Injuries on scaffolds are unfortunately common on construction sites. In addition to creating specific legislation to prevent scaffold injuries, New York has set provisions to protect employees working at height on different types of scaffolds—and employers who fail to follow them could be liable for a worker’s medical bills and pain and suffering damages.

Safety Guidelines for Workers on Pole Scaffolds Under the New York 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 Corner of Pole Scaffoldingrules 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. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. Tit. 12 § 23-5.6 sets forth the following guidelines for pole scaffolds:


All foot ends of poles used in these scaffolds must rest on firm footing and be secured against lateral movement by cleats, nails, or other effective means. Any place wood poles are spliced, the ends must be square and the upper sections must rest squarely on the lower sections. Wood splicing pieces must be at least three feet in length, must be provided on at least two adjacent sides, must overlap the abutting ends by an equal distance, and have a combined cross-sectional area of at least 50 percent of the cross-sectional area of the pole.


All wood putlogs must be reinforced with a substantial steel strip that is secured to the lower edge of the putlog throughout its entire length.


Pole scaffolds must be braced or attached to the building to prevent movement of the scaffold away from the structure. Diagonal bracing must also be provided to prevent the poles from moving in a direction parallel to the wall of the structure, which must be installed so that every spliced section of every pole is connected with the adjacent poles.


The ends of all braces and horizontal wood supporting members must overlap the nail fastenings to a degree that prevents the ends of such members from splitting. Any place where bearers rest on a wall of a structure, the length of the bearing surfaces on such wall must be at least four inches. These bearers must rest on a firm and level surface. Any place where ledgers lap each other, bearing blocks must be attached to the poles to support such ledgers. Ledgers shall be continuous from pole to pole and may not be spliced between poles.


Any plank lapped on a pole scaffold must lap each plank end support by at least 12 inches. If the ends of planks on a pole scaffold abut each other to form a flush floor, the butt joints must be at the center lines of the poles and the abutted ends must rest on separate bearers. The ends of the planks must be secured and intermediate beams must be provided where necessary to prevent deflection and dislodgment.

Pole Scaffold Erection and Removal

If a new working level is required, the existing platform must be left undisturbed until the new working level is framed. The scaffold may be abandoned with the progress of the work, but all supporting members must be left intact. When a pole scaffold is dismantled, the sequence of the removal of members shall be in reverse of that used in the erection of such scaffold.

Specification Requirements for Pole Scaffolds

Any wood pole scaffold over 80 feet in height above the ground or equivalent surface must be designed by a professional engineer licensed to practice in the State of New York and constructed and maintained in accordance with such design. Wood pole scaffolds 80 feet or less in height above the ground or equivalent surface must be constructed to the specifications required for light-duty, medium-duty, or heavy-duty work. The wood of any such scaffold shall be treated to make it incombustible as defined in the Industrial Code.

Let Us Advise You After After a Scaffold Injury on a Construction Site

There are many different safety regulations that must be followed to the letter to prevent injuries on construction sites. If you or someone you love suffered an injury on a scaffold, the New York construction injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can investigate the circumstances and see if your employer should have done more to keep you safe.

Contact us today at (800) 362-9329 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.