How often should scaffolding be inspected?

Health and safety is fundamental in construction and scaffolding erectors are responsible for providing a safe place for their employees to work. We explain how scaffolding should be inspected and who should be in charge of these inspections to ensure that it meets all safety requirements.

How often should scaffolding be inspected? 

It’s a legal requirement for scaffolding to be inspected under the Work at Height regulations 2005. Scaffolding inspections must be carried out following the installation and before the structure is used. After these initial checks, scaffolding must be inspected on a regular basis and at a minimum of once every seven days. 

Further inspections may be required if there’s the chance that the scaffolding has been damaged or altered, therefore impacting the safety of the structure. This could include bad weather conditions or workers making modifications to the scaffolding.  

What are the work at height regulations? 

The Work at Height regulations 2005 set rules for working platforms that are used for construction work and from which a person could fall two metres or more. These regulations include:

  • Scaffolding must be inspected before it’s used
  • Scaffolds must be inspected every seven days
  • Scaffolds must be inspected following an impact which could affect the safety of the structure 
  • Inspection reports need to printable and secure from loss
  • The inspection report must be complete before the end of the working period and passed on to the client within 24 hours 
  • Reports must be kept on site until the work is complete and after for at least three months.

Who should conduct scaffolding inspections? 

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to inspect scaffolding you must be a designated ‘competent person’ who has the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to carry out inspections effectively. Usually this is someone who holds a construction industry scaffolders record scheme (CISRS) qualification. However, for complex or commercial structure, you’ll specifically need a CISRS advanced scaffolding cardholder.

Inspections can be carried out by a worker within the company or an independent inspector. You can complete training to perform scaffolding inspections for your workplace which provides the theoretical knowledge required in accordance with the law. Once complete you’ll be issued with an ESS certificate for basic scaffolding inspection, which will last three years. 

What should be checked during inspections?

Scaffolding inspectors will check to ensure that the entire structure is safe by looking for signs of damage or incorrect installation. All components of the scaffolding should be checked including:

  • Foundations 
  • The base lift
  • Standards 
  • Ledgers
  • Putlogs and transoms
  • Coupling, bridles and ties 
  • Guardrails 
  • Stair access and ladders 

What needs to be included in an inspection report? 

To ensure the inspection has been carried out by a qualified individual, the report must be completely filled in correctly. Required information includes: 

  • Name and address of the person for whom the inspection was conducted
  • Name and position of the person who carried out the inspection
  • The location, date and time of the inspection
  • A description of the work and scaffolding
  • Details of any potential risks identified
  • Details of any action taken as a result of found errors 
  • Details of any further action considered necessary
  • Name and position of the person making the report

Why are scaffolding safety inspections important? 

Regular scaffolding inspections are important as it ensures that they’re stable and secure. An insufficient set up or damaged equipment could result in scaffolding collapsing or other accidents on site, increasing the risk of injury upon workers and members of the public. 

Along with this, there can be serious legal and financial penalties for the company and individuals involved if regulations are not withheld. It’s standard that all employers must assess the risks of the health and safety of their employees and the public who may be affected by the work according to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Employers can therefore face unlimited fines and up to two years in prison if they fail to provide a safe working environment. 

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