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.

OSHA Standards

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.
State Standards

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.


Letters of Interpretation

Hazards and Possible Solutions
Additional Information


Other Resources

  • 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.