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Image: OSHA

Understanding ladder jack scaffolding

October 29, 2017

Ladder jack scaffolding is used often in construction because it's inexpensive, portable, easy to put up and take down, and can fit in narrow places. To create a ladder jack scaffold, triangle-shaped brackets – known as ladder jacks – are attached to portable ladders, which are used on each side of a ladder jack scaffold to form a means of support for a platform, according to a fact sheet from OSHA.

The two main types of ladder jack bracket devices are side rail and two- or three-rung. Side rail ladder jacks are installed onto the railing and rungs of extension or single ladders. Two- or three-rung ladder jacks hook directly onto two or three ladder rungs.

Checklist

Before beginning work on a ladder jack scaffold, follow these tips from OSHA:

  • Look over the scaffold for damage, and ensure all parts are in good working order and the nuts are tightened.
  • If substitute pieces are needed, make sure they are not bent, cracked or damaged in any way.
  • When using two- or three-rung bracket jacks, ensure their rectangular brackets securely fit onto the ladder rungs.
  • When using side rail brackets, secure the upper round hooks and the lower brackets of the device onto the ladder’s side rails, then rest the brackets on the rungs and secure the platform gusset plate onto the adjustable notches at center.
  • Adjust the bracket jack so it is parallel to the ground to ensure you have a level platform.
  • If you find any part of the scaffold to be defective, tag it and remove it from service immediately.

Additionally, keep the area around the base of the ladder clear to prevent slips, trips and falls, and refrain from setting up a scaffold in busy areas, OSHA states. Secure the ladder with slip-resistant feet when on potentially slippery surfaces, and keep the platforms clear of any items. Practice extreme caution around electrical hazards, including power lines and energized electrical equipment.

Download the fact sheet.