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Keep Workers Safe With A Scaffold Safety Inspection Checklist

Learn about OSHA’s scaffolding safety requirements as well as who is authorized to conduct an inspection and how often it should be done. Comply with industry standards and make the workplace a safer place with checklists and app.

What Is a Scaffolding Safety Checklist?

Ever seen a construction worker walking along an ultra-thin plank on the side of an impossibly high building? Then you already know what scaffolding is. It’s the ladder-like structure temporarily built alongside buildings, bridges, and other construction sites so that workers may have access to otherwise hard-to-reach places.

However, working at heights poses some risks to employees and passersby. That’s why there are several requirements that must be met when erecting and using scaffolding. An inspection of the scaffold by a specialist for occupational safety or other qualified personnel ensures that scaffolding is in accordance with the applicable regulations.

To perform a risk assessment in scaffolding construction according to a industries standards is useful for identifying recurring assembly and equipment errors. Digital checklists provide an excellent basis for conducting a critical and thorough assessment of a scaffold to ensure that it is safe to bear weight.

Learn more about scaffolding safety in this article:

1. Why are scaffolding inspections important?

2. What are OSHA’s scaffolding safety requirements?

3. Who is authorized to inspect a scaffold?

4. How often does a scaffold need to be inspected?

5. A digital tool for scaffolding safety

Construction workers erecting a scaffold

Why are scaffolding inspections important?

Construction scaffolding is a part of the abreast foundation. After all, nearly 65% of construction work is done using scaffolding. However, the risk of accidents when using such a structure is also very high. Almost 72% of work accidents on construction sites is related to scaffolding. Often, the planks give way, part of the support system collapses, or there was a slip on one of the planks.

Because scaffolding accidents happen all the time and cause serious injuries, it is essential that thorough inspections of construction site scaffolding take place. These help to manage and control the associated risks.

Thorough scaffold inspections identify both the obvious and subliminal hazards that threaten the stability of the ground, scaffold tower, and work structure. This is where the use of a step-by-step checklist of specific items on a scaffold structure is essential to ensure the safety of all workers on a job site. This includes instructing employees on the safety requirements for installing and assembling scaffolding.

What are OSHA’s scaffold inspection requirements?

Before performing an inspection on scaffolding, every company should be aware of its responsibilities to its employees and passersby. Thorough safety plans and regular inspections help manage and control potential hazards and risks. This includes a marking system to identify both safe and unsafe equipment and the training of staff so they are aware of regulations and hazards. Below are some of OHSA’s standard inspection regulations for the construction industry:

  1. Setting up the scaffold
    The erection of the scaffold should be done by a competent person under the supervision of a person experienced in scaffolding. This means that the design of the scaffold should be by a licensed engineer who will ensure that the recommended safety regulations are followed.
  2. Stability of the Scaffold
    Never overload the scaffold with equipment or other materials. All planks used in the construction must be capable of supporting the load applied to them on site. The scaffold shall be braced and secured and braces, posts, and supports shall not be removed unless suitable replacements are used.
  3. Scaffold Access
    Access to all scaffold platforms shall be safe and unobstructed. Any ladders or stairs used for access must be located so that the scaffold will not become unstable. If a ladder is used for access, it must be securely attached to the scaffold and extend at least 3 meters above the platform.
  4. Materials and Coverings
    Materials and decking used in scaffold construction should be load-bearing wood or metal such as aluminum. Planking should be a minimum of 2″ x 10″ boards suitable for scaffolding. It should be no longer than 3 meters for light-duty, 2.5 meters for medium-duty, and 1.8 meters for heavy-duty. Planks should extend at least 6 meters but less than 10 meters beyond their supports. The poles, legs, and posts must be plumb and securely braced to prevent sway.
  5. Railings and Toeboards
    Any scaffold that exceeds the height requirement must have guardrails on all open sides or ends. Scaffolds between 1 and 2 meters in height with a horizontal dimension of less than 1 meter must also have guardrails on the open sides and ends. Guardrail posts shall not be more than 2 meters apart and shall be 2″ x 4″ and approximately 1 meter high. Scaffolds taller than 10 meters must also have toe boards on all open sides and ends.
  6. Working on Scaffolds
    Any scaffolding on a job site must always be protected from the hazards above. Slippery conditions must be removed as soon as possible. Work should not be performed on scaffolds during continuous rain or high winds. In addition, scaffolding must be kept free of all tools, materials, and other debris that pose a potential work hazard.

Construction worker inspecting the safety and integrity of the scaffold

Who is authorized to inspect a scaffold?

Because of the level of risk involved with using scaffolding for construction and maintenance projects, not only as an occupational hazard in a chosen career path but also to civilians walking many stories below, not just anyone is allowed to determine when a scaffold is safe to use. So who gets to give it the go-ahead?

Accroding to OSHA, which regulates the health and safety regulations for all workers, a ‘competent person’ must be in charge of the inspections. OSHA defines a competent person as, “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”

In order to be a competent person, one must be both trained and knowledgeable in safety relating to scaffolding. OSHA’s training requirements for scaffolding inspections are as follows:

  • Trained person must be made aware of common hazards and the knowledge to counteract them
  • Falling hazards
  • Electrical hazards
  • How to erect a scaffold
  • How to dismantle a scaffold
  • The proper use of a scaffold
  • The proper handling of materials on a scaffold
  • The load weight limit of onsite scaffolds

Before we move forward, just in case you’re wondering what an OSHA scaffolding inspection checklist looks like, check out the one we created.

Now that we’ve determined who gets to give a scaffolding project the green light, that brings us to our next line of business.

How often does a scaffold need to be inspected?

When should a worker inspect a scaffold? As already stated, a scaffolding inspection can only be conducted by knowledgeable and trained personnel who has the authority to take corrective action when safety concerns arise. So to answer the question, a scaffold needs to be inspected right after it’s constructed and before its use, and then prior to each working shift. After that, it will need to be inspected more thoroughly at a minimum of a seven-day interval unless an event should occur that jeopardizes the integrity of the structure. These events might include severe weather events, such as high winds, hail, or ice.

A digital tool for scaffolding safety

With Lumiform’s free scaffolding safety app, digital checklists can be used to conduct comprehensive inspections of scaffolding. This optimizes safety on every job site. Data, as well as image material, can be easily captured via smartphone or tablet and evaluated via desktop software. This helps prevent injuries when working on scaffolding.

The mobile, powerful app offers for scaffolding safety:

  • With the flexible form builder, individual paper lists are converted into digital checklists within minutes.
  • Lumiform offers pre-made templates to get you started digitally quickly and securely.
  • Using the super intuitive mobile app, teammates can easily collaborate and save time on each inspection.
  • All inspection results are automatically bundled into one report and can be sent to stakeholders.
  • Comprehensive analyses help to uncover risks and hazards in scaffolding design more quickly and thus continuously improve safety standards.

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A multi-level scaffold built along the outside of a large building
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