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Scaffold Inspections & Trained Inspector

LIA - Scaffold Inspections & To be a Trained and Authorised Inspector :

References  OSHA 3150 .

The below article is a guide line and is suitable for personnels who are in the field of inspections of Scaffolding  and to become an authorized scaffolding inspector.

It is the Employer /Hirer responsibility to ensure all Scaffold users are properly trained and scaffolding has been inspected as follows:

·       Following Inspection after Installation , Before first use or put into use.

·       Regular Inspections at an interval of no more than every 7 days thereafter

·       Following any circumstances liable to jeopardise the safety of the installation eg high winds.

All scaffolding inspection should be carried out by a competent person whose combination of knowledge, training and experience is appropriate for the type and complexity of the scaffold.  Competence may have been assessed for an individual may have received training in inspecting a specific type of system scaffold from a manufacturer/supplier.

A Non-Scaffolder who has attended a scaffold inspection course (eg a Site Supervisor / Safety Officer /Site Manager) could be deemed competent to inspect a basic scaffold structure.

The scaffold inspection report should note any defects or matters that could give rise to a risk to health and safety and any corrective actions taken, even when those actions are taken promptly, as this assists with the identification of any recurring problem.

Is the Scaffold Safe?

The design and structure of the scaffold itself is extremely important to the safety of the user. That's also why it's important to inspect your scaffold each and every time you prepare to use it. Check the following:

·       Be sure the footings are secure and capable of holding the weight that will be added.

·       Check the guardrails and they should be two inches by four inches and three to three and a half feet high.

·       OSHA requires that guardrail supports are spaced at least every 10 feet apart on all open sides of the scaffold.

·       Toe Guards at least four inches (4”) , high must run along all open sides.

·       Check to see that there are screens between the Toe Guards and Guardrails if people will be passing underneath the scaffold.

·       Make sure all cross braces are secure.

·       Always have a ladder handy to get on and off the scaffold.

·       On wooden scaffolds, check to see that planks extend six to 18 inches beyond the end supports.

·       Make sure that poles and legs are secure.

Am I Using the Appropriate Protective Equipment?

Keep the following points in mind when working with scaffolds:

·       Hard hats are required gear whether your working on a scaffold or near one.

·       When working on a scaffold, wear non-skid shoes.

·       When working on swinging scaffolds, use a safety belt attached to either a secure line or to a structure - not to the scaffold.

In some cases, you should also use a net to catch falling tools, or tolls you no longer need -but not to catch you.

Am I Following Safe Work Practices?

Here are some general do's and don'ts for working safely on scaffolds:

·       Be sure the scaffold is firmly secured

·       Never overload it, keeping only the tools and materials you need on the scaffold

·       If working outdoors in bad weather, put sand on the surface of the scaffold to prevent slipping

·       Remove all equipment and debris from scaffold at the end of your shift

·       Always watch out below

·       A lot can go wrong when working on scaffolding. We talked to safety experts about some safety essentials when working from heights.


Despite the dangers it has, however, working on a scaffold can be straightforward and safe if everyone involved follows below procedures :

Ensure everyone is properly trained :

Safety regulations require that workers be trained in the design and operation of scaffolding. Training covers important safe work practices such as how to safely get on and off the scaffold (using an access ladder, not the scaffold frame, unless it is specially designed to be climbed and both hands are free to grab the rungs). It should also cover comprehensive fall protection training specific to the type of scaffolding, erecting and dismantling procedures for anyone involved in these activities, and a host of other lifesaving details.

Take the time for preparation of  work :

Before using scaffolding, make sure :


·       The base is sound,

·       In Level and adjusted ,

·       The legs are plumb ,

·       All braces in place ,

·       Locking devices and ties are secured ,

·       Cross members are in level ,

·       The planks, decks and guardrails are installed and secure.


Check the location for ground conditions  such as slopes, and stay clear away from hazards such as overhead wires, obstructions and changes in surface elevation. 

Know and respect the load capacity :

Failure to consider all the loads to which the scaffold may be subjected is one of the top things that go wrong at the design stage. The scaffold must be strong enough and capable of holding the desired weight, otherwise it could collapse. Don’t try to fit more workers on the platform than it can handle; don’t overload it with equipment and materials; and don’t rest anything on the guardrails.

Ensure the scaffold is properly secured :

The scaffold must be adequately braced or tied to the building. If it is wrapped in a tarp for protection from the elements, it could blow over if it isn’t secured. Bracing must be properly secured in place, otherwise scaffold movement may dislodge an end, reducing the stability of the scaffold. There are several different brace retention or locking systems found on scaffolds. These devices must operate freely for ease of assembly and dismantling, and also lock securely to prevent a brace from dislodging. Nails and other miscellaneous odds and ends should not be used in place of proper retention parts supplied by the manufacturer.

Use Proper Guardrails :

The design of the scaffold must incorporate guardrails on at least the three sides facing away from the building if the scaffold is more than 10 feet above ground. There should be a Top rail, a Mid rail and a Bottom rail /Toe Guard. If you must remove any guardrails while hoisting materials, replace them promptly. Wear fall protection at all times.

Inspect and maintain :

Scaffolding must be routinely inspected by the supervisor and by a competent person, ideally a professional engineer or a person designated in writing by a professional engineer. In the case of a suspended platform, inspect and test all components including welds, stirrups, connecting pins, connecting plates, trusses, beams and working surface. Check that the lumber is of good quality. If any pieces get broken or damaged, replace them right away. Inspect frames, braces and other components for damage, bends and excessive rust or wear. Also check motors, platforms or wire ropes for damage from chemicals or corrosive material.

Good housekeeping :

There isn’t much room on a scaffold, so it’s important to store tools and materials in an orderly fashion. Keep the platform free of obstructions. Place debris and waste material in a container or remove it from the platform immediately. 

Keep your balance :

A scaffold and its platform must be perfectly level , to minimize the risk of workers losing balance and falling off. Particularly on swing stages, there must be an adequately weighted counterweight. Pay attention when working on a scaffold. Any sudden movements, or reaching too far from the platform, can cause a loss of balance.

Use appropriate PPE :

This includes head protection, non-slip protective footwear  and fall protection as required, in the form of a safety harness tied off to a solid structure, such as the building. Ontario’s construction safety regulations indicate that the harness can be tied off to the suspended platform or scaffold only “if all or part of the platform or scaffold has more than one independent means of support and the platform or scaffold is so designed, constructed and maintained that the failure of one means of support will not cause the collapse of all or part of the platform or scaffold.”