As you know, OSHA requires that a competent person inspect all scaffolds before each shift when it will be used and after any circumstances or events that could potentially affect their integrity. Ensuring that a scaffold is properly erected, used, and dismantled is crucial to job site safety—not just for the workers on the scaffold, but also for those below and all around it.
The following considerations should be used as a guide to scaffold inspection. It’s not an exhaustive list; each construction site has its own characteristics that necessitate other relevant considerations. But these general issues are the foundation of any reliable scaffold inspection.
What to Look for During Scaffold Inspections
- The most important part of any guide to scaffold inspection is emphasizing that it be performed by a competent person. OSHA defines a competent person as “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”
- Confirm that the scaffold conforms to the engineering plans and design requirements.
- Are the base plates and sills the right size and placed properly on an appropriate surface?
- Check that the scaffold is level and plumb, and that screw jacks are appropriately adjusted.
- Are enough bracing components properly attached to securely keep the scaffold in place and stable?
- Confirm that ties and/or guy systems (including outriggers or anchorages) meet requirements for height to base ratio.
- Are the planks and decking of an adequate grade and performance rating?
- Check that all openings and gaps are small enough to be safe or that workers are adequately protected by guardrails or other suitable methods.
- Are protection methods like guardrails and toeboards in place everywhere they’re needed?
- Confirm that all stairs and ladders are securely fastened, in good condition, and offering appropriate access and egress.
- Are all the individual scaffold components correctly installed and properly performing their functions?
- Check that the scaffold is erected with the minimum safe approach distance from power lines.
- Does the duty/load rating of the scaffold platform suffice?
For more on the subject, take a look at our article Top Tips for Scaffold Safety at Your Job Sites.