Scaffolding Safety

Basic Scaffolding Safety Do’s and Don’ts


  1. Inspect the scaffold using a checklist before the work shift and ensure it is safe and in proper working order.
  2. Provide proper training.
  3. Have a toolbox talk before beginning work.
  4. Wear appropriate PPE.
  5. Always check inspection tags.
  6. Know the weight capacity of the scaffold.
  7. Have a handhold above the scaffold platform.
  8. Level the scaffold after each move. Do not extend adjusting leg screws more than 12 inches.
  9. Use your safety belts and lanyards when working on scaffolding at a height of 10 feet or more above ground level. Attach the lanyard to a secure member of the scaffold.
  10. Safely use the ladder when climbing the cross braces for access to the scaffold.
  11. Keep both feet on the decking.
  12. Stay off scaffold during loading or unloading.
  13. Ensure planking is overlapping or secured from movement.
  14. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when erecting the scaffold, under the direct supervision of a competent person.
  15. Be mindful of coworkers working above and below you at all times, as well as others working on the scaffold.
  16. Use the debris chutes or lower things by hoist or by hand.
  17. Chock the wheels of the rolling scaffold, using the wheel blocks, and also lock the wheels by using your foot to depress the wheel-lock, before using the scaffold.
  18. Always use netting to catch anything that falls.


  1. Leave anything on the scaffold at the end of your shift.
  2. Overload the scaffold.
  3. Use unstable objects such as barrels, boxes, loose brick or concrete blocks to support scaffolds, increase your work height or planks.
  4. Work on platforms or scaffolds unless they are fully planked.
  5. Use a scaffold unless guardrails and all flooring are in place.
  6. Stand on ties, guardrails, or extensions.
  7. Use the scaffold if it appears damaged in any way, has been tampered with, or if there are components missing such as planking, guardrails, toeboards, debris nets or protective canopies.
  8. Walk on scaffold planking covered in ice, snow or mud.
  9. Avoid using a scaffold during adverse weather such as heavy rain, sleet, ice snow or strong winds.
  10. Climb on any portion of the scaffold frame not intended for climbing.
  11. Never climb with any materials or tools in your hand, they should be hoisted up to the scaffold separately.
  12. Jump from, to, or between scaffolding.
  13. Lean out or overreach outside the guardrails.
  14. Rock the scaffold.
  15. Throw anything “overboard” unless a spotter is available.
  16. Move a mobile scaffold if anyone is on it.

Guidelines in Tagging Scaffolds

Scaffold tags are used to protect the lives of your workers. It identifies if a scaffold is safe or unsafe for use. Follow the guidelines below when tagging scaffolds.

  1. Inspection and tagging of the scaffold are to be performed by a competent person experienced in the erection of scaffold.
  2. A unique scaffold identification tag number must be clearly identified on all tags for tracking purposes.
  3. All scaffolds shall be inspected after the erection per regulatory requirements.
  4. All scaffold identification tags wlil be of a solid green, yellow, or red color with black lettering.
  5. Front information displayed and completed for each tag.
  6. It is common practice to use the following color schemes: Green, Yellow, Red
    • Green – tags will be hung on scaffolds that have been inspected and are safe for use. A green “SAFE FOR USE” tag(s), and should be attached to the scaffold at each access point after the initial inspection is complete.
      green tag
    • Yellow – “CAUTION” tag(s), will replace all green “Safe Scaffold” tag(s) whenever the scaffold has been modified to meet work requirements, and as a result, could present a hazard to the user. This tag indicates special requirements for safe use.
      yellow tag
      NOTE: Use of the “yellow tag” status is not intended to override the green tag system. All efforts should be made to return the scaffold to a “Green Tag” status as soon as possible.
    • Red – “DANGER – UNSAFE FOR USE” tag(s), will be used during erection or dismantling when the scaffold is left unattended and replace all green “Safe for Use ” tag(s) or yellow “Caution / Hazard “ tag(s) in the event a scaffold has been deemed unfit for use.
      red tag

What are some general safety tips for erecting scaffolding?

  • Choose the right scaffold system for the job.
  • Erect all scaffold parts according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Select scaffold according to:
    • height required
    • type and duration of work
    • range of weather conditions
    • weight of workers, materials and equipment
    • location
    • requirements for pedestrian traffic
  • Erect scaffold on a base that will support all the loads that will be applied including materials and equipment.
  • Make sure the backfill is compact and level. Replace mud and soft soil with gravel or crushed stone.
  • Provide adequate sills for scaffold posts and use base plates.
  • Set scaffold feet centrally on mudsills consisting of 50×250 mm (2×10 inches) planks. Sills should extend at least 610 mm (2 feet) beyond the scaffold base and be long enough to extend under at least two scaffold feet.
  • Install scaffold with jackscrews (adjusting screws). They allow for minor adjustments to help keep scaffold plumb and level.
  • Take extra precautions when erecting scaffold on frozen ground. Thawing soil can become water-soaked and lose its ability to bear weight.
  • Brace both sides of every frame for the vertical plane. Install horizontal bracing at the joint of every third tier of frames. This bracing is often attached to the point where the scaffold is tied to the structure.
  • Do not force braces to fit. Level the scaffold until a proper fit can be made easily.
  • Use coupling devices to join frames to prevent the joints from pulling apart.
  • Do not use nails or other devices in the place of proper retention parts as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Tie or brace the scaffold to a solid structure as appropriate.
  • Use a debris net, catch platform or similar structure where appropriate to catch falling objects.

What should I consider when installing guardrails?

Install guardrails consisting of:

  • a top rail 1 m (40 inches) above the platform
  • a midrail about halfway between the platform and the top rail on the inside of the posts
  • a toe board 100 mm (4 inches) high fastened to the inner side of posts
  • posts and rails capable of withstanding a force of at least 900 N (200 lb.) applied at any point, or withstanding any load likely to be applied. Exact load requirements may vary by the item tested, and by jurisdiction. Be sure to check your local occupational health and safety regulations for requirements.

What must I remember about the stability of scaffold?

Do not allow the ratio of scaffold height to base width to exceed 3 to 1 unless the scaffold is:

  • tied into a structure
  • stabilized by guy wires
  • secured by outriggers or stabilizers to maintain the ratio