An estimated 2.3 million construction workers, or 65 percent of the construction industry, work on scaffolds. Protecting these workers from scaffold-related accidents may prevent some of the 4,500 injuries and over 60 deaths every year (Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2003 and 2004 data for the private sector), at a savings for American employers of $90 million in workdays not lost. In a recent BLS study, 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. All of these accidents can be controlled by compliance with OSHA standards.
- Construction. OSHA Alliance Program. This is one of OSHA's Strategic Management Plan Focus Areas.
- Construction. OSHA. Construction can be a safe occupation when workers are aware of the hazards, and an effective Safety and Health Program is used. This eTool contains information that helps workers identify and control the hazards that cause the most serious construction-related injuries. Also available in Spanish.
- Scaffolding. OSHA. Provides illustrated safety checklists for specific types of scaffolds. Hazards are identified, as well as the controls that keep these hazards from becoming tragedies.
Scaffolding hazards are addressed in specific standards for the construction industry.
This section highlights OSHA standards, preambles to final rules (background to final rules), Federal Register notices (rules, proposed rules), directives (instruction to OSHA staff), and letters of interpretation (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to scaffolding.
Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)
- 1926 Subpart L, Scaffolds
- 1926.450, Scope, application and definitions applicable to this subpart
- 1926.451, General requirements
- 1926.452, Additional requirements applicable to specific types of scaffolds
- 1926.453, Aerial lifts
- 1926.454, Training requirements. Supplements and clarifies the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2) as these relate to the hazards of work on scaffolds.
- Appendix A, Scaffold specifications. Provides non-mandatory guidelines to assist employers in complying with the requirements of subpart L of this part.
- Appendix B, Criteria for determining the feasibility of providing safe access and fall protection for scaffold erectors and dismantlers
- Appendix C, List of national consensus standards
- Appendix D, List of training topics for scaffold erectors and dismantlers
- Appendix E, Drawings and illustrations. Provides drawings of particular types of scaffolds and scaffold components, as well as graphic illustrations of bracing patterns and tie spacing patterns.
- 1926 Subpart M, Fall Protection
- For additional information on specific state plans or other general standards, see the general industry Standards section.
There are twenty-eight OSHA-approved State Plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements.
Preambles to Final Rules
Federal Register Notices
- Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry. Final Rules 61:46025-46075, (August 30, 1996). Reports that although specific accident ratios cannot be projected for the estimated 3.6 million construction workers currently covered by subpart L, estimates that of the 510,500 injuries and illnesses that occur in the construction industry annually, 9,750 are related to scaffolds.
- Inspection procedures for enforcing Subpart L, Scaffolds used in construction. CPL 02-01-023 [CPL 2-1.23], (January 7, 1997). Establishes inspection procedures and provides clarification to ensure uniform enforcement of the scaffold standards for construction.
Letters of Interpretation
- Whether plywood may be used as scaffold decking material over wood scaffold planks; 29 CFR 1926.450 and 1926.451. (May 18, 2006). Determines that Subpart L does not mandate a particular material to be used for a scaffold deck.
- Whether OSHA standards prohibit using two power hoists wired together to a single control; whether a minimum of two persons are required to be on board a two-point suspended scaffold. (January 25, 2006). Indicates that the employer would be prohibited from using this configuration unless each hoist and the central control were all tested by a qualified laboratory after the motors were wired together. Subpart L does not specify a minimum number of employees that must be on board for operation of a two-point suspension scaffold.
- Requirements in 1926 Subpart L "Scaffolds" regarding the use of plywood to make platform decking for scaffolds. (June 21, 2004). Determines that each scaffold and scaffold component shall be capable of supporting, without failure, its own weight and at least 4 times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it and shall be designed by a qualified person and shall be constructed in accordance with that design.
Hazards and Possible Solutions
- A Guide to Scaffold Use in the Construction Industry. OSHA Publication 3150, (Revised 2002). Aims to protect workers using scaffolding in construction work. Scaffolding hazards continue to rank high on the list of the most frequently cited standards in the construction industry.
- Construction - Pocket Guide. OSHA Publication 3252, (2005). Provides hazards and solutions for the top 10 of the most frequently cited standards in construction and lists scaffolding as the most frequently cited standard.
- Scaffolding. OSHA. Provides training and reference materials.
- Scaffolding. Slide Presentation.
- Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry. Reviews existing safety standards.
- Aerial Work Platforms (AWP) Tip Sheets. OSHA and Scaffold & Access Industry Association (SAIA) Alliance. SAIA developed tip sheets for AWPs which provide employees in the construction industry with information for a worksite inspection, a checklist for equipment inspection, the preparation for transport, required fall protection, and rescue plans. The tip sheets contains practical precautions and instruction to help workers reduce risks at job sites:
- AWP Jobsite Checklist (September 2013)
- AWP Prestart Safety Checklist (September 2013)
- Preparing an AWP for Transport (August 2013)
- Rescue Plans for AWP Use (August 2013)
- Selecting and Implementing a Fall Protection System for an AWP (August 2013)
- Rolling Towers/Mobile Scaffold: Inspection, Maintenance, and Use Tip Sheet. OSHA and Scaffold & Access Industry Association (SAIA) Alliance, (August 2013). SAIA developed a tip sheet for mobile/rolling tower scaffolding which provides employees in the construction industry with information for a worksite inspection along with a checklist for equipment inspection, maintenance and use.
- Preventing Electrocutions During Work with Scaffolds Near Overhead Power Lines. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 91-110, (August 1991). Alerts workers to the electrocution hazard when erecting, moving, or working from metal or conductive scaffolds near overhead power lines.
- Preventing Worker Injuries and Deaths Caused by Falls From Suspension Scaffolds. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 92-108, (August 1992). Recommends measures to prevent serious injuries and fatal falls while working from suspension scaffolds:
- Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry. OSHA. Reviews existing safety standards.
- Working Outdoors in Warm Climates. OSHA Fact Sheet, (September 2005). Provides information on heat, sun exposure and other special hazards for outdoor workers in warm climates.
- For additional information on related safety and health topics pages, see the general industry Additional Resources section.