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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.