Scaffolding Safety in Construction

Around 65% of the construction industry work on scaffolds and experience 4,500 injuries and 60 fatalities annually in the United States alone. To prevent these staggering statistics from reocurring better safety inspections, training and controls are needed.

There are three things to remember to ensure scaffolding safety:

  1. The scaffold must be built under the supervision of a competent person;
  2. Workers must be trained by a qualified person before they use the scaffold; and
  3. The scaffold and its components should be checked by a competent person and properly tagged before the start of the shift to ensure its integrity and safety.

This article covers who are competent and qualified persons, the basic Do’s and Don’ts of scaffolding safety, usage of scaffold tags, and also includes free scaffold safety checklists to help you implement safety in your workplace using iAuditor - the world’s #1 inspection app.

Competent and Qualified Person

According to OSHA, a competent person is "one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them." This is typically someone who holds a scaffolding high-risk work license.

While a qualified person is one who “has successfully demonstrated his/her ability to solve or resolve problems related to the subject matter, the work, or the project." A qualified person has the right background such as education or degree in designing safe scaffolding, for example this could be someone from the scaffold manufacturer or trained scaffold engineer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that 72% of scaffold injuries were due to scaffold planking or support giving way, slips, or falling objects. With regular inspections performed by a competent person, adequate scaffold safety training provided by a qualified person, and compliance with local regulatory standards, these dangers can be controlled.

Basic Scaffolding Safety Do’s and Don’ts

scaffold image

Here’s a simple guide you can follow to control the hazards when working on a scaffold:

DO's:

  1. Inspect the scaffold using a checklist or mobile inspection app before the work shift and ensure it is safe and in proper working order.
  2. Provide proper training.
  3. Have a toolbox talk before beginning work.
  4. Wear appropriate PPE.
  5. Always check inspection tags.
  6. Know the weight capacity of the scaffold.
  7. Have a handhold above the scaffold platform.
  8. Level the scaffold after each move. Do not extend adjusting leg screws more than 12 inches.
  9. Use your safety belts and lanyards when working on scaffolding at a height of 10 feet or more above ground level. Attach the lanyard to a secure member of the scaffold.
  10. Safely use the ladder when climbing the cross braces for access to the scaffold.
  11. Keep both feet on the decking.
  12. Stay off scaffold during loading or unloading.
  13. Ensure planking is overlapping or secured from movement.
  14. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when erecting the scaffold, under the direct supervision of a competent person.
  15. Be mindful of coworkers working above and below you at all times, as well as others working on the scaffold.
  16. Use the debris chutes or lower things by hoist or by hand.
  17. Chock the wheels of the rolling scaffold, using the wheel blocks, and also lock the wheels by using your foot to depress the wheel-lock, before using the scaffold.
  18. Always use netting to catch anything that falls.

DON'Ts:

  1. Leave anything on the scaffold at the end of your shift.
  2. Overload the scaffold.
  3. Use unstable objects such as barrels, boxes, loose brick or concrete blocks to support scaffolds, increase your work height or planks.
  4. Work on platforms or scaffolds unless they are fully planked.
  5. Use a scaffold unless guardrails and all flooring are in place.
  6. Stand on ties, guardrails, or extensions.
  7. Use the scaffold if it appears damaged in any way, has been tampered with, or if there are components missing such as planking, guardrails, toeboards, debris nets or protective canopies.
  8. Walk on scaffold planking covered in ice, snow or mud.
  9. Avoid using a scaffold during adverse weather such as heavy rain, sleet, ice snow or strong winds.
  10. Climb on any portion of the scaffold frame not intended for climbing.
  11. Never climb with any materials or tools in your hand, they should be hoisted up to the scaffold separately.
  12. Jump from, to, or between scaffolding.
  13. Lean out or overreach outside the guardrails.
  14. Rock the scaffold.
  15. Throw anything "overboard" unless a spotter is available.
  16. Move a mobile scaffold if anyone is on it.

Guidelines in Tagging Scaffolds

Scaffold tags are used to protect the lives of your workers. It identifies if a scaffold is safe or unsafe for use. Follow the guidelines below when tagging scaffolds.

  1. Inspection and tagging of the scaffold are to be performed by a competent person experienced in the erection of scaffold.
  2. A unique scaffold identification tag number must be clearly identified on all tags for tracking purposes.
  3. All scaffolds shall be inspected after the erection per regulatory requirements.
  4. All scaffold identification tags wlil be of a solid green, yellow, or red color with black lettering.
  5. Front information displayed and completed for each tag.
  6. It is common practice to use the following color schemes: Green, Yellow, Red

scaffold
iAuditor logo

Free Scaffolding Checklists

iAuditor is the world’s most powerful inspection app that can be used to record, inspect and recommend actions to prevent injuries when working on a scaffold. Get started with these free sample templates to ensure that your scaffold is safe and ready to use. Browse for more scaffolding safety checklists.

  1. Scaffolding Safety Inspection
  2. OSHA Scaffold Inspection Checklist
  3. General Scaffold Inspection Checklist
  4. Scaffolding Checklist
  5. OSHA Toolbox Talk: Scaffolding Checklist
  6. PPE Safety Checklist

iAuditor is the World's #1 Inspection Software and App

iAuditor gives you the flexibility to power any inspection you require - onsite, underground, and across the globe. Inspect construction sites, restaurants inspections for food safety, conduct temperature checks, pre-flight checks, toolbox talks and more. It is the mobile forms inspection solution for all industries.

Emirates Volvo John Holland Emerson Qantas Hitlon Overground