inspectors looking up at construction site scaffoldingAccording to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 65 percent of construction workers spend at least some of their time on scaffolding. Given that scaffolding problems are the third most-cited OSHA violation, it’s no wonder that many construction site injury accidents and fatalities involve scaffolding.

We take a look at the various construction jobs that require scaffolding use and how safety violations put them at risk of serious injury. Our experienced New York and New Jersey construction injury lawyers have a record of success with scaffolding accidents.

Construction Jobs Requiring Crews to Work on Scaffolding

Scaffolding is a crucial component of construction sites, enabling workers to access elevated areas, perform tasks efficiently, and ensure safety. Types of jobs that often require scaffolding work include the following:

  • High-rise construction. Constructing skyscrapers and tall buildings demands specialized skills in scaffolding. Workers involved in high-rise construction tasks such as welding, concrete pouring, and window installation rely on scaffolding to access different levels safely.
  • Bridge construction. Bridges, whether over rivers or highways, often require workers to operate at considerable heights. Scaffolding is used for tasks such as bridge deck installation, structural repairs, and painting.
  • Roofing. Roofing projects, whether for new construction or repairs, often require workers to move seamlessly across different sections of a roof. Scaffolding provides a stable platform for roofers to carry out tasks like shingle installation, repairs, and gutter maintenance.
  • Industrial construction. The construction of commercial and industrial sites, such as manufacturing facilities, power plants, and stadiums, often involves working at extreme heights. Scaffolding is essential for a variety of workers on the site.
  • Renovation and remodeling. Renovation projects, whether for residential or commercial buildings, often require workers to access elevated areas for tasks like wall demolition, window replacement, or structural modifications.
  • Shipyard construction. Building and maintaining ships necessitate working on scaffolding for tasks such as welding, painting, and assembly. Shipyard workers must be skilled in assembling scaffolding structures that can accommodate the unique shapes and sizes of various vessels.

Working on scaffolding is a key requirement for a variety of construction jobs and, as a result, is a common source of construction site accidents and injuries.

New York Scaffolding Safety Law

12 NYCRR Section 23.5 has specific requirements for how scaffolding may be used in New York construction and demolition projects. All scaffolding must:

  • Have sound and rigid footings or anchorings that can support the maximum load
  • Have adequate bracing and be constructed to withstand four times the maximum weight
  • Be properly loaded that do not exceed the maximum pounds per square foot
  • Have scaffold planks that are properly constructed
  • Be kept in good maintenance and repair
  • Be made of stress-grade lumber (if lumber is used in the scaffold)
  • Be erected and removed under the supervision of a designated person
  • Have appropriate overhead protection
  • Have appropriate safety railings

Additional safety regulations exist for specific types of scaffolding including:

  • Metal scaffolds (§ 23-5.3)
  • Tubular welded frame scaffolds (§ 23-5.4)
  • Tube and coupler metal scaffolds (§ 23-5.5)
  • Pole scaffolds (§ 23-5.6)
  • Outrigger scaffolds (§ 23-5.7)
  • Suspended scaffolds (§ 23-5.8)
  • Two-point suspension scaffolds (§ 23-5.9)
  • Multiple-point suspension scaffolds (§ 23-5.10)
  • Needle beam scaffolds (§ 23-5.11)
  • Horse scaffolds (§ 23-5.12)
  • Carpenters’ portable bracket scaffolds (§ 23-5.13)
  • Bricklayers’ square scaffolds (§ 23-5.14)
  • Lean-to scaffolds (§ 23-5.15)
  • Trestle and extension trestle ladder scaffolds (§ 23-5.16)
  • Ladder jack scaffolds (§ 23-5.17)
  • Manually-propelled mobile scaffolds (§ 23-5.18)
  • Elevator scaffold jacks (§ 23-5.19)
  • Window jacks ((§ 23-5.20)
  • Boatswain’s chairs (§ 23-5.21)
  • Stilts (§ 23-5.22)

OSHA Safety Requirements for Scaffolding Work

OSHA has established comprehensive safety requirements for working on scaffolding to ensure the well-being of construction workers, including the following:

Scaffold Design and Construction

  • Scaffolds must be designed, constructed, and erected by qualified personnel.
  • Scaffold components must be capable of supporting their own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load.

Assembly and Disassembly

  • Scaffolds should be assembled and disassembled under the supervision of competent personnel.
  • Workers must follow manufacturer guidelines and OSHA regulations during assembly and disassembly.

Platform Requirements

  • Scaffold platforms must be fully planked and secured to prevent displacement.
  • Gaps between planks should be no more than one inch wide unless a guardrail is installed.

Guardrails and Fall Protection

  • Guardrails must be installed along all open sides and ends of scaffolds.
  • Personal fall arrest systems, such as harnesses and lanyards, are required for workers on scaffolds higher than ten feet.

Access to Scaffolds

  • Safe access to scaffolds must be provided, typically through ladders or stair towers.
  • Climbing on cross-braces is prohibited as a means of access.

Stability and Bracing

  • Scaffolds must be plumb, level, and properly braced to prevent tipping.
  • Outrigger systems or counterweights are necessary for stability, especially for mobile scaffolds.


  • A competent person must inspect scaffolds before each work shift and after any event that could affect their structural integrity.
  • Damaged or weakened components must be immediately replaced.


  • Workers must be trained in the proper use of scaffolds, including recognizing hazards and understanding safety procedures.
  • Competent persons should have the knowledge and experience to oversee scaffold activities.

Electrical Hazards

  • Scaffolds should be kept at least ten feet away from power lines to prevent electrical hazards.

Weather Conditions

  • Scaffolds should not be used during adverse weather conditions, such as high winds, snow, or icy surfaces.

Fall Protection Training

  • Workers must be trained in fall protection measures, including the use of personal protective equipment, guardrails, and safety nets.

Compliance with these OSHA safety requirements is crucial for creating a secure working environment on scaffolds and reducing the risk of accidents on a construction site. If your employer failed to adhere to safety standards and you were injured in a fall as a result, you need a skilled construction accident legal team on your side.

Timothy F. Schweitzer
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Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.
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