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Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 264
Potseal Offline OP
The company I work for has been placing a heavy emphasis on safety over the past year. Obviously, that is good. The subject of rolling scaffold (bakers scaffold) has come up on the job and to my surprise my safety supervisor says that at 6 feet, for example, and no objects nearby to fall on it's considered safe practice to work off of without guard rails or fall protection because in Saskatchewan OH&S regulations state:

Safeguards, Storage, Warning Signs and Signals

(2) An employer or contractor shall ensure that workers use a fall protection system at a temporary or permanent work area where:
(a) a worker may fall three metres or more; or
(b) there is a possibility of injury if a worker falls less than three metres.

I find this type of reasoning strange. If you fall 6 feet onto even a clear concrete floor you will suffer an injury. In fact, one company in the city requires guard rails on rolling scaffold 100% of the time after a worker fell 6 feet onto his head and died. My safety supervisor knows rolling scaffold is called "The Widow Maker" for good reason and yet his policy is to go with the minimum requirement. OH&S regulations don't even state anything about falling onto objects just "possibility of injury". Yet, even my fall protection instructor used "falling onto rebar" as an example of the interpretation of that regulation. Where did that come from?...

I have to fill out an incident report every time I get a minor cut, I'm expected to report all "near misses", but I can work on "The Widow Maker" without fall protection or guard rails? I think we need to review our priorities here.

So what is your company's safety expectations when it comes to rolling scaffold?

Last edited by Potseal; 11/23/13 11:52 AM.

A malfunction at the junction
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Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 947
twh Offline
If a guard rail would make you more comfortable so you can work faster, your boss should get a guard rail. Guard rails are fairly inexpensive. I thought that was a no-brainer.

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 984
Likes: 1
I agree that "falling onto rebar" would likely result in injuries, but would they be more severe than falling on your head and breaking your neck on a clean concrete floor?

I think that the company's minimalist approach to safety is ripe for losing a lawsuit if someone gets hurt or (God forbid) killed.

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 368
If your boss owns the scaffolding, baker safety guards are not that expensive, I did a quick search and have seen some for around $100 on

If your company uses rental units, the few places I see that rent Baker rails, price them for about half the rental price of the actual scaffold unit.

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,273
In all my days I've never seen any tradesman using safety guards for Baker/ Perry scaffolds.

Instead I witness scaffold surfing -- constantly.

As for EC... they shun them -- preferring scissor lifts, instead.

Simply put, electricians all too often need to get really high -- and the roof slopes -- so adjustable height decides the issue.

The one time I used scaffolds -- a lot -- was as rolling 'office space.' I used them exclusively to lay out minor materials, EMT and fittings -- all at a sweet working height.

I gave up on using them in their intended fashion --- as my boys quickly demonstrated that they were prone to falling off. Too many can't tolerate the motion. It unbalances them and they either fall to their knees or fall off entirely. There's no way to predict who is going to be weak in the knees. It's kind of like sea-sickness, in that way.

BTW, the Chinese version has driven the American producers out of business. It's priced at $200 retail, hereabouts. That's about a fifth of the delivered American product. It's flaky enough that I use it strictly as a materials portage. I don't believe that it's designed to carry heavy Americans -- loaded down with sacks and tools.

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 368
I agree with Telsa about the use of scissor lifts in this trade. The only time I really see any scaffolding is putting in lights over stairs and that's the plank and different different height frame style.

There is odd location where a lift can't get in. Had a friends company doing a re-lamp of 1960's church which was split level in the entry, and got a lift stuck going down the stairs to the main level. He had to sent it back to the rental company, and order normal scaffolding to re-lamp all the lights in the 2 story worship area.

I got a call asking if I could come by while the flatbed was still there, and maybe if we had 10 bodies we could have taken it in on its side and then tipped it back upright in the sanctuary. With 4 bodies no way was it being carried in.

Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 264
Potseal Offline OP
Interesting that you mention scissor lifts. According to Saskatchewan OH&S regulations as soon as I step on a scissor lift, which puts me at about 5' off the ground, I have to be wearing a safety harness and tied off. Obviously, one can assume at some point that I'll be moving and elevated higher. But I could simply work off the scissor lift without ever moving it or elevating higher. Maybe someone else moved it (while I stood nearby) and the non-elevated platform is a convenient height to work from. Yet according to Sask. OH&S regulations I can stand on a 6' high rolling scaffold without guard rails or safety harness?

Thanks for all the comments. Interesting to hear that the rolling scaffold's inherent danger is universally understood and recognized when used without fall protection or guard rails.

A malfunction at the junction
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,335
I just spent 2 days on a widow maker. I use the hand rails when I feel uncomfortable working without it. Was changing out lights on a long running ramps and weren't sure about a scissor lift was going to work. It was easy to level the platform. Giving the set up, we had to break down the top tier to move it but it was quick and easy to do with my helper.

"Live Awesome!" - Kevin Carosa
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,298
Likes: 6
Scissor lifts are the way to go, when they can be used.

I've done my share of 'scaffold surfing' and almost splashed down, but saved by two guys walking by. Surfing in other than a pristine clean floor is not a good thing.

I agree with Tesla, a Baker scaffold makes a great work platform as long as you are standing on the ground.

Joined: May 2018
Posts: 2
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