The have been several fatal construction scaffolding incidents reported recently in the news. Unfortunately, this is far too common. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reports an average of 55 fatalities occur from scaffolds and staging each year for the past six years. In a Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) study, 72% of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. All of these can be controlled by compliance with OSHA standards. Scaffolding is addressed in specific standards for the fields of construction, general industry, and shipyard/marine terminals.

Far too many employers borrow or rent scaffolding and start work having never received the appropriate training, which OSHA considers a primary means to prevent injuries and fatalities. There are three employee designations that OSHA requires to be trained as they relate to scaffolding: Competent Person, Qualified Person, and Users.

Competent Person
A competent person is defined as someone who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards, and has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them. OSHA requires that a competent person be designated to oversee the following scaffolding related tasks: Construction; Use; Dismantling; Training; and Inspections.

Qualified Person
Scaffolds must be designed by a qualified person and be constructed and loaded in accordance with that design. OSHA defines a qualified person as one who possesses a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing; or has extensive knowledge, training and experience; and therefore, can solve or resolve problems related to the work or the project. A qualified person must do adequate preplanning to assure the safe erection and use of the scaffold.

Scaffold users are those whose work requires them, at least some of the time, to be supported by scaffolding to access the area of a structure where that work is performed. Employers are required by OSHA standards to have a qualified person provide training to each employee who performs work while on a scaffold. The training must enable employees to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used and to understand the procedures to control or minimize those hazards.

We recognize that appropriate training cannot prevent every injury or fatality. However, this is a very important step towards that goal. The EI Group can help your company protect its’ workers and remain in compliance with scaffolding and almost every other area of occupational and safety and health.