Whenever you’re building, renovating, repairing, or demolishing a structure in a public area, you have to take appropriate measures to protect passers-by from falling debris and objects. Sometimes that means temporarily eliminating public access—often by closing the sidewalk. At other times, it calls for erecting a sidewalk canopy, otherwise known as a sidewalk shed.

Building Sidewalk Canopies to Specification

Formwork and shoring elements like scaffolding that are used by the crew are governed by OSHA regulations, as they pertain to worker safety in the work environment. When an element like sidewalk sheds for public safety are outside OSHA’s purview; these must be constructed in accordance with local building codes. Using municipal, state, or a model building code (like the International Code Council’s International Building Code or the National Fire Prevention Association’s Building Construction and Safety Code).

Building codes exist to protect the public. They create standards for load-bearing, electrical and mechanical systems, building materials, clearance height and width, lighting, and other safety aspects.

Additional Sidewalk Shed Considerations

A qualified expert should determine what type of sidewalk canopy is best suited to the job and environment each time. For example, there are various types of scaffold-style framed walk-throughs, post systems for higher load requirements, and other options.

Key considerations in designing sidewalk canopies

  • Decking  

    The decking is the supporting framework and must be able to securely support the load requirements defined in the relevant building code. This is at least 150 pounds per square foot.  And at a standard 7-foot span, scaffold planks will not suffice. Double decking or specially constructed decking is usually necessary.

  • Wind Loads 

    Wind creates horizontal and uplift forces that bear on a sidewalk canopy and parapets or other safety features to catch debris, and the building code will have specs to account for this.

  • Traffic Barriers 

    Sidewalk canopies use concrete barriers near roadways.

  • Building Access 

    This requires openings in the canopy braces at the point of doorways in use, which affects the design for adequate support. These openings must meet the specs of the building code.

  • Fire Codes 

    Sidewalk canopies are built in accordance with all relevant local fire codes. While In addition to keeping fire and emergency exits clear, another common consideration is ensuring unfettered access to the building’s standpipe and hose system connections.

If you are looking for construction site sidewalk protection canopies, or scaffolding rentals in Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Virginia? Scaffolding Resource can help with all of your scaffolding needs, including scaffold rentals and safety.

Call (301) 924-7223 today to learn more about renting scaffolding for your upcoming construction project.

To set up a scaffolding rental for your upcoming project in Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Virginia, contact Scaffold Resource. For more than 40 years, we have provided our customers with safe and secure scaffolding, hoisting, and shoring solutions.

For more information about the advantages of working with our scaffold and shoring company, call at (301) 924-7223.


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Scaffold Resource specializes in providing an array of reliable, high-quality vertical access services and solutions to construction sites across Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and beyond.


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