Scaffolds Training Guide

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Labor Occupational Health Program

Summary Statement

A guided discussion through hazards of scaffolds, a set of questions to use for discussion and a sign-off form.Part of a collection. Click on the 'collection' button to access the other items.

The height specified here applies to California but does not meet the standard set by federal OSHA.

These tailgate/toolbox talks were developed for use under California OSHA regulations. The complete set is available from the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley. For ordering information, visit the website ( The American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has adapted these talks to apply to federal OSHA regulations. To contact ACGIH, visit its web site (

Before you begin the meeting...
  • Does this topic relate to the work the crew is doing? If not, choose another topic.
  • Did you read this Training Guide and fill in the blanks where thePencil Icon appears? (To find the information you need, look over the Safety Walkaround Checklist for this topic.)
  • Did you locate a place to hold this meeting with a scaffold nearby?

Begin: Most scaffold injuries happen because the scaffold itself is unsafe. Scaffolds are often set up by another contractor, so we don't have as much control over them as we would like. But no matter who sets up the scaffold, don't work on it if you think there's a problem. Report it to a foreman or supervisor.

Scaffolds are strictly regulated, and today we'll look at some of the rules for building a safe scaffold and working on it safely. Keep in mind that you should never use unstable objects like stilts, bricks, blocks, or loose tile as a substitute for a scaffold. And some kinds of scaffolds are outlawed—like shore scaffolds, lean-to scaffolds, and jack scaffolds. Don't take a chance on a scaffold that won't do the job!

You or a crew member may want to add a personal story about scaffolds.

Next, discuss with the crew where scaffolds will be used at this particular job site:

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After each question, give the crew time to suggest possible answers. Use the information following each question to add points that no one mentions.

1. When and where do you need to use a scaffold?

  • When there is no solid construction (at least 20 inches wide) to stand on, and
  • When the work can't be done safely while standing on a ladder.

2. When a scaffold is built or dismantled, Cal/OSHA says that a qualified person must supervise. What does that person do?

  • Advises on safety requirements.
  • Inspects materials and construction methods used.
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Name of qualified person:_______________________________

3. According to Cal/OSHA, certain types of scaffolds must be designed by a registered civil engineer. Do you know which types?

  • Wooden pole scaffolds (over 60 feet).
  • Tube and coupler scaffolds (over 125 feet).
  • Tubular welded scaffolds (over 125 feet).

4. Cal/OSHA says that scaffolds must be built to meet certain standards. Do you know any of the "specs" for scaffolds?

Using a nearby scaffold, demonstrate the requirements below.

  • A Cal/OSHA permit is required to erect a scaffold more than 36 feet high (3 stories).
  • If a scaffold is 71/2 feet or higher, it must have standard guardrails on its open sides and ends. (Guardrails are covered in more detail in a separate Training Guide.)
  • If people work or pass below, the scaffold must have toeboards at least 4 inches high to keep tools and debris from falling on them.
  • The scaffold must be tied off, using a double wrap of No. 12 wire. Begin tying off as the scaffold is built. Improper tying off is one of the main reasons for scaffold accidents.

5. Do you know any of the requirements for platforms on a scaffold?

Using a nearby scaffold, demonstrate the requirements below.

  • They must be planked solid, without openings or gaps. (Standard planking is 2"x10".)
  • They must be able to support the intended load.
  • They must not slope of be slippery
  • If work is done above the platform, the platform must be protected from falling objects.

6. Any special rules for rolling scaffolds?

  • Always lock or block the wheels before anyone gets on.
  • After you move a rolling scaffold, adjust it to make sure it's still plump. Never extend adjusting screws all the way.
  • Always get off before the scaffold is moved, even if only a few feet.
  • Use horizontal cross bracing to prevent skew.

7. Is it OK for heavy and light trades to work from the same scaffold?

  • Light trades may work from heavy trade scaffolds.
  • Heavy trades may not work from light trade scaffolds.


Explain: Most of the safety measures we've talked about are required by Cal/OSHA. We have to take these precautions -- it's's the law. I have a Checklist of the Cal/OSHA regulations on scaffolds. If you'd like to know more, see me after the meeting.


(Only if applicable.) Besides the Cal/OSHA regulations, we have some additional company rules about scaffolds.

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Discuss company rules:______________________________



Ask: Do you have any other concerns about scaffolds? Do you see any problems on our job? (Let the steward answer first, if there is one.)

What about other jobs you've worked on? Have you had any experience with scaffolds that might help us work safer on this job?

Sign Off Form

Date Prepared:_________________________ By:____________________
Project Name/No.______________________ Location:_______________
Printed Name