To ensure the safety of your workers and comply with the relevant health and safety regulations, a thorough scaffolding inspection needs to be completed before any work begins. To make this process easier, we have created an essential checklist for scaffold inspections.
This checklist outlines all the items that should be checked during a scaffold inspection, including guardrails, planks, ladders, ties and braces. It also provides guidance on what to look out for and how to identify potential safety risks.
You will also find useful tips for performing scaffold inspections as well as best practice for reporting any issues or non-compliance with regulations.
Safety Equipment: Harnesses, Hard Hats and High Visibility Vests
This is how to inspect scaffold safety. Before any inspection of a scaffold structure can take place, it is essential to ensure that the construction supervisor and their team are all suitably equipped with the required safety gear. Always make sure everybody is wearing a hard hat, safety harness and high visibility vests before beginning any inspection work.
Hard hats have become an iconic symbol of the building trade, offering head protection in case of falling objects or debris. Safety harnesses provide similar protection for falls from height, with body straps to keep workers safe. High visibility clothing makes individuals easily identifiable from a distance and will also alert workers in the area to any potential hazards which may arise during the inspection process.
Don’t forget to complete routine checks of each item to ensure they are still in working order, check harnesses and other items regularly for signs of wear and tear or damage, as well as ensuring that they are fitted and secured properly. A thorough check will ensure that everyone is fully protected during their work, whatever the conditions or circumstances may be.
Scaffold Platform: Ensure Proper Gaps, Load Capacity and Guardrails
Before you can safely use any scaffold, you first need to inspect the platform. It’s essential to make sure that the platform has:
- Proper Gaps:
Make sure there are no gaps between slats of the platform that are more than 9 inches. If there are gaps wider than 9 inches, it is not safe to use and should be repaired.
- Load Capacity:
Scaffolding must be designed to hold four times its intended load without failure. To ensure this, regularly check that the scaffolding is in good condition and that no extra weight has been added.
Platforms should include permanent guardrails at least 42 inches high along the open sides of a scaffold platform with toe boards at least 6 inches high. Be sure to secure them in place before each use.
In short, before using a scaffold, it is important that you take a few moments to make sure it is secure and up to standard—failure to check properly can lead to dangerous conditions, accidents or property damage.
Scaffold Legs and Braces: Stability, Plumbness and Secured Properly
Scaffolds should be stable, plumb, and securely connected when in use. The inspector must check each part of the scaffold for any structural deficiencies related to stability, plumbness, and securement—i.e., legs and braces.
Stability is achieved by making sure the scaffold’s brace connections are sufficiently tight and secure. Plumbness is a measure of verticality and should be checked using a level tool to verify that the vertical alignment of the legs is correct. Leg and brace securement should also be inspected—all bolts must be properly connected, tight, and undamaged.
Here’s an essential checklist for inspectors to follow when inspecting scaffold legs:
- Check that each leg is connected to a base plate that has sufficient capacity to support the designed load
- Verify that all four braces are securely connected
- Inspect the frame for any signs of deflection or distortion
- Ensure that locking pins are properly secured in place
- Look for any damage or signs of wear and tear on any scaffold components
- Ensure that all connections are tight with no loose or missing parts
Scaffold Access: Ladders, Stairs and Entryways Clear
Before working on any scaffold, supervisors should ensure that all entryways and passageways are clear and accessible. This includes making sure that Scaffolding ladders, stairs, bridges or gangways are in good condition and free of debris or any obvious defect that could pose a risk to workers.
Checklist items to inspect include:
- Protruding nails, screws or other sharp objects which could snag clothing or cause injury
- Unstable planks or platforms
- Any signs of rusting or corrosion on the ladder rungs, steps and handrails
- Any loose parts such as wheels, pulleys, rollers, hangers and cleats
- Loose guardrails, toe boards or midrails
- Insecure connections between scaffold components and other parts of the structure
If any of these items present a hazard to workers’ safety, proper corrective action should be taken immediately before allowing access onto the scaffold.
Scaffold Anchorage: Tied and Braced for Structural Stability
Good scaffolding starts with good anchorage. Without it, the safety and stability of the entire scaffold can be compromised.
To ensure anchorage is secure and up to standard, ensure all of the following criteria are met:
- All ties, braces and anchors should be firmly secured to an adequate structure or support system
- Ensure cross-bracing is adequately installed at all levels and that anchor points are located where they can provide maximum support
- All components should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations
- Check for signs of corrosion or damage to anchors or tiebacks
- The distance between anchors needs to be no more than 6 feet apart for most applications, but this may vary depending on the design of the structure
By performing a thorough inspection and ensuring all components are properly secured, Supervisors can rest assured that any scaffolding is safe for use.
General Considerations: Material Storage, Signage and Weekly Inspections
All supervisors should be aware of a few general considerations when overseeing scaffold inspections:
Ensure that any unused materials are properly stored and secured in an appropriate space. Don’t store materials on the scaffolding itself, as this can add unnecessary weight and lead to structural instability.
Posting signage informing workers that the area is off-limits unless they are accompanied by trained personnel is a must. The signs should be clearly visible and of an appropriate size easily seen from a distance.
It’s important to conduct weekly inspections of the scaffolding to ensure its stability and safety. Make sure to check all components, including guardrails, supports, braces, ties, frames, planks and platforms – they should all be secure and undamaged. A thorough inspection will help identify any loose or missing parts so they can be replaced or repaired promptly.
Final Safety Checks Before Use
Before any scaffold can be used, there are additional safety checks and measures that must be taken. You are responsible for ensuring all of the following items have been checked and cleared:
- Scaffold Platforms: Check platform boards to ensure they meet the minimum requirements, including being free of any holes, splinters, and rough or uneven surfaces. Ensure there is no circular saw dust on the ground beneath the platform.
- Guardrails: Ensure guardrails are in place on all scaffold levels above 2m high, as required by OSHA regulations. Double-check that guardrails meet minimum requirements for height and strength, and ensure they have been properly attached to the scaffold frame.
- Ladders: Check for any signs of damage or wear on ladders before use. Inspect rungs for any signs of wear or damage, particularly at points of contact where hands and feet may rest during use. Ensure all ladder braces and stabilizers are properly attached to the frame before use.
- Tie-Ins: Double-check ties at each end of a scaffold to make sure they meet load requirements and that they have been adequately secured with tie rods or other fastening devices calibrated to specific load requirements as per OSHA regulations.
Construction supervisors should use this scaffold inspection checklist as a guide to ensure that their projects remain safe and compliant. Regular inspections of the scaffolding should be performed to determine any potential hazards or structural damage. Safety protocols should be followed at all times to avoid any potential accidents or injuries. Additionally, supervisors should consult relevant regulations and industry guidelines to ensure that their scaffolding projects adhere to local laws. By implementing this essential scaffold inspection checklist, construction supervisors can ensure that their projects are completed safely and efficiently.