OSH Answers Fact Sheets
Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >
What are some general safety tips for erecting scaffolding?
- Refer to safety regulations and standards for design and assembly requirements.
- Choose the right scaffold system for the job.
- Erect all scaffold parts according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Select scaffold according to:
- height required
- type and duration of work
- range of weather conditions
- weight of workers, materials and equipment
- requirements for pedestrian traffic
- Erect scaffold on a base that will support all the loads that will be applied including materials and equipment.
- Make sure the backfill is compact and level. Replace mud and soft soil with gravel or crushed stone.
- Provide adequate sills for scaffold posts and use base plates.
- Set scaffold feet centrally on mudsills consisting of 50x250 mm (2x10 in.) planks. Sills should extend at least 610 mm (2 ft.) beyond the scaffold base and be long enough to extend under at least two scaffold feet.
- Install scaffold with jackscrews (adjusting screws). They allow for minor adjustments to help keep scaffold plumb and level.
- Take extra precautions when erecting scaffold on frozen ground. Thawing soil can become water-soaked and lose its ability to bear weight.
- Brace both sides of every frame for the vertical plane. Install horizontal bracing at the joint of every third tier of frames. This bracing is often attached to the point where the scaffold is tied to the structure.
- Do not force braces to fit. Level the scaffold until a proper fit can be made easily.
- Use coupling devices to join frames to prevent the joints from pulling apart.
- Do not use nails or other devices in the place of proper retention parts as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Tie or brace the scaffold to a solid structure as appropriate.
- Use a debris net, catch platform or similar structure where appropriate to catch falling objects.
What should I consider when installing guardrails?
Install guardrails consisting of:
- a top rail 1 m (40 in.) above platform
- a midrail about halfway between the platform and the top rail on the inside of the posts
- a toe board 100 mm (4 in.) high fastened to inner side of posts
- posts and rails capable of withstanding a force of at least 900 N (200 lb.) applied at any point, or withstanding any load likely to be applied
What must I remember about the stability of scaffold?
Do not allow the ratio of scaffold height to base width to exceed 3 to 1 unless the scaffold is:
- tied into a structure
- stabilized by guy wires
- secured by outriggers or stabilizers to maintain the ratio
Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.