Scaffold Safety

Every year nearly 100 fatalities and 10,000 injuries occur on scaffolding across the country, despite numerous safety regulations aimed to prevent such incidents.  There are a number of different scaffold types, having different rules and regulations surrounding their assembly, fall prevention requirements, and inspection procedures.

General rules for all scaffolding

  • All employees who work on scaffolding must receive training from their employer. 
  • A competent person shall be clearly identified for all scaffolding work.
  • Guardrails & toeboards shall be installed on all open sides/ends of scaffolding platforms 10 feet or more above ground or floor level.
  • Employees shall not climb cross braces or end frames unless end frames are designed and constructed to be climbed.  An access ladder, stair tower or equivalent safe access shall be provided for all scaffolding.
  • Do not use a ladder or other device on scaffolding platforms to increase height or reach. 
  • Never use scaffolding until it is inspected and signed off by the competent person.


  • At the beginning of each shift scaffolding must be inspected by a competent person.  In addition, scaffolding must also be inspected after an event that may have compromised the structural integrity of the system.

Assembling and disassembling scaffolding.

  • Scaffolding must be plumb, level, erected and used on a firm, level surface and capable of supporting the loaded scaffold without settling or displacement.
  • Wheels or base plates must be used to establish a firm, level base. 
  • Mud sills must be used if the scaffolding is constructed on soft or unstable ground.
  • Where people are required to work or pass under or near any scaffolding, a mesh screen shall be provided between the toeboard and the top guardrail.
  • Planks shall not extend over the end supports less than 6 inches or more than 12 inches.
  • Free‐standing scaffolding towers shall not be higher than four times the maximum base dimension unless adequately secured to a suitable structure.
  • Scaffolding erected adjacent to any structure shall be secured and braced to that structure at intervals not to exceed 30 feet horizontal and 26 feet vertically.

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • What types of scaffold are used on this project?
  • Have these scaffolds be erected by a competent person?
  • Is the scaffold in good condition and has it been erected properly?