Scaffolding Inspection: How and Why It Is Important

Oct. 21, 2020

Why check scaffolding?

Since 1971, the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Standards Committee has established and implemented clear standards using scaffolding, but accidents related to scaffolding still occur in the workplace, causing many construction workers to suffer serious injuries or even death.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 72% of people who unfortunately suffer from scaffolding-related injuries are wrapped in a plank, and part of the supporting structure is broken or only slipped on a plank (the last one is the most common cause of scaffolding-related accidents) .

Although about three-quarters of these workers received formal training on scaffolding safety, accidents occurred regardless of their knowledge. In fact, the only way to ensure that the frequency of these scaffolding accidents is reduced is to make regular inspections of the site's scaffolding.

It is required to check the scaffolding at least once a week after installation/before first use, and every time bad weather may affect the structural integrity. However, the ideal situation is that the workload of inspecting scaffolding far exceeds the minimum requirements set by OSHA.

If someone is injured or killed in a scaffolding accident, the company will also take responsibility. The company may face the consequences of violations and receive a large number of OSHA citations. These citations are also monetary fines and will cost the company a heavy price.

How to check scaffolding

First of all, it is extremely important that scaffolding should only be inspected by personnel who have a thorough knowledge of scaffolding safety. This person must receive proper training and experience before assigning this critical task. If the person finds a problem in the scaffolding, it is important that they have the right to demand that appropriate safety measures be taken.


If the scaffolding is not built from the beginning, the safety of the scaffolding will be compromised. The scaffolding design must come from a licensed engineer who must exceed the guidelines outlined by OSHA. Scaffolding using any materials other than scaffold-grade materials must be immediately rejected, because the use of debris such as barrels and bricks to build the scaffolding will result in a weak composition.

Danger around scaffolding

In the scaffold inspection process, the most important thing is to check whether all power lines near the scaffold are cut off. There should be no active power cords, tools or materials within 10 feet of the scaffolding.

Security access is another important thing to note. Never use the scaffold itself as a ladder, and any ladders or stairs used to access the scaffold must be placed strategically, as incorrect placement can threaten the stability of the structure.

It must be firmly attached to the bracket, and any ladder must extend the bracket at least 3 feet above the platform. The threat of overhead can not be ignored. If it continues to rain or wind, scaffolding should be stopped immediately. Any spills that may cause slipping must also be removed immediately.

Scaffold Tagout

Scaffold Tagout

Structural issues

All planks used on the scaffolding must be strong enough to withstand the expected load because it is important not to overload the scaffolding. The scaffolding' can never be removed without a suitable replacement support structure, otherwise, the scaffolding is not suitable for any purpose. If the height of the scaffold is more than 10 feet, additional guardrails are required on all open sides and ends, and smaller scaffolding may require these guardrails regardless of height. Scaffolds over 10 feet in height must also have toe boards. The toe board must be at least 4 inches high, and a layer of wire mesh must be placed between the toe board and the guardrail.

Before each shift, the rope must be inspected, as if the rope is defective and eventually breaks, which can cause a huge accident. If the scaffold is not suspended by ropes, it is still important to periodically check the base to ensure it is firm. The feet, uprights, frames and uprights must be firmly connected to the bottom plate and bottom beam.

The plank must not be cracked or warped larger than .25 inches. Long cracks, large nodules, mold and grain tilt were found on the board, which means that the board is no longer suitable for use. Planks under 10 feet must be 6 to 12 inches above the centerline of the support structure, and the ends of longer planks should not exceed 18 inches.

Scaffold Tagout

Scaffolds must also be marked with scaffold tags to indicate their safety after each scaffold inspection. The green label indicates that the structure is completely safe to use, while the yellow label is used for scaffolding that was once unsafe but has been fixed for reuse. These yellow-marked scaffolding may pose a threat, but they should be safe enough for work.

Once the device is permanently fixed and checked again, the label can be changed to green or red depending on the verdict of the check.

Regular inspections: compliance and injury prevention

Regular inspection of scaffolding is a good business practice and a necessary condition to ensure that your business complies with safety regulations and OSHA requirements. Please follow the tips in this guide to ensure that your contractors, employees, and other personnel stay safe and protected.