General Cleaning and Repairs of Your Scaffolding

Scaffold components must be regularly cleaned and inspected to ensure they are maintained in optimum condition and working order. Care of scaffold components will provide a safe and reliable scaffolding system.

All components should be regularly inspected and cleaned. In cases of severe deterioration, the components should be discarded. Superficial cleaning should be carried out by scraping, brushing or other abrasive methods which do not affect any surface treatment such as galvanising.Clean the threads on adjustable baseplates by wire brushing. Keep the scaffold as clean as possible but especially where sections are designed to join to each other (for example: adjustable baseplates, pinlocks and all pivoting connections).

Threaded parts require particular care when any treatment involving special cleaning processes or the deposit of protective coatings is applied, to ensure that threads retain their shape and size.


An example of dirty (left) and clean (right) scaffold components.

A scaffolder is very limited to the type of repairs they are authorised to carry out. All repairs must be performed by qualified persons who have received instructions specific to the equipment being repaired. Some points to consider in the repair of equipment include:

  • Consult the manufacturer before attempting any repairs – there are many things that cannot be done to repair scaffolds.
  • Only suitably qualified and competent persons should determine whether scaffolding components can be repaired or should be disposed of.
  • Only qualified and approved persons should repair scaffold components.
  • If there is any doubt about the soundness of component parts, the said component should be disposed of.
  • Only genuine and approved manufacturer’s parts should be used to replace damaged or worn components.


Examples of broken/damaged scaffold components to be repaired.

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Maintenance, Testing and Verification of Scaffold Planks

We will have a look at maintenace and testing of scaffold planks to assist users in maximising their service life while maintaining a nescessary level of safety.Maintenance, entailing regular inspections and testing is nescessary to ensure that scaffold planks nearing the end of their service life (and that are no longer safe for use) are detected and removed from service.To maximise service life and ensure safety in use, planks should not be subjected to mechanical, physical or chemical forces. Such forces are likely to cause damage and render the plank unsafe for use.

A few important things to remember are listed below:

  • Clean and maintain scaffold planks regulary
  • Avoid overloading and stressing planks
  • Do not drop heavy materials or objects onto planks
  • Do not drop scaffold planks from excessive heights
  • Do not use scaffold planks over spans greater than those recommended
  • Provide regular support over long spans
  • Inspect scaffold planks regulary in accordance with recommended inspection regimes
  • Remove any planks with obvious defects from service

Where planks have been subjected to physical, mechanical or chemical degradation, they must be tested to verify continued use. Fractures resulting from overload may not be readily apparent by inspection, proof testing is the only means of detection. Therefore regular inspection and strength testing is recommended.Whilst planks are largely unaffected by exposure to moderate strength acids or alkalis, strong acids and alkalis will attack the naturally occurring lignin which binds wood fibre and in time cause a reduction in plank strength.  For planks used in these environments regular proof testing is recommended.The frequency of testing depends upon the nature of use.  Furthermore, any plank subject to trauma or showing any obvious signs of degradation should be withdrawn from use pending verification of strength by proof testing.



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Inspection of Erected Scaffolding

Erected scaffolding should be inspected as part of a regular schedule and at certain key times in the operational cycle of the structure.

This means scaffold should be inspected:

  • at commissioning
  • daily – prior to use
  • routinely – every 30 days by a qualified person
  • prior to dismantling

Apart from routine inspections, the principles of hazard identification and reporting should be employed at all times. This means, personnel working on or around scaffolding should be alert to scaffold hazards. People should also be aware of their obligations to report scaffold damage, site conditions or work practices that could place people at risk.

A system of scaffold tagging is recommended to communicate the operational status of a scaffolding structure.


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Scaffold Loads & Design

When designing a scaffolding structure, there are many things to consider when working out the required components. The first of which is the function of the scaffold. We will look at determining whether a light, medium or heavy duty structure is required.Firstly though, it is important to know what kind of load the structure will be required to support. In scaffolding, load is normally considered in terms of dead load and the duty live load.

The dead load generally refers to the weight of the scaffold itself. This includes the weight of the standard and all connected components such as the frames, crossbraces, planks, guardrails and attachments. The dead load increases with the height of the scaffold. Other forces such as environmental factors contribute to the dead load (water and ice for example).The duty live load considers the function of the scaffold and the loads it carries. Function is best described as the use to be made of the scaffold structure (ligh, medium or heavy duty use). The nature of the work to be performed on the scaffold is a good indicator of the duty live load. For example, a bricklayer is more likely to impose a heavier load than a painter as the weight of the bricks is much higher than some cans of paint. The live load accounts for tha materials and equipment to be used and stored on the scaffold as well as the maximum number of people working on it at any given time.

A scaffold should be designed to carry the required number of working platforms and also to support the live load.

When designing scaffolds and estimating component requirements, follow the required specifications outlined in the table below.

*Materials must not be stored on light duty working platforms that have the minimum allowable width.

Heavy Duty Scaffold

Medium Duty Scaffold

Medium Duty Scaffold

Heavy Duty Scaffold

Duty Classificationas specified inASNZS 1576.1Approximate maximumtotal load for people &materials

Kg per platform per bay

Approximate maximummass of any singleconcentrated load of

materials or equipment

(as part of total load)

 Minimum length andwidth of platform(mm) 
Light Duty*225100450
Medium Duty450150900
Heavy Duty6752001000
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Health & Safety Guidelines For Scaffold Users

Some might call it a hassle, but the fact of the matter is that health and safety regulations are there to protect all of us. We will look at some of these as a safety should really be a priority. If your job may require you to use a scaffold in order to carry out certain job functions, before commencing work, make sure you are familiar with the safe working guidelines for using scaffolding hire.

Users of scaffolding should be aware of the general use specifications and adhere to them at all times. Some of the more common hazards created by users are summarised below as important guidelines for use. These guidelines are not exhaustive and individual organisations should assess the risk associated with the use of scaffolding hire as it pertains to the job and work environment and ensure their employees are adequately trained and competent to use scaffolding in a safe manner.

  • Do not work on scaffolding until you have been properly inducted in its use and assessed as competent.
  •  Do not work on scaffolding until it has been inspected for your shift and is tagged as “Approved Ready to Use”.
  •  Always inspect (visual inspection) scaffold before use. Check for missing parts, ensure ladder access, full planking, guardrails and ties are in place. Check foundations for subsidence. Ensure the scaffold is plumb, rigid and square.
  •  Do not work on scaffolding if you notice any components which are damaged. Report damaged scaffold components immediately.
  •  Use only scaffolds that are correctly shored ie plumb, square and rigid.
  •  Do not work on scaffolding in inclement weather ie wet, raining, excessive wind or lightning. Assess climatic and environmental conditions before commencing work.
  •  Do not work on ice or snow covered platforms.
  •  Do not abuse or misuse scaffold equipment.  Only use equipment the way it was intended.
  •  Keep all equipment in good repair.
  •  Do not use a scaffold unless a proper ladder or other equivalent safe means of access has been provided.
  •  Enter scaffolds by the safe means of access. Never climb guardrails or the scaffold itself.
  •  Do not climb on braces.
  •  Do not use a scaffold if the working platform is not planked all the way across. Do not use the scaffold if there is only one or two planks where there should be more.
  •  Do not use a scaffold if the planks are not scaffold grade. Scaffold grade planks will be clearly and legibly stamped with the weight bearing load and Standard conformance number.
  •  Do not use a scaffold if the planks are bowing.
  •  Do not work on a scaffold if you feel weak, sick or dizzy or are taking medication that causes drowsiness or impairs reflexes. Never use drugs or alcohol on a scaffold.
  •  Always wear the correct PPE for the job and worksite. If you are unsure of the correct PPE – see your supervisor before commencing work.
  •  Use both hands when climbing onto scaffold platforms. Use the designated ladder and maintain a firm grip whilst climbing. Do not carry materials as you climb. Keep both hands on the side rails.
  •  Do not jump onto planks or platforms.
  •  Do not stack materials higher than guardrail mesh or toeboard.
  •  Do not overload the platform by more than its intended uniform loading.
  •  Do not overload the scaffold by point loading a plank above its capacity.
  •  Do not overload a platform by point loading a tube above its capacity.
  •  Do not bridge between two scaffolds by stages.
  •  Do not use the scaffold unless proper falling object protection for the users and workers below has been provided.
  •  Do not allow tools, materials or debris to accumulate on scaffold platforms and cause a hazard.
  •  Stand on platform only – not on guardrails, extra ladders, trestles, boxes etc to increase height.
  •  Do not use platform brackets/hop ups without conducting a risk assessment of the overturning effect on the scaffold structure.
  •  Platform bracket/hop ups are for personnel only. NOT material storage.
  •  Do not alter the scaffold. Certified scaffolders may only perform scaffold alterations.
  •  Do not use heat producing activities such as welding or insulation removal without taking precautions to protect the scaffold members.
  •  Do not use a scaffold as a material hoist tower or for the mounting of derricks unless the scaffold is designed for such use.
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