Scaffolding Operator Safety Checklist
Posted on August 25, 2021 in Scaffolding
Working at height is necessary for most construction, restoration, and repair projects. But constant vigilance and a commitment to safety are vital when working on scaffolding.
To ensure the safety of every person on the job site, it is important to inspect the scaffolding equipment and work area for potential hazards during installation, modification, and dismantling of the scaffold.
Checks must also be performed at frequent intervals throughout the project’s duration.
We’ll cover some common scaffold hazards and OSHA scaffold requirements in this article, and then we’ll provide a basic safety checklist you can reference at the end of this piece.
Common scaffold hazards include:
- Scaffolding collapses due to incorrectly built scaffolding that is difficult to construct.
- Scaffolding collapses due to carelessness with heavy equipment or materials resulting in damage to supports or an overload.
- Falls from scaffolding due to improper or inadequate guards and fall arrest equipment.
- Falling object injury due to improper or inadequate toe boards or barricades.
- Electrocution due to complicated scaffoldings that are difficult to design safely and meet minimum regulatory clearances and safe operation procedures.
OSHA Scaffold Requirements
Due to hazards, scaffoldings are strictly regulated by OSHA and the local government. OSHA establishes and updates universal safety rules and local governments adopt laws governing scaffold safety.
Here are some specific OSHA scaffold requirements you need to know.
OSHA scaffold requirements and recommendations:
- All employees must be trained by a qualified person to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used and how to control or minimize those hazards. The training must include fall hazards, falling object hazards, electrical hazards, proper use of the scaffold, and handling of materials. [29 CFR 1926.454(a)]
- Each scaffold and scaffold component must support without failure its own weight and at least 4 times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it. [29 CFR 1926.451(a)(1)]
- Scaffolds and scaffold components must not be loaded in excess of their maximum intended loads or rated capacities, whichever is less. [29 CFR 1926.451(f)(1)]
- Scaffold planking must be able to support, without failure, its own weight and at least four times the intended load. [29 CFR 1926.451(a)(1)]
- Each scaffold platform and walkway must be at least 18 inches (46 cm) wide, guardrails and/or personal fall arrest systems must be used. [29 CFR 1926.451(b)(2)]
- Each platform must be planked and decked as fully as possible with the space between the platform and uprights not more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. The space must not exceed 9½ inches (24.1 cm) when side brackets or odd-shaped structures result in a wider opening between the platform and the uprights. [29 CFR 1926.451(b)(1)]
- To ensure adequate protection, install guardrails along all open sides and ends before releasing the scaffold for use by employees, other than the erection and dismantling crews. [29 CFR 1926.451(g)(4)(i)]
- Employers must provide access when the scaffold platforms are more than 2 feet (0.6 m) above or below a point of access. [29 CFR 1926.451(e)(1)]
- Employers must provide fall protection for each employee on a scaffold more than 10 feet (3.1 m) above a lower level. [29 CFR 1926.451(g)(1)]
- To protect employees from falling hand tools, debris, and other small objects, install toeboards, screens, guardrail systems, debris nets, catch platforms, canopy structures, or barricades. In addition, employees must wear hard hats. [29 CFR 1926.451(h)(1), 29 CFR 1926.451(h)(2) and 29 CFR 1926.451(h)(3)]
OSHA Competent Person Requirements
A Competent Person is defined 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 the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” [29 CFR 1926.32(f)]
OSHA mandates that a Competent Person should be present to supervise the installation, modification, and dismantling of the scaffold. This person should perform daily inspections to check for flaws, hazards, or other issues.
Specific duties of a Competent Person when supervising and inspecting scaffolds include:
- Scaffolds should be erected, moved, dismantled, or altered under the supervision and direction of a Competent Person.
- Scaffold components of different manufacturers should not be modified or intermixed without the supervision and review of a Competent Person.
- Direct connections should be evaluated by a Competent Person to confirm supporting surfaces can support the loads.
- Ropes should be inspected for defects by a Competent Person prior to each work shift and after every occurrence which could affect a rope’s integrity.
- A Competent Person should determine whether it is possible to have employees use a safe means of access.
- Scaffolds should be inspected for visible defects by a Competent Person before each work shift, and after any occurrence which could affect a scaffold’s structural integrity.
- Work on scaffolds is prohibited during storms or high winds unless a Competent Person has determined that it is safe for use and employees are protected by a personal fall arrest system or windscreens.
- A Competent Person should determine the feasibility and safety of providing fall protection for employees erecting or dismantling supported scaffolds.
Scaffolding Safety Checklist
Now that we’ve covered the OSHA requirements, here is a general safety checklist you can use to ensure your job site is safe.
- A Competent Person supervised the installation, modification, and dismantling of the scaffold.
- All workers are trained to recognize and minimize hazards associated with the type of scaffolding used.
- Scaffolding components are complete, without defects, and appropriately installed.
- The scaffold should be secured to the structure.
- Leg braces are appropriately installed to the frame of the scaffold.
- Base plates and mud sills are adequately sized and rigidly installed to the frame of the scaffold.
- The scaffold, standards, and planks are leveled.
- Toeboards, tubes, planks, brackets should be rigidly installed; wedges should be tight.
- Scaffold platforms and walkways are at least 18 inches wide.
- All planks have a minimum of 12-inch overlap and extend 6 inches beyond supports.
- All OSHA required and necessary guardrails and barricades are installed appropriately.
- Workers are aware of scaffolding designs and account for the types of materials and equipment that can be safely supported by the scaffold.
- All clamps and locking mechanisms have been visually inspected and are secured.
- All scaffold access points have been visually inspected and are safe and secured.
SAFETY TAG INSPECTION
- A green “SAFE FOR USE” should be attached to scaffold components that were inspected and deemed safe for use.
- Any time a change in the work area or scaffolding occurs, the structure should be reexamined. A yellow “CAUTION” tag should be attached on modified scaffold components, replacing green “SAFE FOR USE” tags.
- A red “DO NOT USE” tag should be attached at scaffold access points and scaffold components that failed inspections and were deemed unsafe.
WORK AREA INSPECTION
- All workers and authorized visitors are wearing the appropriate Personal Protection Equipment.
- The work area around the scaffold has been visually inspected and is secured.
- The work platform is free of clutter, mud, oil, or any tripping hazard.
- Work area safety signs are placed at locations clearly visible to workers and authorized visitors.
The Scaffolding Solutions Commitment to Safety
At Scaffolding Solutions, we believe that there are no shortcuts to safety. Our company integrates safety into each employee’s job requirements and we hold our team to the highest standards.
To learn more about our safety standards and training, read through our scaffolding safety guide. You can also contact Scaffolding Solutions if you have any questions about erecting or dismantling a scaffold for your job site.
Read Our Guide to Scaffolding Safety