A Guide to Scaffolding Weight Limit Standards

There are three weight classes of scaffolding based on their load-bearing capacities. These loads should be distributed evenly across the entire scaffold platform.
June 7, 2024 by
A Guide to Scaffolding Weight Limit Standards
SP Group Global Ltd

A scaffold is designed to support the weight of workers and their equipment. However, there are limits to its capacity that must be within compliance with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Here’s everything you need to know.

Why Are There Weight Limits in Scaffolding?

The implementation of maximum weight limits is for the safety and stability of the scaffolding. These limits are determined based on the structure’s design, materials, and the specific load it needs to bear. This includes the combined weight of workers, tools, and materials. Only qualified scaffolders and safety experts should provide these calculations to ensure accuracy and compliance with safety regulations.

The specific weight limitations can vary depending on the type of scaffolding, as each type is designed to support different loads. For instance, shoring scaffolding can handle heavier loads than access scaffolding. Whatever type you plan to set up, discuss your needs with an engineer to meet regulatory requirements.

Different Weight Classes of Scaffolding

There are three weight classes of scaffolding based on their load-bearing capacities:

  1. Light duty scaffolding: This is considered the ‘standard’, and it can support loads up to 25 pounds per square foot. It’s designed for tasks requiring minimal equipment, such as painting or general maintenance.
  2. Medium duty scaffolding: This type is suitable for work involving heavier tools and materials, such as bricklaying. It can bear loads up to 50 pounds per square foot.
  3. Heavy duty scaffolding: As the name suggests, this scaffold is built for the most demanding tasks. This could be stone-setting or work with heavier materials. It can sustain loads up to 75 pounds per square foot.

These loads should be distributed evenly across the entire scaffold platform.

Note: A certified engineer must verify the overall load capacity before use. The scaffolding must also be inspected before each shift to guarantee its integrity and safety. Read our guide to ‘How Often Should Scaffolding Be Inspected?’  for more information.

What Factors Determine Scaffolding Weight Limits?

Scaffolding is capable of supporting its own weight plus four times the maximum intended load. Yet, it’s still important to make sure the structure is never loaded beyond its rated capacity. To work this out, total the weight of the following:

  • Workers
  • Equipment
  • Tools
  • Materials
  • Transmitted loads
  • Other loads

Tip: One simple way to check if a scaffold is overloaded is by using the deflection method. Platforms, planks, or decking should not bend more than 1/60 of their span when loaded. This can be measured with a tape measure and a straight edge.

Why Shouldn’t You Go Over Weight Limits?

Ignoring scaffolding loading capacity can lead to increased expenses and time investment in the long run. If workers fall due to a collapse, it can result in severe injuries or even fatalities, leading to costly medical bills, legal liabilities, and project delays. Overloading can also cause structural damage, requiring repairs or replacement, further adding to the costs.

These scaffolding safety requirements cover the best practices to prevent overloading and other accidents on site. The safety regulations apply not only to workers but also to the general public. Learn more by reading our ‘How to Ensure Public Safety When Working with Scaffolding’ guide.

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 with queries.