A scaffold is an elevated, temporary work platform used to support employees and their materials. It is essential that a competent person is onsite at all times to ensure OSHA guidelines are followed during scaffold use. Every person who accesses a scaffold requires scaffold safety training.

There are four categories of personnel on scaffolding worksites:

  • Competent person
  • Trained erector/dismantler
  • Trained scaffold worker
  • Prohibited non-trained person

Never use a scaffold if you are not:

  • Trained in scaffold use
  • Knowledgeable on scaffolds
  • Capable of using scaffolds properly
  • Authorized to use a scaffold

A competent person must be present during all phases of scaffold use. This includes erecting, usage and dismantling of scaffolds.

Without training, employees are unaware of scaffold risks and hazards. About 65% of  the construction industry works on scaffolds frequently and scaffold accidents can occur even when trained workers use them. In fact, OSHA says 29,000 scaffold fall injuries occur annually. For that reason alone, proper scaffold use is very necessary. With such a high percentage of the construction industry using scaffolds, proper training and knowledge is vital to safety.

If the employer has reason to believe the employee lacks the understanding or skill needed to work safely within scaffolding, then the worker may require retraining. Proper training and knowledge can help protect a high percentage of workers who frequently use scaffold.

In addition to proper training and authorization, anyone using a scaffold should follow certain standards set out by OSHA.

Scaffold safety golden rules:

  1. Use the proper base plates, mud sills and adjustable screw jacks on solid ground for a good, sound foundation.
  2. Inspect all equipment and reject damaged parts.
  3. Tie the scaffold to the structure at 4-to-1 vertically and 30 feet horizontally.
  4. Do not exceed 4-to-1 height minimum vase dimension ratio.
  5. Use scaffold grade plank overlapping plank a minimum of 12 inches and extend plank over the end at least six inches but no more than 12 inches.
  6. Follow the capacities as given by the manufacturers and remember, scaffolds should be capable of supporting, without failure at leat four times the maximum intended load.
  7. Brace the scaffold per the manufacturer’s code.
  8. Use guardrails, mid rails and toe boards on all open sides and ends of platforms above 10 inches.
  9. Inspect the scaffold’s setup after erection and before each shift. Do not remove any part without permission.
  10. Provide and use proper ladder access to all work levels.

OSHA requires that fall protection be used on scaffolds at or over ten feet.  If you need fall protection, be sure to check out our helpful guide Fall Protection 101.

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