OSHA Instruction CPL 2-1.23 January 7, 1997 Directorate of Construction
SUBJECT: Inspection Procedures for Enforcing Subpart L, Scaffolds Used in
Construction - 29 CFR 1926.450-454.
A. Purpose. This instruction establishes inspection procedures and
provides clarification to ensure uniform enforcement of the scaffold
standards for construction.
B. Scope. This instruction applies OSHA-wide.
1. Construction Safety and Health Standards, Subpart L, 29 CFR
1926.450, .451, .452, .453, and .454.
2. OSHA Instruction CPL 2.103, the Field Inspection Reference
3. Federal Register, Vol. 61, No. 170, August 29, 1996,
pages 46026 - 46131, Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction
D. Cancellation. OSHA Instruction STD 3-14.1, October 30, 1978,
Citation Policy - Specific Scaffold Requirements, is canceled, as are all
interpretations issued prior to this date which are in conflict with the
standard or the directive.
E. Action. Regional Administrators and Area Directors shall ensure
that the guidelines in this instruction are followed and that compliance
officers are familiar with the contents of the standard.
F. Federal Program Change. This instruction describes a Federal
program change which affects State programs. Each Regional Administrator
1. Ensure that this change is promptly forwarded to each State
designee using a format consistent with the Plan Change Two-way Memorandum in
Appendix P, OSHA Instruction STP 2.22A, State Plans Policies and Procedures
2. Explain to each State designee as requested the technical
content of the change and the State designee as requested.
3. Ensure that the State designees acknowledge receipt of this
Federal program change in writing to the Regional Administrator when the
State's intention is known, but not later than 70 calendar days after the
issuance (10 days for mailing and 60 days for response). This acknowledgment
must include a statement indicating whether the State will follow the
guidelines in this instruction or develop alternative guidance.
4. Ensure that State designees submit a plan supplement in
accordance with OSHA Instruction STP 2.22A, CH-3, as appropriate, following
the established schedule that is agreed upon by the State and Regional
Administrator to submit non-field Operations Manual/OSHA Technical Manual
Federal program changes.
a. The State plan supplement should be in the form of a State
directive or policy/procedure document, which details procedures for
implementing the safety guidelines in the State.
b. The State's acknowledgment of the Plan Changes Two-Way
Memorandum may fulfill the plan supplement requirement if the appropriate
documentation is provided.
5. The Regional Administrator shall review policies, instruction
and guidelines issued by the State to determine that this change has been
communicated to the State.
G. Effective Date. The effective date for the Scaffold Standard is
November 29, 1996, except that
1. 1926.453(a)(2) will not take effect until an OMB control number
will have been received and displayed for this "collection of information."
The National Office will inform the Regional Administrators when clearance is
2. 1926.451(e)(9) and 1926.451(g)(2) are delayed until September 2,
H. Background. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
has issued a revised standard for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry
(Subpart L to 29 CFR 1926).
1. On November 25, 1986, OSHA issued a notice of proposed
rulemaking on scaffolds (51 FR 4268). The comment period was extended or
reopened several times (most recently closing on March 18, 1994) and OSHA
convened an informal public hearing on March 23, 1988 (53 FR 2048, January
2. Proposed Subpart L was reviewed by the Advisory Committee on
Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH). Many of the revisions made to the
proposal reflect recommendations from ACCSH and from other interested
3. The final rule resolves many issues raised in earlier attempts
to regulate this activity within the construction industry.
a. This rule establishes one set of requirements which is
applicable to all scaffolds used in construction, except that 1926.451 does
not apply to aerial lifts (covered by 1926.453).
b. Where provisions of Subpart L are intended to cover only one
type of scaffold, the final rule makes that clear.
4. Any questions involving enforcement, including compliance
concerns raised by employers, should be promptly reported to the Office of
Construction Standards and Compliance Assistance at (202) 219-7207.
I. Overview of Subpart L - Scaffolds
1. Paragraph (a) of 1926.450 states that this standard does not
apply to Crane- or Derrick-Suspended Personnel Platforms.
a. The standards applicable to aerial lifts are set out
exclusively in 1926.453.
b. Paragraph (b) of 1926.450 provides definitions for
particular terms used in Subpart L.
2. Section 1926.451 sets general requirements that apply to all
scaffolds, with variations for some specific types of scaffolds or work
a. The standard distinguishes between supported scaffolds
(paragraph 1926.451(c)) and suspension scaffolds (paragraph
b. This section references criteria in Appendix A that the
qualified person may consult when designing scaffolds to meet capacity
3. Section 1926.452 sets additional requirements for 23 specific
types of scaffolds. Section 1926.452 includes references to Appendix A,
which provides technical criteria to be used by the employer in designing,
installing, and loading these specified types of scaffolds and related
4. Section 1926.453 covers requirements for aerial lifts, and
refers to Non-mandatory Appendix C of the standard, which lists the consensus
standards related to aerial lifts.
a. This standard is solely a renumbering of the previous
standards for aerial lifts to bring them under Subpart L and does not change
substantively any requirements previously covered under 1926.556 or
b. General requirements for scaffolds contained in 1926.451 do
not apply to aerial lifts covered by 1926.453.
c. Compliance with the pertinent ANSI A92 standard for any of
the newer, specialized types of equipment (as listed in Non-mandatory
Appendix C) will provide employee protection equivalent to that provided
through the application of ANSI A92.2-1969, which is referenced in
5. Section 1926.454 covers training requirements and refers to
Non-mandatory Appendix D for additional information related to training for
employees engaged in the erecting and dismantling of scaffolds.
6. The appendices, which are non-mandatory, provide important
compliance guidance, examples of acceptable measures, and specific
information for the compliance officer's and the employer's understanding of
J. Compliance Guidelines for Significant General Issues In Subpart
L. The following information provides guidance that will aid in
understanding the overall requirements in the revised standard for scaffolds.
1. Competent Person. Although Subpart L provides employers
with flexibility in the design of scaffolds and the selection of fall
protection, the employer is required to have a competent person who has the
training and experience necessary to make determinations as to fall
protection, integrity of scaffolds and that the scaffold is maintained and
used in a safe manner.
NOTE: OSHA recognizes that an employer may have more than one
competent person on the worksite to deal with different aspects of
a. The compliance officer shall determine the identity of the
competent person and assess the training and experience qualifications of
that person at an early stage of any inspection.
b. Appendix A of this directive provides guidance for the
compliance officer and the employer in evaluating compliance with
requirements pertaining to competent person and qualified person
2. Safe Access and Fall Protection During the Erection and
Dismantling of Supported Scaffolds. (NOT EFFECTIVE UNTIL SEPTEMBER 2,
1997.) The prior standard did not require that employers provide safe
access and fall protection during erection or dismantling
a. OSHA recognizes that compliance may not be feasible during
certain scaffold erection and dismantling operations. However, employers will
be required to determine at each stage of erection and dismantling if safe
access and fall protection can be provided and, if so, to comply with the
b. The employer has the responsibility to evaluate whether
providing access and fall protection for employees is feasible and safer
(i.e., does not create a greater hazard.)
(1) A competent person who has the knowledge and experience
necessary must be used to make the appropriate determination.
(2) This evaluation shall include a determination whether,
alternatively, partial compliance may be feasible and safer under the
circumstances present at the site.
c. Provisions for safe access during erecting and dismantling
of supported scaffolds are contained in 1926.451(e)(9).
(1) Failure of the employer to have the operation initially
evaluated by a competent person or failure to use fall protection during
erecting and dismantling when it is feasible and safer to do so is a
violation of 1926.451(g)(2).
(2) The CSHO shall document specific worksite factors and
compliance considerations encountered by the competent person when evaluating
the feasibility of providing safe access or fall protection during these
operations for use in developing and updating Appendix B.
d. The CSHO shall ascertain whether employees engaged in
erecting and dismantling scaffolds have been trained in these activities and
in the hazards specific to the types of scaffolds involved. Training
guidelines are addressed in Appendix D of the standard.
3. Fall Protection Requirements. Fall protection is
required for employees when working 10' or more above the next lower
a. The employer has the option, in many instances, of providing
a guardrail system or of having each employee use a personal fall arrest
system. Exceptions are provided in 1926.451(g)(1)(i) through (vi), and are
b. Fall protection must be provided on all supported and
(1) In most instances on supported scaffolds, this will be a
(2) However, there may be some unique situations in which a
personal fall arrest system may be necessary on a supported system. In such
cases the requirements in section 1926.502 for safe anchorage of the system
must be met.
c. For some types of scaffolds (such as single-point or
two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds), both a guardrail system and
personal fall protection are required.
d. On some types of scaffolds, only personal fall arrest
systems are required (catenary, float and needle beam scaffolds, boatswains'
chairs, roof bracket scaffolds and ladder jack scaffolds). Therefore, the
employer must provide personal fall arrest systems for fall protection on
these types of scaffolds.
e. When employees are installing suspension scaffold support
systems employers must provide fall protection meeting the requirements of
Subpart M - Fall Protection.
f. The fall protection to be provided for employees working on
aerial lifts will vary according to the type of aerial lift
(1) Some lifts are intended to be used with guardrails, while
others are designed to be used by employees protected by personal fall arrest
(2) The consensus standards listed in Non-mandatory Appendix C
indicate what fall protection would be appropriate for particular types of
K. Inspection Guidance and Compliance Procedures for Selected Scaffold
Requirements. This section highlights changes from the previous scaffold
standard and clarifies certain issues to assist in compliance with Subpart L.
1. Capacity Requirements -- 1926.451(a).
a. Paragraph (a)(1) states that the scaffold must be capable of
supporting four times the maximum intended load (not the rated
(1) The intended load includes all personnel, equipment, and
(2) The intended load will often be less than the rated load
but should never exceed the rated load unless such design is approved by an
engineer and the manufacturer.
(3) The requirement not to overload the scaffold is found in
b. Paragraph (a)(2) requires that direct connections and
counterweights used to balance adjustable suspension scaffolds be capable of
resisting at least four times the tipping moment of the scaffold, including
(1) CSHO's are not expected to perform these calculations in
the field but shall ensure that the competent person directing the rigging of
the suspended scaffold has performed them.
(2) The competent person's duty to supervise and direct the
rigging of the scaffold is set out in 1926.451(f)(7).
NOTES: 1. The stall load of the suspension hoist
equipment referenced in 1926.451(a)(2), (4) and (5)
means the load at which the hoist motor of a power-operated hoist stalls or
automatically disconnects its power when overloaded or
2. If the stall load (not to exceed 3 times the rated
load) is not listed or labeled for the scaffold in use, the CSHO shall
(a) The qualified person has determined the stall load
of the scaffold hoist prior to the lift or
(b) The scaffold is counter-balanced by at least 4
times the rated load of the hoist.
c. Paragraph 1926.451(a)(6) requires that scaffolds be designed
by a qualified person. This requirement is discussed in depth in Appendix A
of this Instruction. Information to assist the employer in complying with
capacity requirements is also contained in Appendix A of the
2. Scaffold Platform Construction -- 1926.451(b)
a. Paragraph (b)(1) allows exceptions to the full planking of
platforms but requires that the platform be planked or decked "as fully as
possible." Employers may leave an opening between uprights and planking but
the opening may not exceed 9 1/2 inches.
b. Paragraph (b)(2) requires that scaffold platforms be at
least 18" wide, but exceptions are provided in paragraphs (b)(2)(i) and
c. Paragraph 1926.451(b)(11) is meant to ensure that dissimilar
metal components that could cause galvanic action are not used together at
the job without evaluation by the competent person.
(1) If the competent person believes that significant galvanic
action may result from the use of dissimilar metal components and that this
galvanic reaction can reduce the strength of any scaffold component to below
the requirements of subpart L, corrective action must be taken
(2) If the competent person cannot make this evaluation,
scaffold parts of dissimilar metals cannot be used. The competent person may,
of course, rely upon the manufacturer's recommendations.
3. Criteria for Supported Scaffolds -- 1926.451
a. Paragraph (c)(1) requires vertical and horizontal tie-ins on
all supported scaffolds with a height to base ratio of more than four times
the minimum base width.
(1) Vertical and horizontal tie-ins are to be installed to keep
a scaffold from falling into and away from the structure.
(2) Scaffold tie-ins, as with all other scaffold component
designs, must be designed by a qualified person to keep the scaffold
steady and capable of resisting pushing and pulling forces created by wind
and load conditions.
b. Paragraph (c)(2) requires the use of both base plates
and mud sills or other adequate firm foundations.
(1) Base plates are always required.
(2) However, a concrete slab would be considered a firm
foundation, and therefore, mud sills would not be necessary.
c. Paragraph (c)(2)(iv) states that front-end loaders and
similar type equipment may not be used to support scaffolds, unless
specifically designed by the manufacturer for such use. The CSHO may ask the
employer to produce the manufacturer's literature demonstrating that the
equipment has been designed for this use.
d. Paragraph (c)(2)(v) provides that fork lifts may only be
used if the entire platform is attached to the forks. "Attached" does not
mean merely placing the platform on the forks. A positive means of
attachment, such as bolting, must be present.
e. When these types of equipment are used to support scaffolds,
all other requirements of 1926.451 (capacity, construction, access, use and
fall protection, etc.) must be met.
NOTE: These types of equipment are not considered aerial lifts
unless the employer can demonstrate that they are primarily designed and used
to position personnel and they meet all other requirements for aerial
4. Criteria for Suspension Scaffolds -- 1926.451(d)
a. Paragraph (d)(3)(ii) prohibits the use of flowable material
as counterweights, such as sandbags or water buckets, which are easily
displaced or may leak. Solid materials, such as large blocks of
concrete specifically designed for use as counterweights, or large
ingots of metal (such as lead) are examples of acceptable
b. The use of 3/4" inch manila rope or equivalent as a
secondary means of anchorage is no longer acceptable. See
5. Access -- 1926.451(e)
a. Under paragraph (e)(1) the use of cross bracing as a means
of access is prohibited.
b. The revised standard does not specifically prohibit climbing
over or through a guardrail.
(1) There is no consensus with regard to climbing over or
through guardrails; therefore, OSHA has not adopted a rule prohibiting the
(2) Gates, removable rails or chains across the point of access
c. 1926.451(e)(1) and (e)(8) both address direct access.
(1) Paragraph (e)(1) addresses vertical access, and paragraph
(e)(8) addresses direct access both vertically and
(2) Compliance officers should cite (e)(1) when the direct
access is more than 24 inches away vertically and (e)(8) when direct access
is more than 14 inches away horizontally.
d. 1926.451(e)(2) is not intended to require the use of ladder
climbing devices or cages on scaffolds.
e. 1926.451(e)(5) requires that ramps and walkways 6 feet or
more above a lower level shall have guardrail systems which comply with
f. See paragraph K.7.b. of this instruction for walkways which
are located within the framing of scaffold units.
6. Use of Scaffolds -- 1926.451(f).
a. Paragraph (f)(7) requires that the employer ensure that a
competent person having the required training, knowledge, and experience on
the type of scaffold system used, is at the site directing and
supervising the work during all erecting, dismantling, alteration, and moving
of the scaffold.
b. Employees engaged in this activity must also be trained in
accordance with 1926.454 and selected by the competent person.
c. Paragraph (f)(15) allows the use of ladders only on "large
area scaffolds." Ladders may not be used on other types of scaffold
platforms to increase the working height.
d. Paragraph (f)(16) is intended to apply only to wood scaffold
7. Fall Protection -- 1926.451(g)
a. 1926.451(g)(1)(iv) requires personal fall arrest systems in
addition to guardrail systems for employees whenever a self-contained
adjustable scaffold is supported only by ropes with no safety catch to
support the platform in the event of rope failure. The standard applies
whenever the platform is at a work level or is being raised or
b. Under paragraph (g)(1)(v), walkways which are within a
scaffold, such as inside the frame of a fabricated frame scaffold, have to be
guarded on at least one side of the walkway, and the guardrail system must be
within 9 1/2" of the walkway. (See paragraph K.5.d. above for walkways which
are not an integral part of the scaffold.)
c. Paragraph 1926.451(g)(3) permits lanyards attached to
personal fall arrest systems to be attached to vertical lifelines, horizontal
life lines or scaffold structural members.
(1) This decision is at the discretion of the competent
(2) If the lanyard is attached to a supported scaffold
structural member, the scaffold must be properly braced and tied-in to the
structure before being used as an anchorage point and must meet the
requirements of 1926.502(d), which defines the criteria for anchorage points
and other components of a personal fall arrest system.
d. Paragraph (g)(4) covers criteria for guardrail systems and
components. Appendix A of the standard provides specifications for certain
types of scaffolds, to assist in determining whether the guardrails meet the
strength requirements of the standard.
e. Paragraph (g)(4)(ii) covers the required minimum and maximum
height of the top rails.
(1) Note that the requirements for top rail height of
guardrails on supported scaffolds have been changed from 36 to 45 inches to
between 38 to 45 inches. However, this new provision applies only to
scaffolds manufactured or placed into service after January 1,
(2) Also, for platforms where personal fall arrest systems are
required as the primary type of fall protection, such as for suspended
systems, the top rail minimum height remains at 36 inches. As with subpart
M, guardrail toprails can exceed 45 inches only if all other pertinent
provisions of 1926.502(b) are followed.
f. While the previous standard was silent on the use of cross
bracing for guard rails, paragraph (g)(4)(xv) states that cross bracing is
acceptable in place of either the top rail or the midrail on a scaffold
system, but not both, when the crossing point is at the specified
8. Falling Object Protection -- 1926.451(h)
a. Paragraph (h)(1) clarifies that hard hats shall not be the
sole means of protecting employees from overhead falling
b. The use or non-use of hard hats by employees shall be
documented by compliance officers whenever it could affect the gravity of a
violation of this standard, for failure to institute any of the additional
protective measures mandated.
9. Additional Requirements for Specific Types of Scaffolds --
a. Item 2(z) of Appendix A provides guidance regarding the use
of tank builder's scaffolds, a type of scaffold which is covered only by the
general requirements of 1926.451, and which has no additional specific
provisions within 1926.452.
b. Scissors lifts are addressed by 1926.453 - Aerial Lifts, not
by 1926.452(w), mobile scaffolds.
10. Aerial lifts -- 1926.453
a. Paragraph 1926.453(b)(2)(v) requires a body belt and lanyard
attached to the boom or basket. As of January 1, 1998, Subpart M
(1926.502(d)) provides that body belts will no longer be acceptable as part
of a personal fall arrest system.
b. The use of a body belt in a tether system (i.e., to keep the
employee from going over the guardrail) is acceptable, however, and is
regulated under 1926.502(e).
11. Training Requirements -- 1926.454.
a. In accordance with paragraph (a), each employee working on a
scaffold must be trained regarding the requirements of Subpart L that are
associated with the type of work that employee is performing. Specifically,
training in associated hazards, methods of protection, and the maximum
intended load and load-carrying capacities of the scaffold must be included,
b. Training is particularly important for employees engaged in
erecting and dismantling operations. Paragraph (b) specifies the training
needed for those employees.
(1) Non-mandatory Appendix E of Subpart L provides specific
training topics for employees engaged in erecting and dismantling
(2) The CSHO shall interview those employees engaged in
erecting and dismantling operations to ascertain whether they have received
the necessary training required under 1926.454(b)(1)-(4).
c. The standard does not specify criteria for training
employees who have responsibilities as a competent person.
(1) If the compliance officer determines that an employee (or
management official) who has been serving in the capacity of a competent
person does not have the necessary knowledge to carry out those
responsibilities, violations of the requirements addressing specific
competent person duties under Sections 451 and 452 of Subpart L would also
(2) Refer to Appendix A of this Instruction for
additional guidance in assessing the capabilities of the competent
d. Section 1926.454 does not require certification, or other
documentation, of training. Compliance officers shall evaluate compliance
with the training requirements through observation of work practices,
inspections of rigging, correct utilization of scaffold equipment, and
interviews with employees and management representatives.
e. If training has been conducted but employees do not
understand or are not adhering to the requirements of Subpart L, a violation
of 454(c), which requires retraining to maintain proficiency, may
Under the scaffold standards, "competent persons" and "qualified persons"
have specified responsibilities. This Appendix summarizes the provisions in
Subpart L using those terms.
I. Competent Person.
A. Definition. "Competent person" is defined at 29 CFR
1926.450(b) as one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable
hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary,
hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take
prompt corrective measures to eliminate them. 29 CFR 1926.450(b).
1. A competent person must be knowledgeable about the
requirements of this standard and have sufficient training or knowledge to
identify and correct hazards encountered in scaffold work.
a. For the purposes of this Subpart, a competent person must
have had specific training in and be knowledgeable regarding the structural
integrity of scaffolds and the procedures needed to maintain
b. For example, a competent person must be able to evaluate the
effects of such potentially damage-causing occurrences as a dropped load or a
truck backing into a support leg.
2. By definition, the competent person must have the authority
to take prompt corrective measures to abate potentially hazardous work site
conditions. The exercise, or lack thereof, of this authority may frequently
be the deciding factor in assessing whether a particular individual is in
fact a competent person under Subpart L.
B. Duties of the Competent Person.
1. 29 CFR 1926.451(b)(10). Only a competent person can permit
the modification of scaffold components manufactured by different
manufacturers when they are used in conjunction with each other, and must
ensure that the resulting scaffold is structurally sound.
2. 29 CFR 1926.451(b)(11). Scaffold components made of
dissimilar metals are not to be used together unless a competent person has
determined that galvanic action will not reduce the strength of any component
to a level below that which is required by 1926.451(a)(1), i.e., capable of
supporting, without failure, its own weight and at least four times the
maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it.
3. These two preceding provisions reflect that, unless adequate
precautions are taken, an unsafe condition could be created by the
intermingling of differing scaffold components, or by the occurrence of
a. If scaffold components of different manufacturers or of
different metals are used together, the competent person must carefully
evaluate the scaffold to ensure structural soundness and the absence of
b. OSHA expects a competent person to be able to identify the
causes and significance of any deterioration present in scaffold components
and take the necessary corrective actions.
c. With respect to both these issues, the manufacturer's
recommendations should be reviewed and may be relied upon by the competent
4. 29 CFR 1926.451(d)(3)(i) requires that direct connections on
suspension scaffolds be evaluated by a competent person before the scaffold
is used to confirm that the surfaces are capable of supporting the loads to
a. OSHA anticipates that compliance with this provision will
ensure that roof or floor decks are capable of supporting the loads to be
imposed as well as ensuring that those connections are properly designed and
b. The competent person must have the ability to identify any
problems with the direct connections and the authority to make any necessary
5. 29 CFR 1926.451(d)(10) requires the competent person to
inspect all ropes used in suspension scaffolds for defects prior to each work
shift and after every occurrence which could affect a rope's
a. Paragraph (d)(10) goes on to require the replacement of
damaged, kinked, or abraded rope, as well as to specify other conditions
b. This paragraph adopts the ANSI standard provisions
describing damaged and defective rope as representing good industry practice.
See ANSI A10.8-1988, Par. 6.7.10.
6. 29 CFR 1926.451(d)(18). A competent person is also required
to evaluate multi-point suspension scaffolds to determine whether they need
to be tied or otherwise secured to prevent them from swaying.
7. 29 CFR 1926.451(e)(9)(i). For employees erecting or
dismantling supported scaffolds, a competent person will have to determine
the feasibility and safety of using a "safe means of access," based on, for
example, site conditions and the type of scaffold being erected or
a. OSHA has determined that, while there may be some situations
where providing safe access for scaffold erectors and dismantlers is
difficult, employers who carefully evaluate their scaffold operations can
provide safe access or, at least minimize employee exposure to
b. The competent person, therefore, will be expected to
determine the appropriate means of access for erectors/dismantlers based on a
site-specific analysis of the workplace conditions.
8. 29 CFR 1926.451(f)(3). The competent person is also
required to inspect the scaffold and its components for visible defects
before each work shift and after any occurrence which could affect the
scaffold's structural integrity.
a. However, on very large frame systems, the inspection is only
required for areas to be used that work shift by employees.
b. The standard does not require that the competent person
document the inspection findings.
9. In addition, 29 CFR 1926.451(g)(4)(xiv) requires that any
manila or synthetic rope being used for top rails or midrails be inspected by
the competent person as often as necessary (daily and/or prior to use) to
ensure that it continues to meet the strength requirements of 29 CFR
10. 29 CFR 1926.451(f)(7). A competent person qualified in
scaffold erection, moving, dismantling or alteration is required to supervise
and direct all scaffold erection, moving, alteration or dismantling
a. Such activities are to be performed only by trained and
experienced employees selected by the competent person.
b. The standard makes clear that, for these activities, the
competent person must actually be on site and directing the
11. 29 CFR 1926.451(g)(2). For each scaffold erection and
dismantling operation, the competent person will have to determine the
feasibility of providing fall protection.
a. Employers must provide fall protection to scaffold erectors
and dismantlers unless there are valid reasons not to.
b. The standard does not require that these reasons be
c. Compliance officers shall evaluate the employer's claims of
infeasibility or greater hazard and document on-site observations and
interviews with the competent person and other affected workers relating to
any such claim.
12. 29 CFR 1926.451(f)(12). During storms or high winds, work on
or from scaffolds is prohibited unless a competent person has determined that
it is safe and that employees on the scaffold are protected by a personal
fall arrest system or wind screens. High winds are any wind conditions that
adversely affect the stability of the scaffold or the safety of the
employees. Rather than setting a specific wind speed limit, the standard
directs the competent person, after analysis of all pertinent information, to
ensure that the scaffold is safe under high wind conditions, that protective
measures have been instituted, and that work may safely be done from the
C. Compliance Issues for Competent Persons.
1. A CSHO's determination of the employer's compliance with
requirements involving a competent person will involve judgments on complex
issues. The compliance officer must evaluate all the factors associated with
competent person requirements.
2. The duties of the competent person may be shared among
a. However, each must possess the qualifications related to his
or her area of responsibility, and each must have the ability and authority
to take corrective action.
(1) For example, an individual designated as the competent
person for the erecting of the scaffold might not be the same individual who
inspects the scaffold before each work shift.
(2) Also, different individuals may be designated competent
persons depending on the type of scaffold used.
b. An individual who has competent person responsibilities for
supported scaffolds would not need to have knowledge of requirements related
to suspended scaffolds on the work site, if another individual were assigned
3. The employer may rely on the expertise of persons who are
not employees, such as consultants and scaffold systems representatives, to
design, erect and dismantle scaffolds.
a. This may be acceptable if that individual actually
supervises the work being done and has authority to correct hazards.
Additionally, contractors on a multi-employer site may rely on employees of
the general contractor or another subcontractor to fulfill competent person
responsibilities, if all the qualification criteria are met.
b. The compliance officer would need to determine whether, for
the specific site and operation in question, the employer has effectively
complied by designating another employer's employee as the competent
4. When more than one employer erects and uses a scaffold, the
compliance officer will need to determine who the controlling and exposing
employers are and document factors related to OSHA's multi-employer citation
a. The compliance officer must exercise professional judgment
in these situations and a variety of case-by-case factors will need to be
b. Information contained in the general contractor's and the
subcontractors' safety programs and contract requirements, as well as copies
of safety meeting minutes, written correspondence between contractors, and
employer and employee interviews will be helpful in determining
responsibility for violations.
II. Qualified Person.
A. Definition A "qualified" person means "one who, by
possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or
by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully
demonstrated his/her ability to solve or resolve problems related to the
subject matter, the work, or the project". 29 CFR 1926.450(b).
1. Section 29 CFR 1926.451(a)(6) requires that scaffolds be
designed by a qualified person. Non-mandatory Appendix A contains examples
of criteria to guide an employer in designing scaffold systems. With certain
exceptions carried over from the previous rule, the qualified person
designing the scaffold need not be an engineer. Those exceptions are found
in the following provisions:
a. 1926.451(d)(3)(i). Scaffold connections for masons'
adjustable multi-point suspension scaffolds must be designed by an engineer
"experienced in such scaffold design."
b. 1926.452(a)(10), (b)(10), (i)(8). Pole scaffolds over 60',
tube and coupler scaffolds over 125', and outrigger scaffolds must be
designed by a "registered professional engineer" and constructed and loaded
in accordance with that design. Appendix A of the standard contains examples
of criteria that will enable the employer to comply with the design and
c. 1926.452(c)(6). Fabricated frame scaffolds over 125 feet in
height above their base plate must be designed by a "registered professional
engineer" and constructed and loaded in accordance with that design. In
addition, brackets used to support cantilevered loads on such scaffolds shall
be used only to support personnel unless the scaffold has been designed for
other loads by a "qualified engineer" and is built to withstand the tipping
forces generated by such loads. See 29 CFR
2. Other designs required by a qualified person include the
a. 29 CFR 1926.452(o)(2)(i) requires the supporting rope on
single-point adjustable suspension scaffolds be kept vertical unless, among
other requirements, the rigging has been designed by a qualified
b. 29 CFR 1926.452(p)(1) requires that platforms on two-point
adjustable suspension scaffolds (swing stages) shall not be more than 36
inches wide unless designed by a "qualified" person to prevent unstable
NOTE: Paragraph (p)(1) does not apply to two-point
adjustable suspension scaffolds used as masons' or stone setters' scaffolds.
See 29 CFR 1926.452(q).
c. 29 CFR 1926.454(a) requires the employer to 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
Joseph A. Dear Assistant Secretary
DISTRIBUTION: National, Regional, and Area Offices All Compliance Officers
State Designees NIOSH Regional Program Directors 7(C)(1) Project Managers