OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

January 19, 2005

Mr. Joseph Michelini, Attorney
O'Malley, Surman & Michelini
17 Beaverson Boulevard
P.O. Box 220
Brick, New Jersey 08723-0220

Re: Whether OSHA construction standards govern the loading of materials onto scissor lifts and the restraint of those stored materials?

Dear Mr. Michelini:

This is in response to your letter dated October 1, 2004, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You ask about OSHA construction standards that relate to the loading of materials onto scissor lifts and the restraint of such materials, once loaded. On December 7, 2004, you provided additional information to a member of our staff.

We have paraphrased your questions as follows:

Question 1: My question relates to requirements regarding safely stacking material on a scissor lift so that the material does not fall due to wind or other factors. Under OSHA construction standards, is a "qualified individual" required in order to stack the materials onto the scissor lift, and if so, who is a "qualified individual"?

Answer: No, Subpart L — Scaffolds only requires the use of a qualified person to design the scissor lift.

There are no OSHA provisions that specifically address scissor lifts; however, as scissor lifts do meet the definition of a "scaffold" (29 CFR 1926.450), employers must comply with the provisions of 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart L — Scaffolds when using scissor lifts. 1

In §1926.450 of Subpart L, a "qualified" person is defined as:

... one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated his/her ability to solve or resolve problems related to the subject matter, the work, or the project.

Section 1926.451(a)(6) provides:

Scaffolds shall be designed by a qualified person and shall be constructed and loaded in accordance with that design. Non-mandatory Appendix A to this subpart contains examples of criteria that will enable an employer to comply with paragraph (a) of this section. [Emphasis added.]

Thus, by its terms, while the standard requires the design of a scaffold to be done by a qualified person, there is no requirement that a qualified person perform or oversee the loading of material on it. However, the provision does require the employer to ensure that it is loaded in accordance with the qualified person's design. In other words, under this provision, the loading of materials must not exceed the capacity of the scaffold (or its components).

Note that, under §1926.454(a), an employer is required to use a qualified person to perform training on topics that may be relevant to your concerns. More specifically, an employer:

... shall have each employee who performs work while on a scaffold trained by a person qualified in the subject matter to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used and to understand the procedures to control or minimize those hazards. The training shall include the following areas, as applicable:
(1) The nature of any ... falling object hazards in the work area;
(2) The correct procedures ... for erecting, maintaining, and disassembling ... falling object protection systems being used;
(3) The proper use of the scaffold, and the proper handling of materials on the scaffold;
(4) The maximum intended load and the load-carrying capacities of the scaffolds used; and
(5) Any other pertinent requirements of this subpart. [Emphasis added.]

The Preamble to Subpart L, published in the August 30, 1996, Federal Register (Volume 61, page 46096) emphasized:

[t]he language regarding the proper handling of materials [was] added to facilitate compliance with the requirements for falling object protection. 2

Section 1926.454(b) sets forth similar training requirements for those operating a scaffold except that the training must be conducted by a competent person. 3

Finally, note that the "qualified" person is not required to have a degree. While other Subpart L provisions do require the services of a registered professional engineer, 4 the reference to a "qualified" person in the above-noted provisions recognizes that experience may provide sufficient expertise to perform the activities in §§1926.451(a)(6) and 1926.454(a).

Question 2: Which provisions of the construction standards address the manner of stacking of materials on a scissor lift (apart from issues of scaffold capacity), and the restraint of such loaded materials to prevent their displacement by wind or other forces?

Answer: In addition to those already mentioned, Subpart L includes provisions that more specifically address hazards typically associated with the storage of materials on scaffolds. Title 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart H also contains pertinent provisions that are not limited in their application to scaffolds. Some of those provisions, beginning with the most significant, are highlighted below.

General provisions that govern the stacking of stored materials are found in 1926 Subpart H — Materials Handling, Storage, Use and Disposal. For example, requirements in Section 1926.250 include:

(a) General. (1) All materials stored in tiers shall be stacked, racked, blocked, interlocked, or otherwise secured to prevent sliding, falling or collapse.
* * *
(b) Material Storage.
* * *
(4) Bagged materials shall be stacked by stepping back the layers and cross-keying the bags at least every 10 bags.
* * *
(6) Brick stacks shall not be more than 7 feet in height. When a loose brick stack reaches a height of 4 feet, it shall be tapered back 2 inches in every foot of height above the 4-foot level.
(7) When masonry blocks are stacked higher than 6 feet, the stack shall be tapered back one-half block per tier above the 6-foot level.
(8) Lumber:
(i) Used lumber shall have all nails withdrawn before stacking.
(ii) Lumber shall be stacked on level and solidly supported sills.
(iii) Lumber shall be so stacked as to be stable and self-supporting.
(iv) Lumber piles shall not exceed 20 feet in height provided that lumber to be handled manually shall not be stacked more than 16 feet high.
(9) Structural steel, poles, pipe, bar stock, and other cylindrical materials, unless racked, shall be stacked and blocked so as to prevent spreading or tilting.

Provisions in Subpart L include requirements for barricades or other physical means to protect employees from objects that may fall off scaffolds. Section 1926.451(h), Falling object protection, provides:

(1) In addition to wearing hardhats each employee on a scaffold shall be provided with additional protection from falling hand tools, debris, and other small objects through the installation of toeboards, screens, or guardrail systems, or through the erection of debris nets, catch platforms, or canopy structures that contain or deflect the falling objects. When the falling objects are too large, heavy or massive to be contained or deflected by any of the above-listed measures, the employer shall place such potential falling objects away from the edge of the surface from which they could fall and shall secure those materials as necessary to prevent their falling.
(2) Where there is a danger of tools, materials, or equipment falling from a scaffold and striking employees below, the following provisions apply:
(i) The area below the scaffold to which objects can fall shall be barricaded, and employees shall not be permitted to enter the hazard area; or
(ii) A toeboard shall be erected along the edge of platforms more than 10 feet (3.1 m) above lower levels for a distance sufficient to protect employees below, except on float (ship) scaffolds where an edging of ¾ x 1½ inch (2 x 4 cm) wood or equivalent may be used in lieu of toeboards;
(iii) Where tools, materials, or equipment are piled to a height higher than the top edge of the toeboard, paneling or screening extending from the toeboard or platform to the top of the guardrail shall be erected for a distance sufficient to protect employees below; or
(iv) A guardrail system shall be installed with openings small enough to prevent passage of potential falling objects; or
(v) A canopy structure, debris net, or catch platform strong enough to withstand the impact forces of the potential falling objects shall be erected over the employees below.
(3) Canopies, when used for falling object protection, shall comply with the following criteria:
(i) Canopies shall be installed between the falling object hazard and the employees.
(ii) When canopies are used on suspension scaffolds for falling object protection, the scaffold shall be equipped with additional independent support lines equal in number to the number of points supported, and equivalent in strength to the strength of the suspension ropes.
(iii) Independent support lines and suspension ropes shall not be attached to the same points of anchorage.
(4) Where used, toeboards shall be:
(i) Capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 50 pounds (222 n) applied in any downward or horizontal direction at any point along the toeboard (toeboards built in accordance with Appendix A to this subpart will be deemed to meet this requirement); and
(ii) At least three and one-half inches (9 cm) high from the top edge of the toeboard to the level of the walking/working surface. Toeboards shall be securely fastened in place at the outermost edge of the platform and have not more than 1/4 inch (0.7 cm) clearance above the walking/working surface. Toeboards shall be solid or with openings not over one inch (2.5 cm) in the greatest dimension.

Finally, also in Subpart L, §1926.451(f) Use sets forth general requirements governing capacity 5 (see §1926.451(f)(1)), shift inspections by a competent person for visible defects (see §1926.451(f)(3)), and possibly more significant to your question, the following provision [1926.451(f)(12)] regarding weather:

(12) Work on or from scaffolds is prohibited during storms or high winds unless a competent person has determined that it is safe for employees to be on the scaffold and those employees are protected by a personal fall arrest system or wind screens. Wind screens shall not be used unless the scaffold is secured against the anticipated wind forces imposed.

If you need any additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction



1 Since scissor lifts are mobile, the specific requirements for mobile scaffolds in the scaffold standard (§1926.452(w)) must also be met. [ back to text ]




2 §1926.451(h) of Subpart L contains the falling object protection provisions that are also set forth in the response to Question # 2. [ back to text ]



3 In §1926.450, "competent person means one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them." [Emphasis added.] [ back to text ]



4 For example, see §§1926.451(d)(3)(i) and 1926.452(a)(10), 1926.452(d)(10), 1926.452(c)(6) and 1926.452(i)(8). [ back to text ]



5 The Capacity section of Subpart L, §1926.451(a) contains more specific criteria that ensures that a scaffold can support "its own weight" and at least four times the maximum intended load transmitted to it. That section also addresses the capacity limits of suspension rope, direct connections to roofs and floors, and stall loads. [ back to text ]