OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

May 10, 2001

Mr. Bernie Bridger
Intertek Testing Services (Japan) K.K.
ITS Inteco
Bellwood Eitai, 9th Floor
2-31-15, Eitai
Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0034

Re: §§1926.450-1926.454; Scaffolds imported to the U.S.

Dear Mr. Bridger:

This responds to your April 17 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in which you request guidance regarding the requirements applicable to the design, inspection and testing of imported scaffolding. You are representing a Japanese manufacturer who wishes to export a suspended panel type scaffold to the United States.

OSHA does not have specification standards for domestic or foreign manufactured scaffolding. We do have safety standards that must be met when employees are required to use scaffolds in the performance of their work. OSHA's construction scaffolding standards can be found in Subpart L, 29 CFR 1926.450-1926.454. I call special attention to §1926.452 (o), 1926.452(p) and 1926.452(q), which cover suspended scaffolds.

Typically, scaffold manufacturers use engineering calculations, testing results, and other considerations to design scaffolds which will provide required safety factors. They may reference the American National Standards Institute consensus standards — A10.8-Scaffolding Safety Requirements, when preparing guidelines for the safe use of scaffolds.

Subpart L does, however, require the employer's competent person" to inspect each scaffold for any visible defects before each work shift, and after any occurrence which could adversely affect the scaffold's structural integrity (§1926.451(f)(3)). Section 1926.450(a) defines a competent person 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."

For your convenience, we have enclosed a copy of OSHA's scaffolding standards. If you need additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction

[Corrected 6/2/2005]