Scaffold Inspection Checklist

Heighten safety in scaffolding work with a mobile app

Published 26 Nov 2021

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.

This article will feature the following:

Why are Scaffolding Safety Inspections Important?

Scaffolding safety inspections are important because 65% of construction workers, or 2.3 million of them, frequently work on scaffolds according to OSHA. 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. 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 – helping protect the livelihood of the workers involved.

Learn the DO’s and DONT’s of scaffolding safety in this article.

What do you Need to Check Before Using the Scaffold?

Use a scaffold inspection checklist like this template based on OSHA to check the following before using a supported scaffold:

  1. 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.
  2. Make sure that tools and materials are at least 10 feet away from energized power lines.
  3. Verify that the scaffold is the correct type for the loads, materials, workers and weather conditions.
  4. Check footings to see if they are level, sound, rigid, and capable of supporting the loaded scaffold.
  5. Check legs, posts, frames, and uprights to see if they are on baseplates and mudsills.
  6. Check metal components for bends, cracks, holes, rust, welding splatter, pits, broken welds, and non-compatible parts.
  7. Check for safe access. Do not use the cross braces as a ladder for access or exit.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Check to see if the planks are close together, with spaces no more than 1 inch around uprights.
  11. 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.
  12. Check to see if the platform is 14 inches or less from the wall or 18 inches or less away if plastering/stucco.
  13. Check for guardrails and mid-rails on platforms where work is being done.
  14. Check for workers under the platform and provide falling object protection or barricade the area. Make sure that hard hats are worn.
  15. 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
  • 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.

OSHA Scaffold Inspection Requirements

OSHA provides a comprehensive directive regarding the inspection of scaffolding used in construction work. Below, we will be highlighting a few key sections to act as a quick guide to scaffolding safety:

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.

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.

Scaffolding Tags: Requirements

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

Scaffold Safety Tool

Using a mobile scaffold inspection checklist from iAuditor by SafetyCulture, you can perform comprehensive inspections to ensure that scaffolding in construction sites meet relevant safety standards. Record data, capture photos, and recommend corrective actions so scaffolding risks and hazards are taken care of. 

Know how to conduct better inspections by downloading this collection of general and featured OSHA checklists covering scaffold quality evaluations and other best practice scaffold inspection checklist, and customize them to suit your own scaffolding safety requirements.

Juhlian Pimping - Author Bio

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Juhlian Pimping

Juhlian Pimping has been writing about safety and quality topics for SafetyCulture since 2018. Before writing for SafetyCulture full-time, Juhlian worked in customer service and wrote for an Australian RTO.

Juhlian Pimping has been writing about safety and quality topics for SafetyCulture since 2018. Before writing for SafetyCulture full-time, Juhlian worked in customer service and wrote for an Australian RTO.