Equipment Safety: Ladder and Scaffold Inspection Essentials

Equipment Safety: Ladder and Scaffold Inspection Essentials

07th September 2020

How often do you carry out inspections for your ladders and scaffolds? And who usually carries out these inspections? The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requires that the inspection be conducted by a competent person who has received appropriate training relevant to the type and complexity of the equipment they’re working on. This is a person who is capable of identifying respective hazards and has the authority to take prompt measures to eliminate the hazards and correct defects.

As an employer, you need to provide appropriate levels of supervision considering the complexity of the work and the levels of competence of safety ladders and scaffolds. The frequency of your periodic inspection depends on factors such as the intensity of use, site and weather condition, age and type of equipment, and how often different components are changed, added, or removed. These factors will help determine how quickly you can expect the development of defects such as loose connections, safety-related faults, and degradation.

Scaffolds Inspection Checklist

The inspection should be made after the scaffold has been erected, each time before it’s used, and periodically thereafter. Below are some of the things you should look for during the inspection:

  • The scaffold is erected at a safe distance from power lines.

  • The scaffold is level and plumb, resting on stable footing and firm foundation.

  • Where required, the platform guardrails are firmly in place on all open ends.

  • The platform is free of debris and slipping/tripping hazards.

  • Diagonal cross-bracing is in place to support the legs.

  • The scaffold doesn’t block exits, fire alarms, paths, egress, and fire suppression systems.

  • Safe access is provided by ramps, stairs, and ladders.

  • Working-level platforms are fully planked between guardrails and secured for stability.

  • The workers are using personal fall arrest systems when working at heights.

  • Indoor scaffolds are designed with suitable materials such as fire-retardant wood.

  • Installed toe boards, canopies, barricades, or screening provide adequate protection against falling objects.

  • Required bracing or ties are installed to maintain scaffold unit stability.

Ladder Inspection Checklist

Workers can inspect ladders themselves before each use. However, maintenance personnel should conduct thorough inspection periodically and after any tip-overs to ensure they’re in good condition. Below are some of the factors to consider when conducting the inspection (depending on the type of ladder):

  • Safety feet are solid and in place.

  • Metal parts are lubricated.

  • Steps or rungs are in good repair.

  • Side rails have no splits or cracks.

  • Sharp edges and splinters have been removed, filed away, or sanded.

  • Ropes are not worn or frayed.

  • Steps are free of oil, grease, mud, or sticky substances.

  • Metal ladders are free of dents.

  • Spreaders and other locking devices are in place and in good condition.

Ensure to conduct the inspection frequently enough to identify and fix the problems before they pose hazards to your workers. Inspect your scaffolds and ladders for visible defects before each work shift and after every event that could make them unsafe. For example, after transporting them or following a strong storm.

If you identify any problem after conducting an inspection, ensure to remove the equipment from service and place a tag on it to ensure nobody else uses it before the issue is fixed by qualified maintenance personnel.