(3)]
  • Figure 12: Ladders providing access to scaffolds that are below outside of deck
    Staging with built-in ladders meets these requirements. [29 CFR 1915.71(k)(4)]
  • Staging more than three feet below the point of access requires straight, portable, or Jacob's ladder. [29 CFR 1915.71(k)(5)]
Figure 13: Hoisted workers are in continuous sight of signal person and keep their hands, arms, etc. within the basket while it is being moved
  • Live-load and live-boom crane (such as free falls) should not be used.
  • Employees being hoisted should remain in continuous sight of or in direct communication (e.g., radio) with 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).
  • Anti-Two-block device should be used.
  • Suspended personnel platform and suspension system (such as guard rails, bridles, safe working load, etc.) 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 parts of the body inside the platform during raising, lowering, and positioning.
  • Tag lines should be used unless their use creates an unsafe condition.