Important Scaffolding Rules for Every Job Site

The scaffolding must stay within the height and weight limit, on stable ground, with daily and weekly inspections. Scaffolders must wear PPE for fall protection.
May 31, 2024 by
Important Scaffolding Rules for Every Job Site
SP Group Global Ltd

Taller heights mean bigger risks — a reality scaffolders and construction workers are aware of and must prepare for. Safety regulations must be implemented and followed by all parties involved. These include the basic rules below recommended by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

1. Stay within the height and weight limit

Scaffolding has strict regulations when it comes to height and weight limitations. These temporary structures are designed to meet certain height standards and to support specific weight loads. Guidelines may also vary by manufacturer, but a general rule is:

  • scaffolding is required for tasks exceeding 4 feet above a lower level, such as repairing the exterior facade of a tall building;
  • and 6 feet above for construction work, like window installation on the upper floors of a two-storey building.

As for the scaffolding weight limits, they fall into three categories:

  • Light-duty or “standard” scaffolding supports loads up to 25lb per square foot (PSF)
  • Medium-duty “brick masons” scaffolding can handle up to 50lb PSF
  • Heavy-duty “stone-setters" scaffolding can support loads up to 75lb PSF

Consult qualified scaffolding and safety experts when calculating weight loads. Different types can support varying weights and loads, so their expertise can ensure safety and stability on the job site.

2. The base surface must be stable and level

Scaffolding must be constructed on secure, level ground, as mandated by The Law. If the ground is uneven, levelling plates like this Yellow Plate can be used to provide stability and support.

Anchoring the scaffold poles also helps prevent swaying. This can be achieved by attaching the scaffolding to base plates or mud sills. Digging may be necessary to create a level surface in cases of uneven terrain. Once in place, level the scaffolding using adjusting screws for stability.

3. Wearing personal fall protection equipment

Ongoing efforts to improve safety measures include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including:

  • Hard hats for head protection: Even minor impacts on the head can result in bruising or more serious injuries, such as concussions. Wearing safety helmets reduces these risks. They should be worn always, not only on scaffolding but also throughout the construction site where hazardous situations are present.
  • Heavy-duty coveralls paired with high-visibility vest: Coveralls are less likely to snag on safety rails or the scaffolding. Wearing one creates a barrier between the wearer’s skin and any environmental hazards. Pair it with high-visibility vests for increased visibility during low-light conditions.
  • Safety harness for fall protection: It attaches to an immovable anchor point via a fall restraint or arrest lanyard. This guarantees the wearer is secure in the event of fall, provided it’s properly worn. All scaffolders must wear this piece when working at heights of six feet or higher.

Read our guide on ‘Personal Fall Protection Equipment Scaffolders Swear By’ for more.

4. Scaffold inspection routine

Another crucial aspect of scaffolding safety is inspections. Scaffolds must be inspected before use, per standard practice outlined in The Work at Height Regulations 2005. Assessments must also occur every seven days until it is dismantled. 

Certain factors, such as adverse weather conditions and alterations, are not exempt from regular checks. For instance, strong winds and heavy rain can weaken the structure and the scaffold sheeting. Changes in height or layout can also affect stability.

Conducting inspections after exposure to adverse weather and following alterations enables authorised inspectors to identify and address any potential issues. Refer to our “How Often Should Scaffolding Be Inspected?” guide to learn more.

We offer a variety of scaffold protection products that meet these safety regulations, and our 5-star-rated customer service team is available to help you with your order or provide a FREE consultation. Reach out to us at or call +44 (028) 9442 8611.