By David H. Glabe, P.E. / June 30, 1999

I am frequently asked how I inspect scaffolds and whether there is a checklist available for use for supported scaffolds. Here is a checklist that I developed and can be used for supported scaffolds:




This inspection procedure is intended to be used as a guideline in the evaluation of constructed scaffolds. This procedure is not intended to be a substitute for training, experience, and knowledge. All scaffolds, by law, must be constructed under the supervision f a competent person, a person who can identify hazards and has the authority to eliminate those hazards.


Consider the following:


___Familiarize yourself with all applicable codes, standards, and regulations, including company rules.

___Inspect the overall jobsite for organization, housekeeping, coordination of workers, safety equipment, and safety procedures.

___Observe the erection crew for procedure, fall protection, coordination, and organization.

___Observe the overall scaffold. Does it appear to be constructed properly?

___Does the overall appearance of the scaffold suggest quality construction?

___Is the scaffold plumb?

___Is the scaffold level?

___Are guardrail systems installed on all open platforms?

___Is the guardrail system between 36 and 45 inches high? (42-45 inches in CA)

___Is the guardrail system strong enough?

___If there is no guardrail system, are occupants wearing proper fall arrest equipment?

___Is falling object protection provided where required?

___Sight up the scaffold. Is it straight or is there an “s” curve?

___Inspect the foundation. Are there sills?

___If screwjacks are used, are the handles tight?

___Are there base plates?

___Is there full contact between the base plates and the sills and/or foundations?

___Is there any evidence of settlement?

___Is there any evidence of wet soil or erosion?

___Is the ground or soil compacted?

___Is there access?

___How high is the first step? (It should be less than 24 inches)

___ If a ladder is used, is there a rest platform at 35 feet or less?

___Does the ladder extend above the top platform or is there a handhold?

___Is the ladder rung spacing less than 16-3/4 inches?

___Is there proper access between the ladder and the platform?

___If a stairway is used, are the handrails installed and the guardrails installed?

___Is the scaffold tied to the structure?

___If there are no ties, is the height to base ratio less than 4 to 1? (Or 3 to 1in come states)

___Inspect the ties. Can they resist both tension and compression loads?

___What is the tie spacing? (Assuming that ties are required)

___Is the scaffold tied to the structure at proper intervals?

___How do the platforms look?

___Are all platforms at least 18 inches wide?

___Is the space between the platform and the work surface less than 14 inches? (18 inches for plasterers and latherers)

___If the space is more than 14 inches, is fall protection provided?

___If not, are the workers properly protected from falls?

___What is the maximum spacing between plank? (It should be less than 1”unless you can show this is not possible; e.g. around scaffold legs)

___Is the maximum space between the platform and the guardrail system less than 9-1/2”?

___Are the spans of the plank consistent with the strength of the plank?

___Is there proper support for the plank?

___Is the plank overlap sufficient? (12 inches minimum)

___Is the plank overhang sufficient? (6 inches minimum, 12 inches max for 10’ plank, 18 inches max for 16’ plank)

___If the plank do not have sufficient overhang/overlap, are the plank secured against movement?

___Are the plank secured from uplift?

___Are cantilevers minimized and within the regulations?

___Is the scaffold tagged in any way that would limit the use?

___Are there any electrical lines that might energize the scaffold? (and the workers!)

___If side brackets are used, are they properly installed?

___Are all scaffold components in good condition?

___Are the materials loaded on the scaffold safely supported?

___Is the scaffold overloaded?

___Are the users of the scaffold trained in the recognition of electrical, fall, and falling object hazards?


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David H. Glabe, P.E.

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