Rollers Bumpers: The Abused Swing Stage Component

While the Scaffold & Access Industry Association swing stage competent person training (CPT) course has more than 100 questions, there is only one that directly relates to roller bumpers, despite the fact several other questions relate to them.

Questions on spacing, platform to wall surface, and angulated wire ropes directly depend on this abused component. So what is the one question on roller bumpers? OK, pop quiz.

Question: Where are roller bumpers located?

  1. Between the wire rope and the structure
  2. Between the platform and the structure
  3. On the outer edge of the platform
  4. On the underside of the platform
  5. On each end of the platform

There are two things all these answers have in common—definition and purpose. Roller bumpers are a suspended platform guide roller designed to contact the outer face or wall structure or building. Their purpose is to help keep the platform stable to prevent damage to the structure and to guide the platform as it is moving.

If you have taken the suspended CPT test, you better have answered b. However, there are different types of roller bumpers which can make c, d, and e legitimate answers. We can rule out a because it is only there to be confusing.

Answer c.On the outer edge of the platform. This is possible. Normally you mount rollers on the toe board of the platform, then clamp them down to prevent accidental dislodgement to prevent it dropping on someone below. Here is a classic example of the abuse they take and why they must be secure.

Today with the wind industry being part of the scaffold and access market, we can have multiple sets of rollers. Some are adjustable to fit the contour of the turbine blade as the pitch increases and decreases toward the blade tip.

Answer d. – On the underside of the platform. This is confusing but possible. Telescopic roller bumpers are being used more due to setbacks and slopes on building facades. They normally attach to the platform underneath or near the end of the platform and can be pushed out or back in as the building façade changes. Caution must be taken that they do not create a trip hazard if mounted on the toe board in the middle of the stage. Again, ensure the connection is sound to prevent dislodgement.

Answer e. – On each end of the platform. This can be true but not very common.

Material Options
Although roller bumpers purpose is the same, the material they are made of can be quite different. Manufacturers often make different type rollers for different types of wall material; it’s common to see the wrong type of roller on the wrong wall surface.

  • Glass– When working on a glass surface normally a very thick soft type roller is used that cushions the platform should it contact the glass.
  • Hard Surfaces – Normally a hard material or a wheel on some type of Roller Bumper is used.
  • Non-marking – Certain wall surfaces like marble require you to use a non- marking roller in order not to have buff marks left along facades where the platform and roller bumper hit.
  • Required – The type of work being done may mandate the material used. OSHA 1926 Appendix E, Subpart L requires the roller to be a nonconductive material when welding.

Today the most common type material used is the same as your boat bumper. They are durable, long lasting, and can be used on almost all surfaces.


  • Size – Size really matters when it comes to spacing angulated ropes and platform to the wall surface.

Okay, another pop quiz.

Question: What determines the position of a suspended scaffold in relation to the work surface?

  1. Hoist position
  2. Platform width
  3. Stirrup size
  4. Beam outreach
  5. Type of fulcrum

Relatively easy question – I hope you answered d. It’s common to see the beam outreach either out or in too far with the wrong size roller bumper. The wire ropes should be plumb hoist-to-hoist and hoist-to-wall surface at all times unless you’re intentionally doing angulated roping, which sets the beam in slightly on the roof causing the swing stage to press against the work surface. If the outreach is too far and the bumper roller is too small they are useless and the platform could damage the building. Therefore, once the beam outreach has been determined, choosing the correct size roller bumper is critical. Always be cautious considering that any size roller bumper, big or small, can get caught on a ledge during ascent or descent.

  • Number – If it’s a circular or “L” type modular swing stage at least  two bumpers may be needed, one near the corner and more for the remaining swing stage.
  • Specialty – Certain types of work on dams or slopes may require adjustable stirrups with sloping rollers that can adjust as the angle of the slope increases.

Remember this abused component and what needs to be asked before the job starts because not all roller bumpers are the same.

  • What type material do I need?
  • What size bumper roller do I need?
  • How many bumper rollers do I need?
  • What kind of work am I doing?
  • Once installed are they secure?

And remember to check them often, as they do become loose.


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