How to calculate the SWL of a scaffold

Safe Working Load

Knowing how to calculate  the SWL of the scaffold you intend to work on is very important as it will prevent you from overloading the scaffold.

Before we get down to how to calculate the SWL of a scaffold, let’s define what SWL (Safe working load) is:

SWL is the maximum safe force that a piece of lifting equipment, lifting device or accessory can exert to lift, suspend, or lower a given mass without fear of breaking.

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How to calculate the SWL of a scaffold

I came across this:

It can be calculated using this formula:

SWL = D + (4 x L)

Where –

– SWL = Safe Working Load

– D = Dead Load: This is the weight of the working platform and the scaffold components.

– L = Live Load: This include the weight of workers, material and tools


When all the variables in the formulae is obtained, fixing the values in, we can calculate the SWL of any scaffold.


Contributions are welcome 


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  1. Good day,
    Thank you for your informative information regarding health and safety issues.
    I’m a newly appointed HSE (in South Africa called a Health and Safety Officer).
    I’m struggling to get the H&S structure in place. There was nothing when I start 2 weeks ago.
    Your direction in getting this H&S structure organized will be appreciated.

    • You will need to draw out an HSE Policy for the organization based on their activities, but first of all get your management support by making them sign a commitment letter for you.

      Look up for samples of HSE policy online, it will guide you

    • This is a most ridicules formula ever… If you have 20 lifts so your one standard takes 2000kg dead load and you have 2 workers 100kg each and they have 10000 kg of materials/tools, so S.W.L 44800kg


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