Scaffold Inspection Checklist
A lot of times, scaffolding will be erected on a job site in order to complete specific tasks and jobs. You will see scaffolding used a majority of the time in the construction and maintenance of buildings. Scaffolding is, by definition, a temporary, field erected structure that is used for working at elevated heights. Since scaffolds are temporary structures, they can be subjected to wear and tear over time. This includes abuse, incorrect or improper assembly, or unauthorized changes or modifications to the structure. Of course, if you are a construction worker on one of these job sites, you should already know that it is required by industry standards that there be a “Competent Person” who inspects any scaffolding for fallacies and defects before every shift of work. However, they should not be the only ones who know how to inspect a scaffold. Any construction worker who will be working on, around, or near the scaffolding should be familiar with any and all safety requirements relating to the scaffolding. To help you, we have put together this scaffold inspection checklist to familiarize workers with what they should look for before ever setting foot on a scaffold.
- All scaffolding needs to be erected on firm ground that can support the maximum carrying load intended. DO NOT use barrels, boxes, bricks, or loose concrete blocks to support the scaffolding.
- Know how much weight the scaffold will need to support. Take this weight and multiply it by four. The scaffold must be able to support FOUR TIMES the maximum load without failure. This includes the workers who will be working on the scaffold along with all of the supplies and equipment they will be using.
- Most scaffolding is naturally unstable because they are usually tall structures with a narrow base. Since this is usually an inevitability, you need to counteract this by bracing or tying off the scaffold to a stable structure such as a building wall or, if you’re working in a shipyard, a ship’s hull.
- Any and all planking must be considered scaffold grade. This means that the wood needs to be free of splits, loose knots, or other fallacies. Generally speaking, 2 planks must be laid side by side to build a 20″ wide platform to work on. At the ends of the scaffold, the planking must overlap the edges by at least 6″ but no more than 18″. If you’re in a shipyard these measurements are limited to 12″. The only exceptions for this is if the planks are actually fastened securely to the supporting structures.
- Along the outer scaffold edge, toe boards need to be installed. These need to be at least 4″ high so that they prevent equipment or supplies from falling off the edges and possibly hurting someone below.
- According to OSHA, if your platform is 10 feet or higher, you need to establish guardrails on the platform. If you’re working in a shipyard, guardrails must be established if the platform is 5 feet or higher above the ground or water. Remember that these requirements can vary from state to state and industry to industry, so make sure you know which apply to you and that you are meeting those requirements.
- The top rail of your guardrail needs to be at least 42″ above the scaffold platform with a mid-rail at about half that height. If it is being attached to rigid supports and will be kept taut, then you can use wire rope or fiber. Keep in mind the purpose behind the guardrails; they must be able to support the weight of anyone who could possibly fall into it.
- There are times, such as when a ship’s hull prevent their use, that you can omit the use of guardrails. However, workers must be wearing safety harnesses and life lines if they are working 5 or more feet above the ground or water. If you’re working over water, you must be wearing an approved buoyant work vest.
Remember that the designated Competent Person should be responsible for a majority, if not all of this. However, workers still need to be aware of industry scaffolding standards and requirements, not just because it is required by law, but because they are further protecting themselves in the process. Use this scaffolding safety checklist to help ensure that your are meeting all of these requirements while also protecting yourself and your coworkers.