Meeting the OSHA Competent Person Requirement for Scaffolding Users

Posted on November 8, 2022 in Scaffolding

Scaffolding is a necessary component for many construction job sites; however, it can pose a serious threat to workers. In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported 52 scaffolding fatalities. By adhering to safety rules, regulations, and best practices, these fatalities could have been avoided.

OSHA requires a “competent person” erector to be involved in the setup, usage, and take down of scaffolding. Read on to learn more about meeting OSHA scaffolding requirements and how to ensure the safety of workers.

What Are the Requirements for OSHA Competent Persons?

OSHA competent persons inspect scaffolding for the inauguration at the US Capitol.

OSHA has a very specific definition of a scaffolding competent person:

One who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or work conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees and who has the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

A competent person is required to undergo specific training that, at a bare minimum, must include the following:

  1. Employees involved in activities such as erecting, dismantling, repairing, and inspecting scaffolds (erectors) must be trained by a competent person to recognize any hazards associated with those activities. Training shall include [29 CFR 1926.454(b)]:
    • The nature of scaffold hazards.
    • Correct procedures for erecting, disassembling, etc., the type of scaffold in question.
    • The design criteria, maximum intended load capacity, and intended scaffold use.
    • Any other pertinent requirements to include OSHA and other regulations for erected scaffolding structures.
  2. Employees who perform work (users) while on a scaffold must be trained by a qualified person to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used and to understand the procedures to control those hazards. Training shall include [29 CFR 1926.454(a)]:
    • The nature of any electrical hazards, fall hazards, and falling object hazards in the work area.
    • The correct procedures for dealing with those hazards.
    • The proper use of the scaffold, and the proper handling of materials on the scaffold.
    • The maximum intended load and the load-carrying capacity of the scaffold.
    • Any other pertinent requirements.
  3. Employers retrain each employee when they have reason to believe that the employee lacks the skill or understanding to safely erect, use, or dismantle a scaffold. Such retraining is required in at least the following situations [29 CFR 1926.454(c)]:
    • Where changes at the worksite present a hazard for which an employee has not previously been trained.
    • Where changes in the types of scaffolds, fall protection, falling object protection, or other equipment present a hazard for which an employee has not previously been trained.
    • Where inadequacies in an affected employee’s work indicate that the employee has not retained the necessary proficiency.
  4. In addition, the Competent Person erectors must know the CFR 1923 Subpart L Scaffolds Sections 19326-450-454 & Appendices
  5. Have working knowledge of Signs, Signals, and Barricades Subpart G
  6. Be knowledgeable and competent in Fall Protection CFR 1926 Subpart M as it pertains to Scaffolding and proper anchors.

Why Does OSHA Require a Competent Person for Scaffolding Users?

workers trained in OSHA's scaffolding requirements inspect scaffolds on a jobsite

Beyond the obvious safety aspects, there are other important reasons why OSHA requires a competent person for scaffolding.


Unless someone is physically watching and monitoring a scaffold 24/7, a wide range of circumstances could compromise its integrity. For example, after the workers have gone home, an errant vehicle could have accidentally bumped up against the scaffold, causing damage that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. Or perhaps an overnight windstorm could have caused hidden damage.

The chances of an accident occurring are much less when a competent person inspects the scaffold for users before the workday starts and after any incident that could impact its integrity.

Erected, Dismantled, and Modified

Scaffolds are erected, moved, dismantled, or altered only under the supervision and direction of a competent person qualified in scaffold erection, moving, dismantling, or alteration. Such activities are performed only by experienced and trained erectors selected for such work by a competent person.

Safe Access

The employer provides safe means of access for each employee erecting or dismantling a scaffold where the provision of safe access is feasible and does not create a greater hazard. The employer has a competent person determine whether safe access is feasible or would pose a greater hazard to provide and have employees use a safe means of access. This determination is based on site conditions and the type of scaffold being erected or dismantled.


Before the scaffold is used, direct connections are evaluated by a competent person who confirms, based on the inspection evaluation, that the supporting surfaces are capable of supporting the loads to be imposed.

Accessing Work Conditions

Work on or from scaffolds is prohibited during storms or high winds unless a competent person has determined that it is safe for employees to be on the scaffold and those employees are protected by a personal fall arrest system or wind screens. 

Virginia-Specific Scaffolding Regulations

OSHA scaffolding regulations are only part of the equation. The Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) department requires all scaffolds to be built at least 10 feet away from power lines—no matter the voltage. For more than 50kV, one must increase the distance by 0.4 inches for each 1kV over 50kV.

Repercussions of Not Fulfilling OSHA’s Competent Person User Requirement

In addition to a fine or citation from OSHA, not having a competent person inspector can lead to the entire job getting shut down due to workers not being able (or willing) to use an unsafe scaffold. 

Worker injuries or fatalities are two more repercussions. A single industrial accident due to a scaffolding fall can be very costly for the employer. 

In addition to workers’ comp and time lost due to job site shutdowns, a poor safety record could negatively impact landing future jobs. Fulfilling OSHA’s competent person requirement helps prevent those costs and ensures worker safety.

Competent Person Training at Circle Safety & Health Consultants

The Circle Safety & Health Consultants Competent User/Inspector Course will fulfill OSHA scaffolding requirements for competent person training. The highly knowledgeable staff at Circle Safety will provide comprehensive training and valuable content materials.

The class is five hours long, and they can conduct it at their facility or yours. Upon successful completion, attendees will receive a certificate, and the client/employer will receive copies of the certificates, the training roster, quizzes, and course evaluations for their records. It’s highly recommended that workers get recertified every five years.


Scaffolding Services for the Mid-Atlantic Area

At Scaffolding Solutions, we specialize in providing high-quality scaffolding to many different types of jobs and industries. We have an impeccable safety record and can solve your toughest scaffolding challenges. Click below to learn more about our services.

See Our Scaffolding Services


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They kept us informed every step of the way, addressing any concerns promptly and effectively. Their ability to navigate the challenges of the project and maintain clear communication truly blew our hats off.I highly recommend Frank, Yoni, and Jefferson for any project requiring precision, safety, and excellent communication. Five stars without hesitation!Response from the ownerThank you, Thomas! We strive to provide outstanding customer service, safety and communication on all of our projects. It was a pleasure to partner with you on this project! Ben FeeneyBen Feeney ★★★★★ Frank Giuliano (Scaffolding Solutions) is amazing! He is truly passionate about customer service and seeks to cultivate long standing relationships with his customers. I recently worked with Frank on a construction project that required a lot of his time logistics wise. He was patient, responsive and asked good questions. He went above and beyond to ensure the project was completed to our satisfaction.Response from the ownerThank you, Ben! We were thrilled to partner with you on this project! We believe that great planning and outstanding communication make for successful projects and happy customers. We always strive to exceed your expectations. Looking forward to many more successful partnerships with your team in the future! a aa a ★★★★★ I would like to personally write a Google review, though I wrote corporate and expressed the same sentiments, this needs to be made public.Frank is the most AMAZING person; he is knowledgeable, kind, honest, trustworthy, and has the most integrity and follow up. I have worked with multiple scaffolding companies for our multifamily developments within Maryland and Virginia and Scaffolding Solutions is a TEN STAR experience and business.Each commitment has exceeded our expectations. Frank has set the bar so incredibly high that I wish every experience could be with him for every service we outsource; hence, we continue to exclusively work with him.I cannot sing the praises enough when it comes to Frank and he deserves attention, recognition, accolades and compensation for the tangible and intangible value he adds to Scaffolding Solutions.We love you here at Exterior Medics Frank! <3 We are excited to continue our journey as partners.Best,AdeleResponse from the ownerThank you Adele! We appreciate all your support and partnership. We strive to provide great service, technical support and friendship to all our partners. We appreciate you! Matt PusheckMatt Pusheck ★★★★★ Highly recommend Scaffolding Solutions for anyone's access needs. We have established an incredible working relationship with this group in the last 18 months on some very high profile projects. Frank Giuliano is the definition of customer service and is always at the ready to help! They provide both fair and prompt pricing when needed. Frank and his Field Supervisor, David Herbert, are very knowledgeable and professional. We have had tremendous success with Scaffolding Solutions and I look forward to continuing our working relationship for years to come.Response from the ownerThank you Matt! We appreciate your trust and confidence in partnering with us. It is truly a pleasure to work with your company. We look forward to many more successful projects working together with your team in the future! Rmb BoswellRmb Boswell ★★★★★ Working with this as Frank representing has been great experience. They paid attention to the needs I requested for support needed for an MRI. They with detailed drawings for me to approve and plan of attack the was perfect .Response from the ownerThanks Robert! We were very excited to partner with you on this important project! Planning and meticulous project coordination in advance of the start of work ensures a smooth and 100% safe work execution. Have a great day! heydy Landaverdeheydy Landaverde ★★★★★ Jeremy WishonJeremy Wishon ★★★★★ Frank was awesome to work with. The service was top notch, got the ball rolling immediately, and got us set up faster than expected. Looking forward to working with them on future projects.Response from the ownerThank you Jeremy! We appreciate your continued partnership and trust. Lynn PierceLynn Pierce ★★★★★ Great service! Exceptional communication! I’m greatly to worked with Scaffolding Solutions.Response from the ownerThank you Lynn! It was a pleasure to partner with you. John WoodJohn Wood ★★★★★ Our heavy mechanical construction company have worked with Scaffolding Solutions for years now. Scaffolding Solutions are amazingly fast, responsive, & professional. They always exceed our expectations! Mr. Frank Giuliano is absolutely the best. Frank is always accommodating, extremely knowledgeable and always “safety first” in his approach to our scaffolding needs. We manage heavy mechanic projects within the transportation industry for Government agencies and Scaffolding Solutions & Mr Giuliano always exceed our clients needs. We highly recommend Scaffolding Solutions & Mr. Frank Giuliano for any, commercial or residential projects, you or your company has. 5 STARS! OUTSTANDING QUALITY WORK! GREAT COMPETITIVE RATES!Response from the ownerThank you, John! We are proud to be your "access partner of choice". Looking forward to many more successful projects to come. Thank you for your business! Hal CoganHal Cogan ★★★★★ Frank and his team with Scaffolding Solutions were great! Even with last minute changes and numerous headaches the day of they still got the job done. I look forward to working with them again!Response from the ownerThank you, Hal! Our goal is to provide the best service, safety and pricing of any other access company in the DMV. Exceeding your expectations is our mission! Hann HannHann Hann ★★★★★ Frank & his team didn't meet our expectations, they exceeded them. Everyone was extremely professionally throughout the project. Communication was over the top. Couldn't have asked for more complete turnkey service. Scaffolding Solutions is top of the list for any scaffold or shoring needs.Response from the ownerThank you! The amazing partnership, friendship and teamwork we have with Hann and Hann is what we're all about. We appreciate your business! rolando Tobarrolando Tobar ★★★★★ Great work & access to all kind of work ...The best in the DMVResponse from the ownerThank you Rolando! Our goal is to provide the best service of any other access company in the DMV. Kevin TaylorKevin Taylor ★★★★★ The team at Scaffold Solutions really got me out of a bind this past week. Set-up scaffold on Saturday morning and came back Sunday morning to take it back down. Communication was great, speed and safety were excellent and price was fair. I appreciate the solid communication and follow-up from their team and they did a great job helping me get the steel installed in the elevator shaft. Thank you!Response from the ownerThank you Kevin! We were very happy to partner with you on this work and "get it done". Safety, communication, speed - and great pricing. You hit the nail on the head my friend! Diana MiraldiDiana Miraldi ★★★★★ Response from the ownerThank you for your 5-star review Diana! Giselle AllenGiselle Allen ★★★★★ I recently had my fourth floor loft terrace enclosed. Scaffolding Solutions, LLC is the only choice you need to ensure your project is successful! Frank Giuliano visited my home and assessed the area, then coordinated with the Patio Enclosure installation manager to build a custom design that was efficient for the project. Frank’s customer service was remarkable. He constantly communicated updates and I felt very comfortable contacting him with any questions. The scaffolding crew only took one day to assemble and disassemble the scaffold without incident. They were pleasant, professional and respectful of my property. Hands down this was the best experience and I definitely recommend Scaffolding Solutions, LLC.Response from the ownerThank you Giselle! We were happy to be able to help you with your project...and are very glad the experience was so positive for you. Have an amazing day! 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