Scaffold/Staging Safety Policy

                                                                                                                                                        April 2022
Maximum Intended Load
Scaffold Access
Worker Safety
Tube and Coupler Scaffolds
Fabricated Tubular Frame Scaffolds
Manually Propelled Mobile Scaffolds
Outrigger Scaffolds
Ladder Type Scaffolds or Platforms
Horse Scaffolds


This policy establishes health and safety requirements for the proper construction, inspection, maintenance, operation, and use of scaffolds used in the alteration, construction, demolition of building (interior and exterior) and structures at Amherst College and other areas for which the College might have responsibilities. The scaffold policy shall, when applicable, reference the Amherst College Fall Protection Policy. For additional Fall Protection requirements, see the Fall Protection Policy. The College Fall Protection and Scaffold Policy shall be included as part of the Amherst College Policy on Environmental Health and Safety.


The scaffold policy shall establish performance objectives in compliance with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) 29 CFR 1910.28 Safety Requirements for Scaffolding and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A10.8-1988 Scaffolding Safety Requirements as it pertains to College employees working with scaffolding. This policy shall provide the necessary information and training to protect the health and safety of our employees.


This policy (including fall protection) shall apply to every College employee regardless of department that shall be constructing, maintaining, operating, or using scaffolds.
Outside Contractors shall have their own policy on Fall protection and Scaffolding which cannot be less stringent than our College policy. If they do not have a policy, they shall comply with the provisions of this policy for the safety of our faculty, staff, and students.
Scaffolds shall be used when work cannot be done safely from the ground or from safe, solid construction.
Exceptions are as follows:
  1. This policy does not address permanently installed suspended scaffolding systems or aerial platforms.
  2. This policy, for safety reasons, does not address the following types of scaffolding which shall not be used at Amherst College without written specifications and a set of approved plans from a registered professional engineer:
    1. needle beam scaffolds
    2. interior hung scaffolds
    3. float scaffolds
    4. catenary scaffolds
    5. boatswain chair (powered)


Bearer: A horizontal member of the scaffolding that is used to support the platform unit and that might be supported by runners.

Body Belt: A safety belt which is a strap or belt worn around the waist that provides the wearer with the ability to secure it to a lanyard, lifeline, or deceleration device called fall protection. As of January 1, 1998, the use of body belts for fall arrest is prohibited.

Body Harness: Straps which may be secured around the employee in a manner that will distribute the fall arrest forces over at least the thighs, pelvis, waist, chest, and shoulders with a means for attaching it to other components of a personal fall arrest system.

Controlled Access Zone (CAZ): An area in which certain work such as overhead bricklaying may take place without the use of guardrail systems, personal fall systems, or safety net systems, and access to the zone is controlled.

Coupler: A device that locks together parts of the tube and coupler scaffold.

Cross Braces: These are two diagonal scaffold members joined at their center to form an "X" and are used between frames and uprights, or both.

Dangerous Equipment: Machinery, electrical equipment, and other units which may be hazardous to employees who fall onto or into such equipment.

Deceleration Device: Mechanisms such as rope grab, ripstitch lanyard, specially woven lanyard, tearing or deforming lanyards,or automatic self-retracting lifelines/lanyards which serve to dissipate a substantial amount of energy during a fall arrest, or otherwise limit the energy imposed on an employee during a fall arrest.

Drop Line: A vertical line from a fixed anchorage which is independent of the work platform and its rigging and to which a lanyard is affixed. Drop lines are also called lifelines, safety lines, and other related terms.

Guardrail System: A rail system erected along the open sides and ends of platforms. The rail system consists of a top and midrail and their supports.

Horse Scaffold: A scaffold for light and medium duty that is composed of sawhorses supporting a platform.

Ladder Jack Scaffold: A light-duty scaffold consisting of a platform supported by brackets attached to a single or extension ladder.

Lanyard: A flexible line to secure the wearer if a body harness to a drop line/fixed anchor is used.

Leading Edge: The edge of a roof or formwork for a floor or other walking/working surface, such as a deck, which changes location as additional floors, roof decking, or formwork sections are placed, formed, or constructed. Leading edge also refers to an unprotected side or edge during periods when there is not active and continuous construction.

Lifeline: This is a flexible line for connection to an anchorage at both ends. The lifeline stretches horizontally and serves as a means of connection for other components of a personal fall system to the anchorage.

Low Slope Roof: A roof having a slope of less than or equal to 4 in 12.

Manually Propelled Mobile Scaffold: A scaffold which can be moved manually on casters.

Mechanical Equipment: Human or motor-propelled wheeled equipment used for roofing work. This does not include wheelbarrows or mopcarts.

Midrail: A rail placed halfway between the platform and the top rail of a guardrail system.

Outrigger Scaffold: A scaffold supported by outriggers or thrustouts projecting beyond the wall or face of a building or structure. The inboard ends of the outriggers or thrustouts are secured inside of the building or structure.

Overhand Bricklaying: A process of laying bricks or similar material such that the surface of the wall to be jointed is on the opposite side of the wall from the mason which requires the mason to lean over the wall to complete the work.

Personal Fall Arrest System: A system used to arrest an employee in a fall from a working level. The system consists of anchorage, connectors, and a body harness and may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or suitable combination of these.

Positioning Device System: Body harness system rigged to allow an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall, and work with both hands free while leaning.

Qualified Person: A person who by recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience has the ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the scaffolding or related work.

Safety Screen: A barrier mounted between the top rail and the platform.

Safety Monitoring System: A competent person who can recognize and warn employees of fall hazards.

Scaffold Access: A separate, attachable, or built-in means of access to and from a scaffold work unit.

Safety Net: A net which shall meet the requirements of an approved testing agency for the intended use. It shall be installed as close as practical under the walkway or working surface but cannot be more than 30' below the work surface.

Vertical distance from working level to horizontal plane of net Minimum required horizontal distance of outer edge of net from the edge of the working surface
Up to 5 feet 8 feet
> 5 feet; < 10 feet 10 feet
> 10 feet 13 feet

Self-Retracting Lifeline: A deceleration device containing a drum woundline which can be slowly extracted or retracted onto the drum under slight tension during normal employee movement and which will automatically lock the drum should the employee fall.

Steep Roof: A roof which has a slope greater than 4 in 12.

Tieback: An attachment from a structural member of a supporting device.

Toeboard: A barrier along the sides and ends of a platform unit to guard against the falling of materials, tools, or other loose objects.

Toprail: The upermost horizontal rail of a guardrail system.

Warning Line System: A barrier erected on a roof to warn employees that they are approaching an unprotected roof side or edge and which designates an area in which roofing work may take place without the use of a guardrail, body harness, or safety net system to protect employees in that area.

General Requirements

  1. Scaffolds shall be furnished, erected, or used when persons are engaged in work that cannot be performed safely from the ground or from solid construction.
  2. Load scaffolds shall be designed and erected to safely support the design load.
  3. Footing for scaffolds shall be sound, rigid, and capable of carrying the maximum intended load. Barrels, boxes, brick, concrete block, and other unstable objects shall not be used to support scaffolds or planks. Screw jacks are the most common means of scaffold leveling on a sound, rigid surface. Not more than 12 inches of the screw jack shall extend below the bottom of the nut/top of caster.
  4. Anchorage, guying, tying off, or bracing of scaffolds shall be affixed to substantial and structurally sound structures, or the equivalent, using anchor bolts or equivalent.
  5. Guardrails (including toeboards and top rails) shall be installed on all open sides and ends of platforms more than 6 feet above the ground or floor or other platform. Exceptions to this include the following:
      1. during erection or dismantling of the scaffolding
      2. if the walls of a room completely surround the scaffolding
      3. when the ladder jack scaffold is 10 or more feet above the ground or floor, then the drop lines and body harness shall be used
      4. not required when the building side of the working platform if the platform is less than 16" from the building
        • If materials are piled higher than the toeboards and are in areas where persons are required to pass beneath the scaffold, the scaffolds shall be provided with a wire mesh or suitable alternative between the toeboard and the top rail extending along the entire opening.
        • If the wire mesh or alternative is used, the midrail can be eliminated.


        Cross bracing
        1. Maximum Intended Load scaffolds shall be capable of supporting, without failure, their own weight and at least 4 times the maximum intended load.
        2. Scaffold Access is an access ladder or equivalent which shall be provided (except during erecting or dismantling) by one of the following:
          1. Portable ladder - wood metal or fiberglass
          2. Scaffold frame with a maximum spacing between the climbing surfaces of the frame not to exceed 16.5" and the length of the climbing surface shall not be less than 10"
          3. Hook-on attachment ladders specifically designed for its intended purpose
          4. Step or stair-type access specifically designed for its intended purpose
          5. Direct access of adjacent structure or personnel hoist
            • Ladders should be positioned so that the scaffold cannot be tipped. Persons climbing or descending scaffold ladders shall have both hands free for climbing.
            • Cross braces shall not be used as a means of access or degrees.
        3. Platforms are working surfaces which shall be fully planked or decked. The planks shall be laid with their edges close together so that the platform will be tight with no spaces through which tools or fragments of material can fall.
          1. Spaces cannot be more than 1" wide except around uprights.
          2. Plank lapping - the plank shall lap its end supports at least 12" but not more than 18". Where the ends of the planks form a flush floor, the butt joint shall be at the centerline of a pole and the butt ends shall rest on separate bearers. When 2 or more scaffolds are used on a building or structure, they shall not be bridged to one another but shall be maintained at even height with platforms butting. Intermediate beams shall be provided where necessary to prevent dislodgment of planks due to deflection and the ends shall be nailed or cleated to prevent dislodgment.
          3. Platform movement - when moving platforms to the next level, the old platforms shall be left undisturbed until the new bearers have been set in place, ready to receive the platform planks.
            • If the platform cannot be fully planked or decked with standard units, the platform shall be planked as fully as possible. However, the remaining open space between the platform and guardrail shall not exceed 9.5".
        4. Set-up - the poles, legs, and uprights of the scaffold shall be plumb and be securely and rigidly braced to prevent swaying and displacement.
          1. Restrictions
            • Only certified erectors shall climb the scaffold framing while set-up is in progress.
            • Once the fourth level of set-up has completed, connections to the building shall be made immediately.
          2. Wood - all load carrying wood members of the scaffold, except the planks, shall be at minimum, #1 southern pine grade, #1 Douglas fir, or the equivalent.
            • The wood used can be used and reused provided the use has not damaged the lumber. New or used lumber that has been damaged or has deteriorated due to insects, decay, or chemical attack shall not be used.
          3. Scaffold enclosures - when partially or fully enclosed, precautions should be taken to assure the adequacy of the number, placement, and strength of ties attaching the scaffolding to the building because of the possibility of increased load conditions resulting from effects of weather and wind.
          4. Hazards Scaffolds - shall not be set up or used in the vicinity of power or other electrical lines or electrical conductors until such are insulated, de-energized (lock-out/tag-out) or otherwise rendered safe against electrical contact.
          5. Surface Hazards - all exposed surfaces shall be free of sharp edges, burrs, nails, or similar safety hazards.
          6. Vehicle Hazards - where moving vehicles are present, the scaffold area shall be marked with warning such as, but not limited to, flags, roped-off areas, barricades, fences, or a combination thereof.
          7. Securing Scaffolds - scaffolds shall be secured to a building or structure at intervals not exceeding 30' horizontally and 26' vertically
        5. Workers
          1. Overhead Protection - When persons are working on the scaffold and an overhead hazard exists, overhead protection shall be provided to the user and shall be positioned not more than 9' above the working platform of the scaffold.
            • Snow and ice on the scaffold must be removed and the planking sanded before the scaffold is to be used.
            • Tools, materials, and debris shall not be allowed to accumulate so as to create a hazard on scaffold platforms.
          2. Fall Protection - is not required when employees are inspecting, investigating, or assessing workplace conditions prior to the start of work or after work is completed.
            • Floor openings, including openings in the scaffold planking, 6' or more above the ground or floor shall be protected with a guardrail or safety net system. Personal Fall Arrest can be used as an alternative or in combination. For safety net requirements please see the definition section of this policy.
          3. Dangerous equipment located below or in close proximity to a scaffolding system shall be protected or guardrails shall be installed at the opening.
          4. Building side scaffolds - guardrails which are not required on the building side of a scaffold when the platform is less than 16" from the building itself.
          5. Controlled Access Zone (CAZ) - In areas where fall protection is not feasible or in areas where scaffolds make the work more dangerous (i.e. bricklaying), when reaching less than or equal to 10" below the working surface, the CAZ line prevents non-overhand bricklayers from inadvertently entering the area immediately adjacent to the fall hazard. The CAZ designates the area where overhand bricklaying may be performed without the use of guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems as fall protection.
            • If the overhand bricklayers must reach more than 10" below the working scaffold surface, the bricklayer must be protected by a guardrail, safety net, or other type of fall protection system.
          6. Safety Nets - if safety nets are selected as a means of fall protection, they shall be installed directly beneath the walk or working surfaces but shall not be greater than 30' below said walking or working area of the scaffold.
            • Area requirements for safety nets are outlined in the definition section.
            • The nets shall be installed so as to provide sufficient clearance beneath them to prevent contact with a surface or structure below if a fall occurs.
          7. Personal Fall Arrest Systems - Anchorage devices, connectors, or body harnesses which may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or suitable combination of these. The personal fall arrest system:
            • shall be inspected prior to use
            • shall not be attached to a guardrail system
            • shall not be attached to hoisting equipment unless the system prevents the employee from walking off the work surface
          8. Positioning Devices - devices that shall prohibit an employee from free-falling more than 2 feet.
          9. Worker Safety - Each worker shall be protected by a safety harness attached to a lifeline. The lifeline shall be securely attached to substantial members of the structure - not the scaffold - or to closely rigged lines which will safely suspend the worker in case of a fall.

        Additional Requirements For Specific Types of Scaffolds

        Tube and Coupler Scaffolds

        1. shall be erected by a competent and experienced person
        2. posts must be accurately spaced and erected on a suitable base and maintained plumb
        3. runners shall be erected along the length of the scaffold and shall be located on the inside and outside posts at even heights
          • runners must be interlocked to form continuous lengths and must be coupled to each post
          • bottom runners shall be located as close to the base as possible
          • runners shall not be placed more than 6 ½' vertically on center
          • runners can be used as guardrails and vice-versa
        4. bearers shall be installed transversely between posts and shall be securely coupled to the posts with the inboard coupler bearing on the running coupler
          • bearers shall not be placed more than 6 ½' vertically on center
        5. bracing across the width of the scaffold shall be installed at the ends of the scaffold at least at every 4th level vertically and repeated every 3rd set of posts horizontally
          • the bracing shall extend diagonally from the outer posts or runner at this level upward to the inner post or runner at the next level and building ties shall be installed adjacent to bracing
        6. secured scaffold - the running scaffold shall be secured to the wall or structure when the height exceeds 4 times the minimum scaffold base dimension - the 30' horizontal and 26' vertical rule shall apply
        Fabricated Tubular Frame Scaffolds
        1. tubular frame scaffolds including components such as braces, brackets, trusses, screw legs, ladders, etc. shall be designed to support their own weight and at least 4 times the maximum intended load
        2. frames or panels shall be properly braced by cross bracing or diagonal braces or both for securing vertical members together laterally and the cross braces shall be of sufficient length as to square and align vertical members - all brace connections shall be made secure
        3. Panel or frame legs shall be set on adjustable bases or plain bases on mud sills or other foundations adequate to support the maximum intended load and the scaffold must be plumb and leve
        4. tubular frame scaffolds over 125' must be designed by a licensed professional engineer
        Manually Propelled Mobile Scaffolds
        1. the height shall not exceed 4 times the minimum base dimension
        2. scaffolds shall be braced by cross, horizontal, or diagonal braces, by restrained platforms, or by other equivalent means - the erected scaffold must be level, square, and plumb
        3. the working platform must be fully decked
        4. casters shall have rubber or similar resilient tires with wheels having a minimum diameter of 5"
        5. all scaffold casters shall have a positive wheel lock or equivalent means to prevent movement and rotation while the scaffold is in place
        6. the lock must be engaged whenever there is a person on the scaffold
        7. caster stems must be secured in place to prevent them from falling out
        8. persons are not permitted to ride on the scaffolds while they are being moved/relocated
        9. all tools and materials must be secured before the scaffold is moved/relocated
        Outrigger Scaffolds
        1. shall extend not more than 6' beyond the face of the building
        2. the inboard end of the outrigger beams (measured from fulcrum point to the extreme point of support) shall be not less than 1.5 times the outboard end in length
        3. the sides shall be plumb
        4. the outrigger scaffold shall be prevented from tipping using the necessary ties and bracing
        5. outrigger scaffolds shall be designed by a professional registered engineer
        Ladder Type Scaffolds or Platforms
        1. the weight of the workers, planks, platforms, and other support equipment cannot exceed the sum of the rated capacity of the ladders
        2. the maximum height of a working platform for ladder scaffolds using ladder jacks shall not be more than 20' above the base of the ladder
          • the maximum height of the working surface, if not using the ladder jacks shall not be greater than 4 times the outside base width of the ladder unless guyed, tied off, or braced
        3. the foundation on which the ladders sit must be free of debris, water, or other slippery surface
        4. planks must be securely fastened to the supporting members to prevent tipping
        5. ladder jack scaffolds shall be limited to only one person
        Horse Scaffolds
        1. cannot be more than 2 tiers or 10' in height
        2. horses shall not be spaced more than 5' apart
        3. weak and defective equipment must be removed from service