Scaffolds are vital to the construction of buildings nationwide, but the sheer number of construction projects in New York City requires thousands of scaffolds every day. To keep employees safe when working at height, the New York Industrial Code has specific provisions to ensure the safety of workers on metal scaffolds.

Safety Provisions for Metal Scaffolds Under the NY Industrial Code

NY Labor Law 241 requires owners and contractors to make construction sites as safe as possible for workers. Under Section 241(6), owners and contractors must comply with any Construction Workers Standing on a Scaffoldrules made by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor to carry out the provisions of the law.

The Department of Labor has created specific construction safety rules in Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code to protect people employed in construction, demolition, or excavation work. Part 23-5.3 dictates how employers should protect employees working on metal scaffolds.

N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 12 § 23-5.3 imposes the following requirements on all non-mobile scaffolds constructed of metal:

  • Special approval. Any metal scaffold higher than 125 feet above the ground erected after June 1, 1972, may not be used until such scaffold has been granted special approval.
  • Strength. The total of live and dead loads imposed on any scaffold assembly shall not exceed one-quarter of the ultimate test-proved strength of the members.
  • Safety railings. Code-compliant safety railings must be constructed and installed on every metal scaffold.
  • Access. Metal scaffold platform levels more than two feet above or below the ground, grade, floor, or other equivalent level must have access to and egress from such a level via ladders, stairs, or ramps.
  • Footings. Metal scaffold footings must be sound, rigid, and capable of supporting the maximum design loads of the scaffold without settlement or deformation. All footings must be secure against movement in any direction and have sufficient area to properly transfer the scaffolds' vertical post or end frame loads to the ground without causing any unsafe conditions. Tubular ends of posts and legs of end frames in contact with the footings must have metal base plates of at least 16 square inches and one-eighth inch thickness.
  • Jacks. If the supporting surface of a metal scaffold is not level, screw jacks or adjustment jacks must be used to support the scaffold's tubular posts or end frames so that the scaffold platform bearers are level. These jacks must be positioned so that the threaded sections do not extend beyond the frames or parts more than 12 inches.
  • Tie-ins. Metal scaffolds must be securely tied into the building or other structure at intervals not to exceed 30 feet horizontally and 26 feet vertically. No scaffold may be secured to a window cleaners' anchor.
  • Minimum load support. Metal scaffolds must support the dead loads, such as platforms, frames, and safety railings, in addition to applicable live loads. Metal scaffolds may not be designed or constructed to support uniform live loads of less than:
    • 25 pounds per square foot in light-duty scaffolds
    • 50 pounds per square foot in medium-duty scaffolds
    • 75 pounds per square foot in heavy-duty scaffolds
  • Job-specific load support. Metal scaffolds designed and constructed for particular types of work must be able to support the following uniformly distributed live loads:
    • 75 pounds per square foot (stonemasons)
    • 50 pounds per square foot (bricklayers)
    • 50 pounds per square foot (stucco applicators)
    • 50 pounds per square foot (lathers and plasterers)
    • 25 pounds per square foot (carpenters)
    • 25 pounds per square foot (stone setters with no stone on the scaffold)
    • 25 pounds per square foot (miscellaneous with no material on scaffold)

Let Us Help You After a Construction Injury

If you or someone you love was injured in a scaffold accident, the New York construction injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer could help you get the payment you deserve. Contact us today at 800-3-MAYDAY to discuss your next steps or learn more about your rights in our FREE guide, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You're Not Alone.


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