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Scaffold Safety: Loading Capacity Limits

Scaffold Safety | January 17, 2019

Taking the time to understand the meaning of loading capacity limits and why they are important can help ensure that your workers are following proper scaffold safety measures. At United Scaffold Supply, we understand how important it is to create the safest possible work environment. That is why we offer a range of safety supplies and safety training services.

How Much Weight Can Scaffolding Hold?

While scaffolding and scaffold components are often capable of supporting their own weight and about four times the maximum intended load (in pounds per square foot), it is important to ensure that the scaffold is never loaded more than its rated load capacity. The overall load capacity will vary from scaffold to scaffold and will be determined by data supplied by the manufacturer or engineer.

To determine the maximum intended load based on a scaffold’s load capacity, you should total the weight of all:

  • Persons
  • Equipment
  • Tools
  • Materials
  • Transmitted loads
  • Other loads

One of the easiest ways to tell if a scaffold is overloaded is the deflection method in which all platforms, planks, or decking cannot deflect more than 1/60 of the span when loaded. This can easily be measured through the use of a tape measure and straight edge.

The Dangers of Overloading Scaffolding

Even though it might be tempting to ignore the loading capacity of scaffolding or floors and roofs under construction in order to save time and hassle, the consequences of ignoring loading capacity limits can end up costing you more time and money in the long run. Scaffolding that is overloaded can lead to workers falling and becoming injured or the scaffolding crumbling under the weight.

To help prevent overloading accidents, workers should also avoid working on scaffolding covered in snow, as it can be hard to accurately determine the added weight. Scaffolding should also be kept clear of all debris, including scrap material, boxes, chairs, cans, or other items that could potentially cause an accident.

How to Confirm Capacity Prior to Loading

Similar to loading roofs, floors, and parking garages under construction, the engineer of record should be contacted to confirm the overall load capacity prior to loading. All scaffolding should also be inspected before each shift to ensure that the overall integrity of the scaffold is safe for use.

If you are unsure about the load capacity of your particular scaffolding and are unable to contact the engineer of record, reputable structural engineers, such as the team from Bogdonov Pao Associates LTD., can provide information and assistance in determining the correct load capacity.

To learn more about loading capacity limits and scaffold safety, or if you are interested in one of our scaffolding products or services, please contact United Scaffold Supply at 1-866-820-6341 or by filling out a contact form on our website.