The top of a scaffolding setup

The Importance of Construction Scaffolding Training

Review the Do’s and Don’ts of creating a safe and efficient scaffolding job site.

Scaffolding is one of the most common types of equipment you’ll find in commercial construction. But it’s not as simple as hopping on a scaffold and working on your project.

 

Not only is there a world of knowledge on the material and types of scaffolds themselves, working on them requires planning, calculating, following procedures, and avoiding hazards. Read on for the lowdown on scaffolds, safety basics, and how you can prepare.

Why scaffold safety training is important

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), about 65% of the construction industry engages in frequent work with scaffolds. Scaffolding accidents result in 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths per year in the U.S. With scaffolds being so commonplace in construction, it’s no wonder that scaffold safety training requirements are absolutely necessary. From erecting to dismantling, it’s crucial that all individuals involved should be highly trained in the most up to date safety practices.

4500
Average Yearly Injuries
50
Average Yearly Deaths
"The biggest benefit that I have learned from my customers is how employees have an opportunity to get answers to questions that everyone assumes they already know. Many times companies hire skilled labor and believe that because of their years in the industry they have scaffolding knowledge. But it's when this assumption is incorrect that we see safety issues."
Brian Munson
WMCI Scaffold Instructor

First, what exactly is Construction Scaffolding?

Scaffolding refers to a platform that supports individuals and construction materials while work is being carried out on a particular structure. While there are many types of scaffolds (single, double, suspended, and trestle, to name a few), they are largely classified into these 3 categories:

  1. Supported: Most common type of platform, with rigid support from below (using poles, brackets, beams, posts, frames, etc.).
  2. Suspended: Platform(s) hung overhead with ropes, needle beams, hangers, etc.
  3. Other: Scaffolds that are machinery and vehicle types, and include man lifts and hoists.

osha has two main types of safety training standards:

osha safety standards of:

User Training - for any employee who works on a scaffold - meets OSHA regulation 29CFR1935.454a "The employer shall have each employee who performs work while on a scaffold trained by a person qualified in the subject matter to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used and to understand the procedures to control or minimize those hazards."

osha safety standards of:

Competent Person Training - for all employees responsible for the operation of scaffolds - meets OSHA regulation 29CFR1935.454b. "The Employer shall have each employee who is involved in the erecting , disassembling, moving, operating, repairing, maintaining, or inspecting a scaffold trained by a competent person to recognize and hazards associated with the work in question"

In short, the student successfully completing the user training, meets OSHA standards for training to use/work from the scaffold only.  The student who successfully completes the Competent Person Training meets the requirements to erect, dismantle,  modify, moving and inspect the scaffold. 

Note: there is a third standard OSHA recommends that is focused on retraining if “an employer believes the employee lacks the necessary skill, understanding, or proficiency to work safely.” 1926.454(c) 

the do's and don'ts of scaffold work

Receive scaffolding training

from a qualified individual, which includes discussions of various hazards (electrocution, falling, etc.).

Ensure

the scaffold is inspected by a competent individual before working on one.

Always wear a hard hat

and work boots when working on or under scaffolds.

Be aware

of your surroundings, including the people around you.

Review

inspection tags, and the scaffold’s weight capacity.

Use safety harnesses

and lanyards when working above 10ft in height

Don't move or otherwise change

scaffolds without a competent person’s supervision.

Don't leave personal items

on the scaffold as it can be a hazard for your coworkers.

Don't stand on items

If you’re having trouble reaching an area

don't begin work if

any part of the scaffold seems damaged, missing, or otherwise not up to par. Ensure that you consult a Competent Person.

Don't climb

with tools in your hand or on the frame of the scaffold.

next steps

There’s a lot more to construction scaffolding than meets the eye. When your work requires frequent scaffold use and there’s so many dangers involved, it’s essential to have the right training. Luckily, WMCI offers Scaffold Training: Competent Person and Scaffold User Training courses that will help you meet OSHA scaffold safety training requirements. After the course, you’ll be just one open-book exam away from earning both OSHA Scaffold User and Builder certificates.

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