OSHA Platform Requirements

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Platforms are the work area components of a scaffolding system. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for scaffolding safety come from the Code of Federal Regulations. Specifically, 29 CFR 1926.451 outlines the construction, safety and training requirements for scaffolding systems used at a construction site. To assist employers and employees alike, OSHA printed "Publication 3150, Scaffold Use in Construction" and "Publication 3100, Crane or Derrick Suspended Personnel Platforms" to consolidate and simplify the regulation.

Scaffolding system with platforms on each level
Scaffolding system with platforms on each level (Image: roman023/iStock/Getty Images)

Maximum Load

Each scaffolding system component is rated for a maximum weight by the manufacturer. To meet OSHA safety requirements, the platform must be able to support its own weight plus at least four times the intended load. The load includes workers, equipment, building materials and tools.

Workers on scaffolding platform
Workers on scaffolding platform (Image: hxdbzxy/iStock/Getty Images)

Plank Requirements

Scaffolding platforms are required to be planked as completely as possible. The gap between the planks and the uprights cannot exceed 1 inch.

Scaffolding on a large buidling
Scaffolding on a large buidling (Image: kuczin/iStock/Getty Images)

Suspension and Supported Platforms

Suspension scaffolds have platforms suspended by ropes or cables, either from a rooftop, crane or derrick. The most common type of suspension scaffolding system is called a two-point, which is similar to a window washer's scaffold. These platforms have to be secured to avoid swaying. All workers on these platforms are required to wear fall-protection gear.

Supported scaffolds are set on the ground and have platforms supported by a system of legs, posts, crossbeams and frames. Some are built with wheels and can be moved around the worksite. These scaffolding systems are required to be built on a firm surface, leveled and braced to help prevent movement. Guardrails and fall-protection gear are required if the platform is more than 10 feet high.

Suspension scaffold platform
Suspension scaffold platform (Image: Tonpicknick/iStock/Getty Images)

Worker Access

Workers must be able to access the scaffold platform safely. A supported scaffolding system has attachable ladders, stairs and ramps. Workers are prohibited from using the frame work to climb to the platform.

Construction supervisors on a scaffold platform
Construction supervisors on a scaffold platform (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Fall Protection

Fall protection includes guardrails and personal fall-arrest systems. Workers are required to wear harnesses and lifelines while on the platform. Lifelines have to be secured separately from the scaffolding support lines that prevent swaying and from the suspension ropes the scaffold hangs from. If the scaffolding falls, the workers will not.

If the platform is not at least 18 inches wide or is more than 10 feet above the ground, guardrails must also be used.

Workers on scaffolding wearing safety harnesses
Workers on scaffolding wearing safety harnesses (Image: hxdbzxy/iStock/Getty Images)

Training Requirements

Employees must be trained prior to working on a scaffolding system by personnel qualified to identify and minimize hazards. Employees involved in the assembly, repair or maintenance of scaffolding systems are required to be trained by an instructor qualified in the proper procedures for those activities.

Specially trained workers on scaffolding
Specially trained workers on scaffolding (Image: hxdyl/iStock/Getty Images)

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