An evaluation of scaffold safety at construction sites

J Safety Res. 2004;35(2):141-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2003.11.004.


Problem: This study evaluated common scaffold safety practices in construction.

Method: A 150-point checklist was used to evaluate supported scaffold safety practices at 113 scaffolds in nine areas of the eastern United States.

Results: Thirty-six scaffolds (31.9%) were either in danger of collapse or missing planking, guardrails, or adequate access. There was a strong statistical correlation between structural flaws and fall protection hazards, and between proper scaffold safety practice and (a) competent persons with scaffold safety training, (b) use of separate scaffold erection contractors, and (c) scaffolds that were not simple frame types. A slightly weaker correlation was found with union status of the scaffold erector, and no correlation was found with geography, site size, number of scaffold users, and trade working on the scaffold.

Discussion: Recommendations are made for safer scaffold practice, including a simple four-factor scaffold inspection method.

Impact on industry: Implementation of the four-factor method could result in a cost-effective way to identify unsafe scaffolds.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / prevention & control*
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Construction Materials / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • United States