What is a Scaffold Inspection Checklist?
A scaffold inspection checklist is used to identify installation oversights and defects in scaffolding. These checklists should carry out critical and thorough evaluations focusing on a scaffold’s strength, rigidity, and stability, to ensure that it passes regulatory safety standards.
Why are Scaffolding Safety Inspections Important?
With the importance of scaffolding work in construction projects, it is crucial that erectors and users involved in scaffolding work be protected through scaffolding safety inspections. Scaffolding safety inspections are important primarily because 65% of construction workers, or 2.3 million of them, frequently work on scaffolds according to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These inspections help manage and control the inherent risks of scaffolding work. Thorough scaffold inspections help spot both the apparent and underlying hazards that threaten stability of the ground, scaffolding tower, and work structure, thus helping protect the livelihood of the workers involved.
Similarly, scaffolding inspections serve as a quality control measure for scaffolding. Ensuring that all components are in good condition and correctly assembled is one way to reduce injuries and issues, as well as prevent them entirely.
Conducting a scaffold inspection also helps ensure compliance with safety and labor standards. Many countries and governments have set rules for scaffold use and operations to safeguard workers and the public. Scaffolding safety inspections are essential for compliance with these regulations. Failing to adhere to these standards can lead to legal repercussions, fines, and project delays.
With a dedicated scaffold inspection checklist, you can streamline your inspection process to save more time and money, as well as better improve the quality and safety of your workplace. Using a checklist makes it easier to keep track of all the things to inspect, document changes and issues, and spot potential problems and points for improvement, thus making it essential.
What Do You Need to Check Before Using the Scaffold?
Prior to using a scaffolding system, do the following:
- Check to see if power lines near scaffolds are de-energized or that the scaffolds are at least 10 feet away from energized power lines.
- Make sure that tools and materials are at least 10 feet away from energized power lines.
- Verify that the scaffold is the correct type for the loads, materials, workers and weather conditions.
- Check footings to see if they are level, sound, rigid, and capable of supporting the loaded scaffold.
- Check legs, posts, frames, and uprights to see if they are on baseplates and mudsills.
- Check metal components for bends, cracks, holes, rust, welding splatter, pits, broken welds, and non-compatible parts.
- Check for safe access. Do not use the cross braces as a ladder for access or exit.
- Check wooden planks for cracks, splits greater than 1 /4 inch, end splits that are long, many large loose knots, warps greater than 1 /4 inch, boards and ends with gouges, mold, separated laminate(s), and grain sloping greater than 1 in 12 inches from the long edge and are scaffold grade lumber or equivalent.
- If the planks deflect 1 /60 of the span or 2 inches in a 10-foot wooden plank, the plank has been damaged and must not be used.
- Check to see if the planks are close together, with spaces no more than 1 inch around uprights.
- Check to see if 10-foot or shorter planks are 6 to 12 inches over the center line of the support, and that 10-foot or longer planks are no more than 18 inches over the end.
- Check to see if the platform is 14 inches or less from the wall or 18 inches or less away if plastering/stucco.
- Check for guardrails and mid-rails on platforms where work is being done.
- Check for workers under the platform and provide falling object protection or barricade the area. Make sure that hard hats are worn.
- Use braces, tie-ins and guying as described by the scaffold’s manufacturer at each end, vertically and horizontally to prevent tipping.
What are General Scaffold Inspection Requirements?
Generally, scaffold inspections must be performed in these three instances:
- after installation or assembly in any position;
- at least in intervals of 7 days thereafter; and
- after any circumstances that can jeopardize the safety of the scaffold.
The scaffolding inspection procedure should involve a rigorous assessment of scaffolding parameters (e.g. posts, frames, base plates, footing), appropriate scaffolding materials, guardrails and mid-rails, distance from power lines, performance of scaffolding workers, and possible faults in planks. An extensive scaffold inspection checklist can help outline these necessary steps to ensure every aspect of the scaffold inspection is covered.
Scaffolding inspection should be conducted by a scaffold competent person who possesses the minimum qualifications prescribed in their country of work. A final report must be provided by the assessor after each scaffold inspection, which must then be retained at the site until the construction work is completed.
Construction businesses based in North America adhere to OSHA standards, while scaffolding work done in the United Kingdom should follow the guidelines on the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’s Work at Heights Regulations 2005.
OSHA Scaffold Inspection Requirements
OSHA provides a comprehensive directive regarding the inspection of scaffolding used in construction work. This includes the following guidelines:
Have a competent person on site
The compliance officer is in-charge of ensuring that a scaffold competent person is present on site. A scaffold competent person must have sufficient training and experience to oversee the safe erection and use of scaffolding as defined by Appendix A in OSHA’s Inspection Procedures for Enforcing Subpart L, Scaffolds Used in Construction.
Always adhere to fall protection requirements
Fall protection is automatically required for employees working at a height of at least six feet or higher. Depending on the type of scaffold in use, employers may be required to provide a guard rail system, a personal fall arrest for each employee, or both.
Check the scaffold’s rated load against the maximum intended load
The scaffold’s rated load refers to the amount of weight a scaffold is designed to carry. The maximum intended load refers to the total weight of the actual load you will put on the scaffold. As a safety measure, OSHA requires scaffolds to be capable of bearing four times the maximum intended load, not the rated load. This ensures that the scaffold is strong enough to hold even if it is affected by accidents, machine failures, or strong winds. Never overload a scaffolding.
UK Scaffold Requirements
Similar to the US, the UK HSE also has specific requirements and guidelines on scaffold operation and use. For the most part, the standards are similar. Employers are legally required to examine risks and hazards before undertaking any scaffold work, along with the following:
- Barrier use and status
- Scaffold design
- Types of scaffold to use
- Competence and supervision of scaffolding personnel
- Scaffold inspection procedures and documentation
What to Include in a Scaffold Inspection Checklist
A typical scaffold inspection checklist will have fields for the following:
- Date and time of inspection
- Name of inspector and those involved
- Type of scaffold
- Description of work to be done with the scaffold
- Status and condition of scaffold base
- Presence of assistive wires, barricades, and railings for working at heights
- Symmetry and balance of equipment
- Size and condition of platforms and bracing equipment
- Condition of tubes and fittings
- Loading processes
- Presence and status of guard rails, toe boards, and tags
- Recommendations for next use and inspection
At the end of the scaffold inspection checklist, it would be best to include a field for signatures. This will help ensure the validity of your checklist, as well as make it easier to know who to reach out to in case of further inquiries regarding documentation and issues.
With a digital scaffold inspection checklist in particular, this can be done quickly and efficiently. A digital checklist can also make it more effortless to share findings and issues across different teams and organizations if needed, especially if your checklist can be exported in formats such as PDF, Excel, and Word.
Here is a sample scaffold inspection checklist in use for reference:
FAQs about Scaffold Inspection Checklists
Further ensure worker safety by following these 10 scaffolding safety tips:
- Provide proper training – Ensure that all workers who will be using the scaffold are properly instructed on its assembly, disassembly, and safe usage.
- Ensure a stable foundation – Set up the scaffold on a level and stable surface; use appropriate tools to achieve stability on uneven ground.
- Provide guardrails and toe boards – Install guardrails and toe boards on all open sides and ends of the scaffold to prevent falls.
- Conduct regular inspections – Perform assessments of the scaffold before each use to look for any damaged or missing parts and resolve them immediately.
- Be aware of the weight capacity – Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to not exceed the scaffold’s maximum weight capacity.
- Ensure fall protection – Provide appropriate fall protection equipment like harnesses, lifelines, and lanyards when working on the scaffold.
- Consider the weather – Do not use the scaffold during adverse weather conditions like strong winds, heavy rain, or icy conditions, as it can make the scaffold unstable.
- Provide proper access – Ensure safe access to the scaffold by using secured ladders, stair towers, or other designated means to get on and off.
- Keep the area clear – Organize the work area and keep it free from clutter at all times to avoid safety incidents.
- Use checklists – Checklists can help streamline the organization and inspection process of your workplace, as well as serve as a record of all things related to your scaffold work.
Scaffolding tags serve as warning devices for workers and other construction site personnel. Accidents, injuries, and other preventable incidents can be averted with the correct use of scaffolding tags. Below is a summary of the most important scaffolding tag requirements as outlined by OSHA:
- Scaffolding tags must be placed at all scaffolding access points.
- Tags must be securely attached to scaffolding and durable enough to withstand environmental conditions.
- Tags must specify if the scaffolding is safe for use, unsafe for use, under construction, or subject to specific weight limits.
- Tags must always be legible.
- Scaffolding tags must specify the date of the last inspection and note if any modifications have been made
While the US and UK have some of the most well-known and followed safety standards,other countries also have their own regulations to follow regarding scaffold safety. As different countries and cultures have their own preferences, their scaffolds may also differ in terms of material, size, and use.
Some of the countries that have their own regulations regarding scaffold inspection and safety are: