Safety Toolbox Talks


Scarcely a day passes that we don’t read of or hear about someone being injured or killed in a scaffold fall. Faulty design and inadequate construction are sometimes involved but, in most cases, scaffold accidents are caused by careless maintenance and improper use. Help keep your scaffolds safe by observing these simple procedures:

  • Inspect scaffolds daily prior to use, particularly guardrails, connectors, fastenings, footings, tie-ins, and bracing
  • Keep platform closely boarded. The space between scaffold planks should not exceed a half inch
  • Keep platforms fenced and securely fastened. Tube and frame scaffolds must be tied to the permanent structure at intervals of 30 feet horizontally and 26 feet vertically
  • Don’t stockpile materials on scaffolds; remove all materials at the end of the day
  • Never overload scaffolds. Pile materials being worked over ledger and bearer points to minimize platform loading
  • Don’t work on scaffolds during storms or high winds, and clear platforms of all ice ands now before using. Sand wet platforms to prevent slipping.
  • Protect scaffolds. Don’t bump or strike against scaffolds with vehicles or materials. Control hoisted material from the ground with taglines
  • Prior to moving portable scaffolds, make sure platform planks are securely fastened or remove them
  • Keep platforms and the area around scaffolds cleared of debris, unneeded equipment, material, and other hazards that will cause you to trip or fall

Scaffold Safety Rules

Supported scaffolds must sit on base plates and mud sills or other steady foundations.

  • Objects such as blocks of wood or buckets must not be used to support scaffolds or be used as working platforms
  • Supported scaffold poles, legs, posts, frames and uprights must be perfectly vertical and braced to prevent swaying and movement
  • The inboard ends of suspension scaffold outriggers must be stabilized by bolts or other direct connections to the floor or roof deck, or stabilized by counterweights
  • The connections must be checked before you use a suspension scaffold
  • Counterweights must be secured by mechanical means to the outrigger beams of a suspension scaffold. They can’t be made of flowable material, such as gravel, or construction materials, such as masonry units or rolls of roofing felt
  • Suspension ropes must be inspected before each work shift and after every event which could affect a rope’s integrity
  • Report any rope problems to your supervisor, such as any physical damage which doesn’t allow the rope to work properly or that makes it weaker; kinks that might cause a problem during tracking or wrapping around a drum; and broken wire strands, abrasions, corrosion or flattening, causing loss of more than one-third of the original diameter of the outside wires
  • Gasoline-powered equipment and hoists must not be used on suspension scaffolds
  • Gears and brakes of power operated hoists used on suspension scaffolds must been closed to prevent pinch hazards
  • Two-point and multipoint suspension scaffolds must be tied or secured to prevent them from swaying. Window cleaners’ anchors can’t be used for this purpose

Platforms and You

  • For every 4 feet of a scaffold’s height, its plank must be at least I foot wide. If it isn’t, it must be protected from tipping by tying, bracing or guying
  • The front edge of the platform must not be more than 14 inches from the face of your work unless guardrails are erected along the front edge. Note that the maximum distance from the face of work for plastering and lathing is 18 inches
  • The ends of your platform, unless cleated or somehow restrained. must extend over the center line of its support at least 6 inches except when each end of your platform is 10feet or less in length, and then it must not extend over its support more than 12 inches.When each end of a platform is greater than 10 feet in length, it must not extend over its support more than 18 inches, unless it’s designed to support workers and/or materials without tipping, or it has guardrails to block workers’ access to the platform end
  • Wooden platform planks should be rough-dressed, seasoned, straight-grained and free of knots
  • Never drill, cut or nail into planks or allow them to be damaged by welding sparks or by throwing them
  • Test the plank by laying it across two concrete blocks and having two people stand in the center
  • Always secure the plank by wiring it to the scaffold

Using Scaffolds

  • Before each shift, inspect the scaffold and plank for defects
  • Always inspect the scaffold to ensure all pins and clips are in place. Look for any damage or parts that need repair
  • Never load a scaffold to more than its maximum intended load or rated capacity
  • Never work on scaffolds during storms or high winds
  • Avoid letting debris accumulate on your scaffold
  • Remove elements such as ice, snow, water, grease, mud and other slippery materials from your scaffold
  • Always use fall protection when working on a scaffold platform
  • Never use the cross braces to gain access to a scaffold
  • Never use improvised scaffolding such as piling boxes on top of the plank
  • Remove all materials and tools from scaffolding at the end of the day
  • Place screen or toe boards around the scaffold to keep objects from falling off
  • Never allow vehicles or materials to bump or strike scaffolds


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