Construction Safety: Baker Scaffolds Expert Overview

Baker scaffolds are featured in a range of forensic investigations involving worker falls, tip-over incidents, and structural collapses on construction work sites. In this article, Civil Engineer & Construction Safety Expert, Jeffrey Tedder, discusses the anatomy of a baker scaffold, proper assembly, common hazards, and relevant safety standards.

Construction Safety Baker Scaffold Expert Witness

Construction Safety: Baker Scaffolds

Applications

Baker scaffolds are modular, manually propelled mobile scaffold platforms commonly used on construction sites for performing overhead and elevated work tasks. They are particularly useful when working inside buildings to access ceilings or elevated walls.

When properly erected they provide a stable work platform from which work can be performed over larger areas as compared to working from ladders which require repeated repositioning. Baker scaffolds also allow workers to handle larger materials that cannot be safely handled while working from a ladder. This type of scaffold is quickly assembled, easily moved using the integrated wheels at the base of the scaffold and offer variable platform height adjustment.

Baker scaffolds are small relative to other types of scaffolds commonly used on construction sites with nominal working platform dimensions of 6 feet (length) by 30 inches (width). Working platform height is limited to between 5 and 6 feet for a single baker scaffold frame with many manufacturers offering systems that can be stacked for added reach. Similar to other types of scaffolding used in construction, baker scaffolds can present potential safety hazards to workers if not properly set up and utilized.

Components

A typical baker scaffold is configured with a single level or tier consisting of a wood work platform, typically plywood with metal edges, which is placed on and supported by metal side braces extending along the longer edge of the platform and supported by frames at the ends and of the scaffold.

The end frames are fabricated with horizontal bars for stability and to facilitate access to the work platform and are commonly outfitted with locking casters at the base to facilitate repositioning of the scaffold. Casters should be lockable to prevent the scaffold from inadvertent movement while workers are working from the platform.

Figure 1: Basic Baker Scaffold Setup

Figure 2: Additional Components

Baker scaffolds can, and should, be supplied with “guardrails” or safety railings when workers are required to work from heights which exceed those established by OSHA for fall protection (refer to OSHA guidelines for specific industry and jurisdictional requirements). 

Most systems require the installation of “outriggers” when end frames are stacked to gain additional working elevation. The outriggers are designed to stabilize the scaffold by increasing the footprint of the base. 

Setup

When assembling a baker scaffolding system it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. In general a baker scaffold is assembled from the ground up by first installing the casters to the end frames, casters should be outfitted with retention devices to secure each of the wheels to the end frames. 

The two side braces are then attached to the end frames at the desired height (side braces should be outfitted with spring loaded locking pins to hold them in place). Once the frame is assemble, the work platform is set in place on the side rails and locked into place with spring loaded latching pins.

It is vitally important that components from multiple manufacturers not be mixed in the assembly of a baker scaffold system. These scaffolds are designed as engineered systems and must be assembled per the manufacturer’s directions using components designed and supplied for the specific system being used.

Figure 3: Multi-Level/Stacked Scaffold Components

Example of a Stacked Scaffold.

Industry Standards

Like all scaffolding systems used in construction, baker scaffolds present potential safety hazards to the workers working from them. Hazards include falls from an elevated level, scaffolds tipping over, and scaffold failures or collapse. Injuries resulting from exposure to these hazards can be serious.

Safety standards for the erection, use, and inspection of baker scaffolds are well established in the construction industry and are addressed by OSHA 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart L, ANSI standard A10.8, and the Scaffold & Access Industry Association (SAIA). 

Construction industry safety standards require that workers on construction sites utilizing scaffolds have basic training in recognizing common jobsite hazards, such as falls, as well as additional training related to the particular type of scaffolding being used. 

Scaffolds must be assembled and utilized by or under the direct supervision of a qualified competent person with appropriate training or experience with the type of scaffolding being used. General contractors overseeing work on construction sites where scaffolds are being used also have responsibility for monitoring their safe use.

Safety Hazards

Falls from a scaffold are particularly hazardous for workers. Construction industry safety standards (including OSHA regulations and ANSI standards) require that workers on scaffolding, working at a height of 10 feet or more, be protected with fall protection (this is a minimum standard, many jurisdictions and companies have more stringent requirements). 

Fall protection can consist of either a personal fall arrest system (PFAS), such as a safety harness with a lanyard attached to a hanging lifeline, or substantial guardrails on all open sides of the scaffold. It should be noted that the implementation of a personal fall arrest system requires an anchorage point capable of supporting at least 5,000 lb. per employee, tie-off to the scaffolding itself is strictly prohibited. 

Manufacturers of baker scaffolds often require that guardrails be installed on upper work platforms whenever the baker scaffolds are stacked.

Regarding baker scaffold stability, it is prohibited for the height of the work platform to exceed four times the narrow dimension of that scaffolding (for typical width of 30 inches the maximum height would be 10 feet). When the work platform for baker scaffold exceeds 10 feet, industry standards require that outriggers be installed to widen the base to increase the stability of the system. 

Manufacturers of baker scaffolding often require that outriggers be installed whenever the baker scaffolds are stacked, or a second level or tier with an upper work platform is used, which means that outriggers would be required with a work platform at a height of about 6 feet or more.

Industry standards also address other hazards associated with baker scaffolding use including: the securement of casters to the frame, caster locking mechanism requirements, prohibition of movement of baker scaffolding when in use, and suitable ground conditions for use. 

Construction Safety Investigations

The use of baker scaffolding in construction can present potential safety hazards to workers if they are not properly erected and utilized. These hazards include falls from an elevated level, scaffolds tipping over, and scaffold failures or collapses which can result in workers becoming seriously injured if proper precautions are not taken to train and protect those workers.

The Construction Safety experts at Robson Forensic have worked at every level within the industry, and have done the work central to your case. They can testify regarding the hazards, risks, and responsibilities in the construction industry.

For more information, submit an inquiry or call us at 800.813.6736.

Featured Expert

Jeffrey A. Tedder, Civil Engineer & Construction Safety Expert

Jeffrey A. Tedder, P.E.

Civil Engineer & Construction Safety Expert
Jeffrey Tedder is a Civil Engineer with nearly 20 years of professional construction and engineering experience. His experience in complex, industrial construction where all trades are involved has… read more.

Related

View All Articles

Construction Scaffolding Hazards & Injury Prevention

By Brent R. Leisenring
Expert Article

This document provides an introduction to some of the requirements intended to prevent scaffold related injuries. Construction Scaffold Hazards About 65% of all construction workers use scaffolding in…

OSHA Construction Fall Protection - Reference Guide

By Brent R. Leisenring
Expert Article

The Construction Safety Experts at Robson Forensic have compiled the OSHA Fall Protection Reference Guide. This guide covers the construction fall protection standards that are most commonly cited in…

Construction Fall Protection Equipment

By J. David Gardner
Expert Article

Falls consistently represent the number one cause of construction worker fatalities in the United States. While there are many causes of fall incidents and several prevention strategies, this article…