15 Mar 2010

Safety Alert for Scaffold Boards

Last month an incident occurred on a site where an operative, who was working on a scaffold board installing lift equipment inside a lift shaft, fell following the failure of the scaffold board he was standing on. The scaffold board snapped whilst the operative was standing on it and the consequences of a potential 15m fall could easily have been fatal. As it was, the operative fell 2m onto the working platform below and suffered injuries to his ribs. As a part of the investigation, the scaffold board was inspected by an expert who concluded that the cause of the failure was that the timber contained a very pronounced slope of grain in the region of the break.

A full breakdown of the incident and recommendations relating to this safety alert are available at the NASC website


Also last month, a bricklayer was walking from the inner birdcage onto the external top lift of scaffold at 8 metres above ground level. On stepping onto the inner most scaffold board of the external scaffold lift it snapped in half, fortunately the bricklayer managed to stop himself falling completely through the 225mm gap. He sustained bruising to his legs and knee and was treated for mild shock. One half of the board fell to the ground but within the scaffold structure.

Details relating to this incident and preventative recommendations are available at the NASC website

Scaffold board failures, and in particular the failure of Grade A boards, although thankfully rare can have serious and possibly fatal consequences. The variety of grading methods for boards is so wide that choosing a board is now unnecessarily complicated. Only about 30 per cent of boards bought today are made in accordance with BS2482, the British Standard for graded scaffold boards. The following checklist may be useful when purchasing boards:

  • Are your scaffold boards graded to a clearly defined set of rules?
  • Are your boards graded by fully trained and independently assessed graders?
  • Are your boards manufactured within an ISO 9001:2000 quality assurance scheme?
  • Do your boards meet a known performance standard?
… And if any one of these questions cannot be answered satisfactorily
  • Am I confident in using boards manufactured by this company? 

Scaffold boards are just one of the many checks included within the Good to Go Safety checklist. This pre-use inspection system is designed to help identify potential problems before it's too late. Guidance notes included within the check book ask the employee (competent person) to check the boards are in good condition, banded at both ends, not excessively split or warped, free of saw cuts and/or vehicle tyre marks. You can find more information on the Good to Go Safety scaffold tagging and inspection systems in our new digital catalogue.


  1. The last picture of the failed board could have been prevented by securing the boards with a new product I've seen on the scaffoldersforum. There's a video on you tube under Safelinx that shows it's application. It would have prevented the board tipping as the system secures the boards as one unit along the ends... good best practice for all scaffolds if you ask me.

  2. Any new products that can help improve site safety are welcomed. It does look like a decent product on paper. A big thumbs up for the forum by the way, some interesting stuff on there, well worth a look for anyone involved in scaffolding. Visit http://www.scaffoldersforum.com and sign up.

  3. That was really sad. That doesn't look sturdy at all. There should be more safety nets around. It does really look risky. Attention to the authority. Anyway, thanks for sharing this. more power to you and to your site!


  4. Good Job, Very nice Information sharing with us.
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