A Guide to Scaffolding Height Requirements

Scaffolding is necessary for tasks performed at heights exceeding 4 feet above ground level and 6 feet for construction projects. Safety equipment is also essential.
June 14, 2024 by
A Guide to Scaffolding Height Requirements
SP Group Global Ltd

Construction works that involve workers operating off the ground and exposing them to fall hazards are classified as working at height. Scaffolding is often used for support, but at what height is such a structure required? In this guide, we answer that question and more — keep reading.

Why Are There Height Limits in Scaffolding?

Height limits in scaffolding are set for workers’ safety and structural stability. Such restrictions also help maintain compliance with safety regulations and standards. Following this ensures that the scaffold is used correctly and safely in construction projects.

If these limits are exceeded or not followed, the risk of structural collapse and fall is highly likely. Both can result in serious injuries, fatalities, and potential damage to nearby property. Non-compliance can also lead to legal action, fines, and penalties for the responsible parties.

Overall, height limits exist for safety and the success of construction operations.

At What Height Is Scaffolding Required?

Scaffolding must be used for tasks performed more than 4 feet above a lower level. This requirement increases to 6 feet for construction works, such as bricklaying, roof work, and siding installation. It applies to all types of scaffolding, provided they are set up correctly and maintained throughout the project.

It’s also important to note that all workers operating at heights should undergo training to prevent accidents and maintain a safe work environment. Read our guide to ‘Scaffolding Safety Requirements You Need to Know’ to learn more.

Scaffolding Safety Equipment Needed for Working at Height

The scaffolding height requirement begins at 4 feet above ground level, and as you go higher, the risks of hazards increase. That’s why wearing anti-fall personal protective equipment (PPE) is mandated by safety regulations. 

Workers must wear hard hats, fall arrest harnesses, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear, gloves, and eye and ear protection. These are all essential in keeping everyone well-protected and safe from accidents.

When using harnesses and other fall arrest systems, calculate the minimum vertical clearance to prevent injuries if a worker falls. You can figure this out using the following formula:

Lanyard length + fully activated energy absorber + height from feet to harness attachment point + extra safety clearance = minimum vertical clearance.

For instance:

2 meters lanyard length + 1.75 meters energy absorber + 2 meters body height + 1 meter safety = 6.75 meters.

The Work at Height Act 2005 outlines key safety measures for workers when working at heights:

  • Minimise working at height whenever possible.
  • When unavoidable, use appropriate safety equipment.
  • Do as much work from ground level as possible.
  • Provide safe access to and from elevated areas.
  • Ensure safety equipment is sturdy, stable, compliant with regulations, and routinely inspected.
  • Avoid overloading or reaching beyond safe limits.
  • Stay vigilant about the risk of falling objects.

Scaffolding safety can also be improved with the addition of protection features such as guardrails, toe boards, safety barrier fencing, yellow foam protectors, and scaffold sheeting. Read our guide to ‘Personal Fall Protection Equipment Scaffolders Swear By’ for more information.

Working on scaffolding is dangerous. The risks are heightened even further when height limits are disregarded and when proper safety measures are not in place for both workers and scaffold structure itself.

Need more information? Contact SP Group at +44 28 9442 8611 or email hello@s-pgroup.com. Our 5-star-rated customer service team is available to help you.