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Scaffold Use in Construction

Scaffolding, on its own, makes a work environment unsafe at a construction site. Workplace safety is at risk from dangerous scenarios including falls, flying objects, and unstable structures. Working on or around scaffolding is safer thanks to OSHA’s construction scaffolding regulations.

In 1996, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) investigations revealed that 25% of employees hurt in scaffold accidents had not received scaffold safety training. OSHA tightened the training standards to stop this from happening again. Each employee who works on a scaffold must be trained by a certified trainer to understand the risks and how to reduce or mitigate them. Training such as our own train the trainer Scaffolding Certification Safety Training Course must include knowledge of:

  • Proper methods for handling electrical risks, as well as for setting up, maintaining, and taking apart the employed fall safety and falling object protection systems.
  • Potential electrical and fall risks in the work environment.
  • The maximum planned load, the load-carrying capacity of the scaffolds utilized, and any additional requirements that may be relevant.

OSHA Scaffolding Requirements

Every worker on a scaffold more than 10 feet above a lower level requires protection against falling. Though some regulations mandate the use of fall protection at six feet for the majority of building operations, the threshold for scaffolding operations is different. Because scaffolds are temporary structures built to assist workers who are building or dismantling other structures, and because scaffolds are less suitable for the use of fall protection at the time the first level is created, different thresholds are needed.

Depending on the kind of scaffold, several types of fall protection should be offered to the personnel:

What Fall Protection Is Required When Working on a Scaffold?

Fall protection equipment is needed to prevent workers from falling when on a scaffold that is more than 10 feet above the ground. Depending on the kind of scaffolding, a different sort of fall protection will be used.

To keep you safe in the case of a fall, use a Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS) made up of a harness, a connecting device, and an anchoring point. Any scaffolding, lift, or task higher than 6 feet in the air normally requires fall protection. Always be aware of the weight restrictions for your fall arrest equipment. If your weight exceeds the device’s maximum user weight rating, use a different device.

Devices for fall protection must be fastened to an authorized, stable anchor point. The body harness’ connection point needs to be close to shoulder level in the middle of the wearer’s back. Unless specifically designed for such use, personal fall arrest systems shouldn’t be fastened to guardrails, hoists, or any other object.

Before each use, a competent person must check your harness and lanyard for signs of wear, damage, and other deterioration. Anything that seems worn out or damaged should be taken out of service. Remove your harness and lanyard from service if it was involved in a fall until a competent can examine it. However, the best approach is to retire the harness from use following any falls.


All walkways inside a scaffolding system must have guardrails. Any guardrail system must have a top rail with a minimum weight capability of 200 pounds and be positioned within 9 ½ inches along, at least, one side of each walkway.

Both a personal fall arrest system and a guardrail system are required to safeguard workers on single-point or two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds, as well as those on self-contained adjustable scaffolds supported by ropes. The only thing you need is a guardrail system for self-contained adjustable scaffolds that are supported by a framework.

Safety Net Systems

Workplaces that are more than 25 feet above the ground, water, or another surface where the use of ladders, scaffolds, catch platforms, temporary floors, safety lines, or safety belts is unfeasible must be equipped with safety nets. Safety nets should be installed as closely as possible to the working and walking surface.

Safety nets should have a mesh size no larger than 6 by 6 inches, a minimum impact resistance of 17,500 foot-pounds, and should reach 8 feet beyond the edge of the work area. Check the nets for wear or damage at least once every week.

Masonry Scaffolding

Masonry scaffolds are composed of uprights, outriggers, cross braces, and base plates. These are frequently not even fitted or finished correctly, which renders them dangerous. The fact that scaffolding’s ends are not protected is one of the most common problems with railings. Companies often overlook enclosing the scaffold’s width from front to rear on each end.

The location of the cross-braces is another area that gets overlooked. People believe the guardrails are there to keep them safe. This is not entirely true. Depending on where the two braces cross, the laws specify that cross-bracing can only be a top rail or a mid-rail. Avoid both as it would be impossible for the two straight cross braces to cross in more than one location.

Fall Protection Safety Standards

Scaffolding routinely appears on OSHA’s top ten most commonly reported infractions because of the complexity of the regulations. Only scaffolds that have been approved by the manufacturer may be utilized as anchor points in four-point suspended scaffolding. Having a competent person who is adequately trained and knowledgeable about the kinds of scaffolding you employ is crucial for this reason.

When using suspended scaffolding, you must always be tied off. You might be tethered to the hanging scaffold itself for a four-point suspension scaffold. Only scaffolds that have been approved by the manufacturer may be utilized as anchor points. This is significant since the forces of a fall might cause many scaffold systems to collapse.

What Is a Personal Fall Arrest System?

As we said before, a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) prevents a person from striking a lower floor level or other objects in the event of a fall and is used when other types of fall protection are not practical or viable.

Every personal fall arrest system consists of an anchorage point, a connecting mechanism, and a complete body harness. Each of these three elements contributes significantly to preventing a hazardous fall. Knowing the three primary components of your PFAS and what each one does is crucial because they are all part of a fall protection program.

Any PFAS must only be used under the supervision of a competent person. A competent person must be able to recognize, assess, and deal with both current and foreseeable fall hazards.

Full Body Harness

A full body harness, also referred to as a safety harness, is the part of a personal fall arrest system that you wear. A worker is connected to the anchorage point by a full body harness, preventing them from falling and striking a lower level or item. A full body harness makes sure the worker is suspended upright after a fall and distributes the fall’s forces throughout the body.

Points of Connection

A lanyard and a self-retracting lifeline are the two main categories of connection devices. The connection device, which is intended to attach to the full body harness and anchorage point, is what defines the duration and distance of a worker’s probable fall. Every connecting method has a particular situational application and must be worn, attached, and anchored by the person conducting the task.


A lanyard is an attachment point at each end of a short, flexible length of rope or webbing strap. At one end, lanyards are connected to a full body harness. On the other end, they are connected to a deceleration mechanism, a shock absorber, or an anchorage point. A lot of lanyards come with an internal or external shock absorber that is intended to lessen the force that a worker would experience in the event of a fall.

Self-Retracting Lifeline

Like a lanyard, a self-retracting lifeline connects the worker’s safety harness to an anchorage point. However, there is one significant distinction. A self-retracting lifeline prevents the worker from hanging loosely and immediately retracts, limiting the worker’s free-fall distance to two feet or less.

Anchorage Point

An anchorage point is the third and last part of a personal fall arrest system. A person is supported before, during, and after a fall by an anchorage point. This is typically a component that is permanently fastened to the building being worked on. Steel is the most commonly used material for an anchor point. Any bolts and washers used as anchorage points should be examined to determine how well they can support the weight. It is important to clarify that it isn’t just the weight of the person, but they should be rated for a specific weight capacity.

One facet of fall protection safety is comprehending the function of a PFAS and its constituent parts. We suggest taking the Fall Protection & Personal Fall Arrest Systems course from Hard Hat Training if you want to learn more about fall protection systems.