Last updated: January 9, 2020

What Does Scaffolding Mean?

A scaffold is any temporary, elevated work platform and its supporting structure used for holding people, materials, or both. Scaffolding is used in new construction, renovation, maintenance and repairs.

OSHA categorizes scaffolds into three basic types:

  1. Supported scaffolds, which consist of one or more platforms supported by rigid, load- bearing members, such as poles, legs, frames, and outriggers.
  2. Suspended scaffolds, which are one or more platforms suspended by ropes or other non-rigid, overhead support.
  3. Other scaffolds, principally manlifts, personnel hoists, and the like. These are sometimes thought of as vehicles or machinery, but can be regarded as another type of supported scaffold.

Safeopedia Explains Scaffolding

Improper set-up or use of scaffolds is the third most cited OSHA violation. The agency issued

3,900 scaffold citations in 2016. OSHA estimates that approximately 2.3 million construction workers (65 percent of the construction industry) work on scaffolds.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 72 percent of workers injured in scaffolding accidents are injured in accidents caused by the planking or support giving way, or the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.

To comply with OSHA scaffold regulations, employers must:

  1. Construct all scaffolds according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Install guardrail systems along all open sides and ends of platforms.
  3. Use at least one of the following for scaffolds more than 10 feet above a lower level.1
  4. Provide safe access to scaffold platforms.
  5. Do not climb cross-bracing as a means of access.
  6. Always use a licensed professional engineer competent in scaffolding to design tube and coupler scaffolds that exceed the standard limits set forth by OSHA.
  7. Use a licensed professional engineer competent in scaffolding to design the scaffolds (if the state has specific qualification requirements).
  8. Ensure scaffolds are erected, moved, dismantled, and altered under the supervision of a competent person.


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