Narrow Frame Scaffolds

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Narrow frame scaffolds, also known as Baker/Perry scaffolds, are among the most popular pieces of construction equipment. Due to their versatility, many contractors use them instead of ladders because they allow workers to maintain their balance and work more easily from the platform.

What is a narrow frame scaffold?

A narrow frame scaffold has wheels and is often used as a mobile scaffold with the end frame measuring three feet or less in width. Designed to be easily moved, they are used for operations such as painting, drywall installation, plastering, and other jobs where workers must frequently change position. Scaffolds can be adapted to stairs, ramps, and other uneven surfaces.

In some instances, scaffolds may be a better and safer choice than ladders.

Minimizing hazards

Some hazards associated with narrow frame scaffolds can lead to personal injury or death. They include:

  • Falls from an elevated level.
  • Tip-overs.
  • Electric shocks.
  • Structural failures (collapse).

Training workers in scaffold safety

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace.

All training must be conducted in a manner and language that the worker is able to understand.

Only trained and authorized persons should be allowed to use a scaffold. This training must be provided by a qualified person who recognizes the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used and understands the procedures to control or minimize those hazards. Training must include how to safely:

  • Use the scaffold and determine the maximum load limits when handling materials.
  • Recognize and avoid scaffolding hazards, such as electric shock, falls from heights, and being struck by falling objects.
  • Erect, inspect, move, operate, maintain, and repair scaffolds.

Employers must ensure the following:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s allowable load for the casters, scaffold components, and platforms. Use recommended bracing to ensure a rigid and structurally sound scaffold.
  • Assess the work area, site conditions, and work to be performed.
  • Conduct a preoperation inspection to verify all scaffold components are functioning properly and/or are correctly assembled.
  • Keep the platform free from tripping hazards, such as hand tools, equipment, or materials.
  • Lock scaffold wheels with positive wheel and/or wheel and swivel locks to prevent movement while in use.
  • Use guardrails, which include top rails, mid-rails, and toe boards or fall protection at working platform heights of 10 feet or higher.
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from energized power lines.
  • If outriggers are installed, deploy installed outriggers on both sides of the scaffold. All locking pins must be engaged before using the scaffold.

Employers must ensure workers have been effectively trained:

  • Not to stand on the guardrail or use any components of the scaffold or other items (i.e., stepladders, buckets, boxes, barrels, etc.) inside the scaffold to gain additional standing height.
  • Not to pull themselves from one location to another while standing on the platform.
  • Not to use a scaffold if it is incomplete, broken, or has missing or ill-fitting parts that need replacement. Contact the employer immediately.
  • Not to move the scaffold with worker(s) on the scaffold when:
    • The worker(s) on the scaffold is unaware of the move and/or the surface under the scaffold is not within three degrees of level and free of pits, holes, or obstructions.
    • The worker is on any part of the scaffold that extends outward beyond the wheels, casters, or other supports.
    • Manual force is not being applied as close to the base as practicable. Manual force must be applied not more than five feet above the supporting surface (1926.452(w)(3)).
    • The height to base width ratio of the scaffold during movement is greater than two to one, unless the scaffold is designed and constructed to meet or exceed nationally recognized stability test requirements, such as ANSI/SIA A92.5 and A92.6) (1926.452(w)(6)(ii).


Employers must retrain employees when inadequacies are observed, changes in worksite conditions occur, or when it is believed that an employee lacks the skill or understanding needed for safe work involving the erection, use, or dismantling of the scaffold.

KEMI does not assume liability for the content of information contained herein. Safety and health remain your responsibility. This information is to be used for informational purposes only and not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for proper training, supervision or manufacturers’ instructions/recommendations. KEMI, by publication of this information, does not assume liability for damage or injury arising from reliance upon it. Compliance with this information is not a guarantee or warranty that you will be in conformity with any laws or regulations nor does it ensure the absolute safety of any person, place or object, including, but not limited to, you, your occupation, employees, customers or place of business.