Table of Contents
According to OSHA
The law requires regular scaffold inspections to be performed before each shift. Not only this, but OSHA also requires general contractors to have all their scaffolds and components inspected for structural defects.
These inspections need to be performed by a competent person before each work shift. An inspection should also be done after any occurrence that could compromise the structural integrity of the scaffold, ultimately putting employees in danger.
What Do Inspections Have To Do With Safety?
A scaffold can become unsafe in a variety of ways. It could get damaged from contact with a vehicle as well as from inclement weather like high winds. It could also potentially be altered by someone who is not authorized to do so. The importance of ensuring scaffolds remain safe is seen all too late when the worst happens: a scaffolding collapse occurs.
A scaffold collapse almost always ends in catastrophic injury or death. It endangers individuals working on the scaffold. During the scaffold collapse, however, it can also injure those beneath or near it.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 72% of individuals injured on scaffolding are caught in a plank that gave way, a section of the support system that fails, or just slipped on a plank. This is why inspections are so vital in preventing these incidents from occurring.
When Should Scaffolding Be Inspected?
OSHA states that all scaffolds must be inspected. This practice is important when it comes to discovering defects in the scaffolding or its components. However, this does not mean that every scaffolding structure needs to be inspected on a daily basis. An inspection is only required for scaffolding areas where employees will be working during the next work shift.
Every scaffolding structure must be inspected at least once every seven days. Any flaws and repair actions that are discovered during an inspection must be recorded.
Scaffolding Inspection Requirements
Scaffold inspections are prioritized according to risk. The larger the potential risk to a worker, the higher the need for an inspection. OSHA requires that all components of a scaffold, including fittings, beams, ropes, and frames, be examined on a regular basis before use.
The periodic inspection requirements for scaffolding should be carried out by a competent person. This individual must be able to identify defects and other hazards that could negatively impact employee safety. Defects include any of the following:
- Welding splatter
- Damaged elements
- Non-compatible elements
Competent Person Regarding Scaffolds
A competent person has many responsibilities to fulfill as well as expectations to live up to. Before being handed such a critical task, a competent person must receive adequate training and experience. According to OSHA’s scaffolding standards, a competent person must be able to recognize hazards within their work environment. This would include working conditions that are unsanitary or hazardous to other employees.
A competent person must also have the authority and ability to take prompt corrective measures toward eliminating the hazards. Once the scaffold has been approved and is safe to use, the competent person must ensure that it remains safe and suitable for the job.
Scaffold Components That Must Be Inspected
There are so many different elements to a scaffold. Each element contributes to the stability of the structure and the safety of the employees. Scaffolding safety checks should be made on all of the different components. The next sections will go into detail about each necessary component and what specific faults to check for.
The scaffold footings are metal base plates at the bottom of the scaffold standards. They are positioned above the timber sole plates in order to disperse the weight of the load across the ground. When inspecting the footings, check for any spots that:
- Are soft and uneven
- Have no base plates
- Have no sole plates
- Are undermined
Standards are upright tubes or poles used for vertical support. When performing an inspection on them watch for standards that are:
- Jointed at the same height
- Incorrectly spaced
- Damaged or bent
A ledger is a horizontal tube that is used to connect standards horizontally. During an inspection keep an eye out for ledgers that are:
- Not level
- Have joints in the same bay
Bracing tubes extend diagonally across the framework to strengthen and prevent movement of the scaffold structure. Always check to see if they are:
- Fitting wrong
Putlogs & Transoms
A putlog is a flattened tube that spans from a ledger to a building’s wall. A transom is a tube that spans ledgers to connect a scaffold transversely and may support a working platform. When inspecting these components, always look for putlogs and transoms that are:
- Wrongly spaced
- Wrongly supported
Scaffold couplings are metal components or links that are used to connect scaffold components to each other. Always keep an eye out for couplings that are:
- Fitting wrong
A bridle is a tube that is attached across an opening or parallel to a building’s wall to hold the inner end of a transom or tie tube. During an inspection, double check that bridles don’t have the wrong spacing or use the wrong type of couplers.
Ties are used to keep the scaffold steady by connecting it to stable sections of a building or structure. Always ensure that enough ties are being used and that each tie is tight.
Scaffold boards are typically made of wood and are put together to create a safe and stable working platform. When inspecting the boarding, always look for defects such as:
- Bad boards
- Trap boards
- Incomplete boarding
- Insufficient supports
Guardrails & Toeboards
Guardrails are horizontal tubes that are attached to standards all across working platforms to prevent falls. Toeboards are normally made of wood and are installed at the base of working platforms to keep people, materials, and tools from falling. While inspecting these components, always look for guardrails and toeboards that are:
- At the wrong height
- Missing elements
Ladders are used to gain access to different levels of the scaffold; however, steps are occasionally utilized to improve safety. Ladder defects include any part of the ladder that is:
- Insufficient in length
- Not up to code
Scaffold Access & Integrity
Inspecting the entry points and the integrity of the scaffolding as a whole is just as important as inspecting each and every individual component.
Never overload the scaffold with equipment or other supplies. All planks utilized in the scaffold’s construction must be able to withstand the weight or size of the load that will be imposed upon them. Scaffolding must be tied off and secured. Braces, uprights, and supports cannot be removed unless appropriate replacements are provided.
Access to all scaffold platforms must be safe and clear. Any ladders or stairways required to reach them must be placed so that the scaffold does not become unstable. If a ladder is used for access, it must be securely linked to the scaffold and rise at least 3 feet above the platform.
Safety Scaffolding Training
Every employee whose job will necessitate the need to use scaffolding must take and complete a training course that specifically covers OSHAs scaffolding standards. We here at Hard Hat Training offer many scaffolding training options including a a Scaffolding Certification train the trainer course that is OSHA Aligned as well as affordable. All of our training is designed to be engaging while also teaching all of the necessary safety information. Feel free to reach out to our customer service team for more information.
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