There are many types of working surfaces, equipment, and platforms used in construction that fall into the category of “Scaffolding”. For the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on a very specific style called “Bakers Scaffold” also known as Rolling, Adjustable, Mobile, Narrow Frame, or Perry Scaffolds. This is one of the most common units found on a construction site especially for interior finish applications. They are very useful for continuous overhead work like painting and drywall, and can fit through doors, hallways, and stairwells very easily.
Although helpful, they do expose users to fall hazards. Because they are used indoor people are often complacent about the height and attention to setup, most injuries occur from falling off or tipping the scaffolding. Here are some tips for safe use of Baker Scaffolding.
Height to Width Ratio
Free standing scaffolding exceeding a height 4x the minimum base width must be restrained from tipping.
- Bakers Scaffolding is 29” wide x 71” Tall. (29” x 4 = 116” max unrestrained height)
- So once you have the second section stacked on and have the working plank over 116” from the floor, you need to install the outriggers or tie off to a stable structure.
To help prevent tipping, use outriggers at the base of the unit to increase the width or tie the unit to a stable structure like the building itself.
Wheels vs Feet
When setting up on any surface over 3% grade or on stairways, the wheels should be removed and replaced with adjustable base plates to create a level working platform.
Platforms 10’ above the ground and higher will require fall protection. The best means of fall protection on scaffolding is a guard rail system, with top and middle rail, and toe boards. The top and mid rails will protect people from falling off the platform, while the toe board is meant to prevent tools or materials from falling onto people below. Most manufactures have guard rail accessories that easily attach to the structures.
Guard rails are required on all open sides of the working platform. If a side left open for the work being done, it should be no more that 14″ from the wall surface.
The cross bracing can be used as the mid rail if the cross is between 20-30″ from the platform.
When guardrails are unavailable or not feasible to install, a Personal Fall Arrest System should be used.
- Find an anchor point on the building structure that will hold you if the scaffolding fails.
- Anchor points must be capable of supporting 5,000 lbs
Follow Manufacture Specs
Never mix and match scaffolding from different manufactures. They use different dimensions and materials, jamming pieces together or worse having a loose fit that could collapse.
It is also important to mind the weight rating of the unit, with respect to the people, materials, and tools as the combined weight.
Baker Scaffolding is similar to using a ladder in that just about anyone can use them. Because of their small size they are often misused and people are complacent about the height. Thoughts like “I’ve jumped from trees higher than this” have no place on scaffolding. When you are focused on the work, you are not focused on the edges and how you’ll land on your feet, so odds are you wont. Take the time and effort to set up correctly and inspect the pieces for damages each time, there is comfort in the confidence.
Questions for you:
- Does your scaffold have guardrails, outriggers, or adjustable feet?
- Are there any damaged or missing parts?
- How often are you working over 2 sections tall?