Scaffold Tower Inspection Guide & Checklist
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Please note that this document may be used in addition too, but not in place of any manufacturers’ issued guidance
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Last Updated 21/07/2016
Please find below some guidance on the inspection of aluminium scaffolding towers. It includes general guidance that can be applied to nearly all major makes and models, as well as specific information about certain products and their peculiarities and how to properly inspect them.
In our business of selling second hand scaffold towers, we come across and have to inspect and repair a wide range of different products. Certain makes of scaffold tower are more common and we offer more advice about these than other products.
- Check that the plywood is in place and securely fixed. Has no cracks, cuts or holes. Some cracks may only be apparent when inspecting the underside of the plywood.
- Check that the lamination is intact and not separating
- Check for rot, especially around the edges of the platform and around any rivet fixings. Where the plywood is not fully sealed, water can ingress into the plywood and lead to rot. Some manufacturers seal all holes after drilling to prevent this, but not all do so.
- Ensure that the non-slip coating is facing upwards, has not been worn away and that these is no excessive paint, plaster, oil, concrete or other contaminants.
- If cleaning the platform with a pressure washer, excessive water pressure can strip away the upper non-slip layer, leaving the platform permanently damaged. Please be careful to avoid this.
- Check that the rivet heads are in place and that the rivets are secure and undamaged. Whilst doing so you should check for rotten plywood around the rivets.
Trapdoor Hinges, Catches & Stay Arms
- Check that all items are in place, secure and not excessively worn or corroded.
- Ensure that hinges are free to move and securely fixed to both the plywood and platform framework. In some instances, it is possible for the hinge to be bent, meaning that the trapdoor does not sit in place correctly.
- If fitted, ensure that the stay arm is free to move.
- With the platform lying flat, open the trapdoor fully and release. It should close completely and latch into place if working correctly.
- You may wish to apply a penetrating lubricant to the hinges and stay arm joint.
- Check that these is no damage, cracks, holes or excessive corrosion. Pay particular attention to areas around the welds and hooks.
- There should be no more than one dent in a 300mm (12”) length.
- Ensure that all rivets, bolts and any other fixings are secure.
- Check that the platform is not skewed or warped by ensuring that the diagonal dimensions are within 5mm of each other.
- Ensure that the platform is flat within 15mm along its length.
- Make sure that the wind locks function as intended and with ease.
- Make sure that the label showing the maximum platform load is in place securely and is still legible.
A piece of rotten playwood decking, note how the rotting started from around the rivet hole
Tubes and struts
- Make sure that the maximum deflection is 5mm in a 1000m length and that there is no excessive denting or creasing, including not more than one dent per 300mm length, with a maximum depth of 10mm deep per 60cm2.
- There should be no cracks, cuts, holes or excessive corrosion. Some scaffold towers are manufactured from seam welded tube, please ensure that you check for splits along the seams in this instance
- Make sure that the tubes are clean enough that they do not inhibit safe handling and assembly.
- First you should make sure that there is no paint or other material over welds or joints that may inhibit inspection.
- After this make sure that there are no cracks or excessive corrosion in any welds, castings and the surrounding metal.
- Should the tower use crimped joints such as in products from Euro Towers or Instant Upright make sure that there is not excessive movement in the joint.
- Ensure that the spigots are securely in place, straight and not distorted or otherwise damaged. Including checking for cuts, dents or excessive corrosion.
- Depending on the make and model of tower, the way the spigot is fixed may vary.
- Youngman/BOSS, Lyte, Old type Eiger etc use a floating spigot, these are attached with a large roll pin and designed to move around. Ensure that the roll pin is in place and not corroded or otherwise damaged.
- Euro towers, these spigots are crimped in place. Make sure that the crimped joint does not have excessive movement.
- Instant upright, New Eiger (made by Altrex) etc. These spigots are bolted/screwed in place. Some movement is allowed, make sure that the bolts/screws are not working loose.
- Spigots will generally feature some kind of locating hole for an interlock clip, please ensure that this is not excessively worn and is orientated correctly (sometimes people may remove spigots to manoeuvre a tower under obstacles, when putting them back they don’t necessarily put them the right way round)
- Depending on the make and model, check to see if the plastic end cap is in place.
- Make sure that the ladder stiles and rungs are straight with no cracks, cuts or excessive corrosion.
- Ensure that the welds and surrounding metal are not cracked or excessively corroded.
- Take hold of each ladder rung and ensure that it is securely fitted and not excessively dented.
Spring Interlock Clip
- Ensure that the clips are in place, operates correctly, is not distorted or excessively corroded. Check that the pin within the clip is secure and not worn.
A badly damaged scaffold tower frame
A dented scaffold tower frame
- As people frequently use scaffold towers incorrectly and stand on the braces when climbing, you should first check that they are straight, a maximum deflection of 5mm in a 1000mm length should be allowed.
- Next make sure that there is no excessive creasing or denting, including not more than one dent per 300mm length, with a maximum depth of 10mm deep per 60cm2. At the same time ensure that there are no cracks, cuts, holes or excessive corrosion.
- Make sure that the tubes are clean enough that they do not inhibit safe handling and assembly.
- Ensure that the hook has no damage, excessive corrosion or deformation and that it functions correctly.
- Make sure that the hook is securely fixed to the tube, for welded braces check that the welds and surrounding metal are not cracked or excessively corroded.
- For crimped braces ensure that there is no excessive movement. We find that Instant Upright crimped braces tend to remain more rigid, with Euro Tower crimps generally having a small (though still acceptable) amount of movement. New Eiger (made by Altrex) crimps are in between.
- Prime the hook (open the locking mechanism) and attach it onto a piece of frame tube. Using a moderate to heavy force the tube should not become detached from the frame.
- With Youngman BOSS hooks, check that the spirol roll pins are not excessively corroded and that the mechanism moves freely. Due to the narrow diameter of these roll pins they seem to suffer from bimetallic corrosion more frequently than the larger diameter pins used by other manufacturers. Whilst it is possible to remove and replace these pins, it is no easy task.
- With Towers & Sanders/Lewis hooks we find that due to the simple plunger mechanism used on the trigger, the hook frequently jams. This is sometimes apparent even on very new equipment.
- The locking mechanism of brace hooks will benefit from the application of a penetrating lubricant.
- Check the tubes as per brace tubes
- Ensure that telescopic sections move freely and are not jammed, it may be necessary to remove the telescopic section to remove any dirt or other contaminants.
- Make sure that the retaining clip is in place, undamaged and operates correctly.
- COMMON MISTAKE: Make sure that the retaining clip is of the LONG PIN variety, the pin should go all the way through and out the other side. It is frequently and incorrectly replaced with a short pin retaining clip as used on frames.
- Make sure that the complete clamping mechanism is in place and undamaged, with no excessive damage, cracks or wear to any part of its mechanism.
- Make sure that any pivoting parts rotate freely and that the clamp can tighten securely onto a frame tube, sometimes threads on clamps can wear out leaving them unable to tighten correctly.
- If the foot pivots, make sure that it rotates freely, if it does not pivot ensure that it is orientated correctly. (You’d be surprised at the number of times we’ve seen fixed angled feet placed the wrong way round, giving them little to no contact with the ground)
- Make sure there is no excessive wear, cracking or damage to the foot and that any rivets or fixings holding it in place are secure.
- The threads of the bolt and handles of the locking clamp assemblies and the pivot pins in the pivot castings will benefit from the application of a penetrating lubricant.
- Ensure that the main body of the leg is free from dents and straight with a maximum deflection of 5mm over then entire length. As well as checking for cracks, cuts, holes and excessive corrosion.
- Ensure that the leg retaining pin is in place and that the top of the leg has not been crushed or damaged.
- Place the leg into a frame tube and make sure that it is retained by the spring
- Ensure that the adjustment nut rotates freely along its entire length and that the thread has not been damaged.
- Make sure that the nut cannot spin off of the bottom of the leg, there should be a pressed section of thread, dot of weld or pin to stop this. If not the castor could be pushed out of the leg whilst in use.
- Check that the knurled grips on the nut have not been damaged, this is particularly liable to happen on certain makes with small knurled grips.
- Check that a castor fits into the bottom of the adjustable leg.
- The thread of the adjustable leg and nut will benefit from the application of a penetrating lubricant.
A scaffold tower adjustable leg with crushed end
An adjustable leg missing its retaining spring
An adjustable leg with damaged knurled grip
Castors & Base Plates
- Make sure that the brake operates correctly, this includes checking that the brake doesn’t engage of its own accord when wheeling the castor along.
- Check for excessive wear to the wheel, spigot and swivel bearings.
- Make sure that the ball retains the castor or base plate in an adjustable leg
- Check base plates for excessive buckling or corrosion and make sure that the plates are securely fixed to the spigot