Quiz: Scaffold Planks and Platforms

Words: Dan Kamys

By Jeff Jack

Compiled by Karen D. Hickey

A plank is not just a piece of lumber. There is a lot to think through when purchasing and using planks for jobsite scaffolding. Test your knowledge on scaffold plank identification and inspection with this quiz, which recently appeared in a free MCAA webinar entitled “Scaffold Plank Identification and Inspection Processes.” 1.    Which agency would you refer to for questions about the legitimacy of a grade stamp for solid sawn scaffold plank? a.    SSFI. b.    ALSC. c.    SPIB. d.    OSHA. 2.    Which agency would you refer to for questions about the legitimacy of a third-party stamp for engineered wood scaffold plank? This could be LVL or edge-laminated or pin plank. a.    IAS. b.    SAIA. c.    WCLIB. d.    ANSI. e.    AARP. 3.    Which scaffold plank is required to have a capacity rating shown on it? a.    Inner access decks. b.    DI-65. c.    LVL. d.    All of the above. 4.    Which of these characteristics is allowed in a wood or engineered wood scaffold plank with some limitation? a.    Checks. b.    Narrow face splits. c.    Delamination. d.    End splits. 5.    What marking must always appear on a solid sawn scaffold plank? a.    OSHA. b.    Grader’s initials or license number. c.    Grade agency and mill number. d.    “PROOF TESTED SCAF PLK.” 6.    Which would not be inspected for in a metal plank? a.    Attachment of hooks, deck and cross-rungs. b.    Indications of excessive heat. c.    Rust. d.    Soundness of welds. e.    All of the above should be inspected for. 7.    Which of the following statements is true? a.    Visual inspection should be conducted before each use. b.    Visual inspection should be conducted by a competent person. c.    Visual inspection should be conducted by a qualified person. d.    Visual inspection should be followed up with a mechanical evaluation. e.    Visual inspection should be conducted by the SAIA or manufacturer. 8.    Which statement is true about mechanical evaluation? a.    Required by OSHA for all plank types on an annual basis. b.    The responsibility of the plank manufacturer. c.    More reliable alternative than visual inspection. d.    Done incorrectly, this can be damaging to planks. e.    Proof test by the plank manufacturer is the best evaluation. 9.    What is the primary way to identify a scaffold plank from 2x10 lumber for other applications? a.    Scaffold planks will have a brand or emboss. b.    “OSHA APPROVED SCAFFOLD PLANKING.” c.    Rods and clipped corners. d.    The invoice from my supplier will indicate product. e.    Grade stamp. 10.    Which plank should not ever be allowed to return to service? a.    Any plank that has previously been used as a mud sill. b.    Sawn plank that has an 18-inch-long end split. c.    LVL plank with cupping of ½ inch across the face. d.    Metal plank with white rust on the deck and side rail. e.    Composite plank with a saw kerf across the wide face.

Answers and Explanations

1. (b) ALSC. The ALSC, or the American Lumber Standards Committee, publishes a list of all the grade agencies and images of their grade stamps. OSHA would be a good source for this information, but they are not the keeper of this information. SSFI has also published safety standards for scaffolding and shoring components. Incidentally, the SSFI has recently ceased to exist as an independent organization and is now part of the SAIA. 2. (a) IAS. ANSI 10.8 is the document which tells you that you need to have a third-party logo on an engineered wood plank. However, ANSI does not tell you which agencies are accredited or on an approved list. The agency that keeps this list is IAS, the International Accreditation Services. The Plank and Platform Council at the SAIA has put together links on its website (www.saiaonline.org) to the IAS for its list of third-party agencies and to the ALSC for its list of grade agencies and their stamps. 3. (a) Inner access decks. All of these planks do need some information on them about grade or rating. However, both the wood products (DI-65 and LVL) would have just a grade, not a capacity rating. Capacity information (either allowable uniform load or number of persons allowed) is required on the inner access deck. In order to get the capacity rating for the wood products, you would have to look at the grade and then refer back to a span table published by OSHA, SAIA or the manufacturer. 4. (d) End splits. Checks are allowed with no limitation as long as they are checks and not splits. Narrow face splits are not allowed. A true narrow face split can be a sign of physical damage or a potential manufacturing defect in an engineered wood product. Delamination is not allowed, as it would also be a sign of defective manufacturing. 5. (c) Grade agency and mill number. The grade agency and mill number must be on every plank. While OSHA commonly appears on both solid sawn and engineered wood scaffold plank, it is not required. It may be a requirement of some customers or industries, but there is no regulatory requirement for it. The term “PROOF TESTED SCAF PLK” is also a good thing to look for as it can indicate proper product performance at time of manufacture, but a proof test is not required. 6. (e) All of the above should be inspected for. You would want to see the hooks, deck and cross-rungs properly attached. You would not want to see indications of excessive heat deformation in the plank. You would want to look for rust, and differentiate between white rust that is permissible and red rust that is not permissible. You would also want to check for the soundness of welds. You’re inspecting all of these elements in a full inspection. 7. (a) Visual inspection should be conducted before each use. The statements in (b), (c) and (d) are good ideas, and certainly not a problem, but they are not required. Regarding the last statement in (e), the SAIA won’t come out and inspect for you, and manufacturers are also unlikely to do so. The regulatory requirement from OSHA is that visual inspection should be conducted before each use. 8. (d) Done incorrectly, can be damaging to planks. OSHA does not require annual mechanical evaluations, though there are a handful of agencies that do require this internally. There are also facilities that have this requirement for their contractors. While many manufacturers have a proof test, mechanical evaluation is also not a requirement or the responsibility of the manufacturer. Mechanical evaluation can be a great supplement to visual inspection, but it is not an alternative. The visual inspection is still what is required by OSHA. There are good and bad mechanical evaluation methods, and some can do more harm to your inventory than good. Ask your manufacturer or supplier for their recommended specs regarding loads, spans, etc., and how to properly conduct the evaluation. Some proof tests can be very accurate and informative, and others not so much. A proof test only provides information about a plank at the time of manufacturing, not after it was put into service. 9. (e) Grade stamp. Many planks will have an emboss on them, and many will claim to comply with OSHA by showing “OSHA” on the emboss. Many planks will have rods and clipped corners to improve end-split resistance. The invoice will usually indicate the product grade. But the only reliable way to confirm a scaffold plank is the grade stamp. It shows the agency whose stamp confirms the material is in-grade. 10. (a) Any plank that has previously been used as a mud sill. While a plank with an 18-inch-long end split is not permitted to be used, that plank can be trimmed back to remove the end split and go back into service as a shorter plank. While you would not want to use a plank with cupping of ½ inch, a lot of cupped plank, particularly LDL plank, can be dried out, allowing the moisture to equilibrate across the plank. This will straighten the plank back out, and there is a good potential the plank could be returned to service. There are certain types of rust that you would not want to have in a serviceable plank, but white rust is not an indication that the plank’s strength has been compromised, so it could be used again. You also would not want to use a composite plank with a saw kerf across the wide face, but the plank could be cut to eliminate the kerf.
Jeff Jack is forming and shoring specialist for RedBuilt. He can be reached at jjack@redbuilt.com. The SAIA, or the Scaffold & Access Industry Association, promotes safety in the use of scaffolding. More information on identification and inspection of scaffold planks can be found at www.saiaonline.org.
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