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 >

Search all fact sheets:

Type a word, a phrase, or ask a question

Platforms - Decks

What are some safety tips for decks on a scaffold?

  • Use wooden and metal decks according to job requirements, standards, regulations and manufacturer's instructions.
Wood decking
  • Only cleat planks at the ends to prevent lengthwise movement. Wiring down planks can also prevent movement, provided wire does not create a tripping hazard. Where planks overlap, rest the cleated end on the support. Do not use cleats elsewhere on the plank to prevent splitting.
Securing device
Do not use planks with large knots, worm holes, splits, etc.
  • Ensure that adjoining planks are of uniform thickness for an even platform.
  • Lay planks side by side across the full width of the scaffold.
  • Check scaffold planks for large knots, worm holes, steeply sloping grain at the edges, spike knots, and splits. Splits wider than 10 mm (3/8 in), lengthwise closer than 75 mm (3 in.) to the edge of the plank, or lengthwise longer than ½ the length of the plank are not acceptable. Discard immediately any planks showing these or other defects.
  • Check hooks and hardware of prefabricated platform units regularly for looseness, distortion and cracks. Damage can occur if the platforms are dropped or thrown.
  • Clean ice, snow, oil and grease off planks. Platform decks should be slip-resistant and should not accumulate water.
  • Inspect planks on a regular basis while on the scaffold. Weather, rot, and general use can deteriorate the planks.
  • Do not jump on the planks to test their strength. Jumping can cause undetectable damage.

What are minimum recommendations for the deck?

  • Ensure that all working platforms are about 500 mm (20 in.) minimum in width.
  • Use a minimum of 50 mm (2 in.) x 250 mm (10 in.) Number 1 Grade spruce-pine-fir (SPF) planking or better.
  • Overlap or extend planking 150 mm (6 in.) to 300 mm (12 in.) and cleat at each end to prevent planking from slipping and blowing off.
  • Support planks at intervals not exceeding 3m (10 ft) for light work and 2.1 m (7 ft.) for heavy work (bricklaying, masonry).
  • Check with officials in your local jurisdiction as recommendations may vary.

How should decking be stored?

  • Stack planks on a firm level surface to prevent warping.
  • Band the ends of the boards. Do not paint as the paint can conceal defects.
  • Do not use scaffold planks as a base to stack materials, or as ramps or temporary roadways.

Document last updated on December 17, 2002
Document confirmed current on September 4, 2012


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.