What’s In Training?

By David H. Glabe, P.E. / March 31, 2002

What can be said about scaffold training that hasn’t been said already?  You should be aware that training is required for all employees involved with scaffolds.  This training goes beyond the training originally required in the General Safety and Health Provisions of the US Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, Construction Standards.  In fact, the scaffold standards require specific training for users, erectors, and inspectors, and others as specified in  29CFR1926.454.  Unfortunately, there appears to be considerable misinformation concerning scaffold training so let’s review some facts and fiction of scaffold training:




  • Training for employees has been required since 1971;
  • One definition of training is “the education, instruction, or discipline of a person or thing that is being trained.” (Webster’s Universal College Dictionary);
  • Training for scaffold users is to be done by a qualified person;
  • A competent person is an individual who can identify hazards that will result in serious injury or death, and  has authority to do something about the hazard;
  • No trainer (that would be the person giving the training) can make you a competent person;
  • OSHA cannot make you a competent person;
  • A certificate or wallet card does not make you competent;
  • Only the employer can make an employee a competent person;
  • A qualified instructor can give you training so you can become a competent person;
  • Competency is demonstrated, not certificated;
  • Not all scaffold instructors are qualified;
  • A good training course will include topics and information that goes beyond the OSHA minimum training requirements;
  • OSHA never intended the training standards to limit the training you get (it really is okay to get more training than the minimum required by the regulations);
  • The OSHA training standards require that you receive retraining if you forgot your training (The suggests that re-retraining is required if you forgot the retraining and so on until you get it right!);
  • The OSHA Training Institute offers a scaffold course;
  • The Scaffold Industry Association offers a variety of scaffolding courses, including suspended and supported scaffold classes;
  • The Scaffold Industry Association has scaffold courses for both the user and the professional scaffold erector;
  • The Scaffold Industry Association is translating its programs into Spanish;
  • The Scaffold Industry Association is compiling a database of multi-lingual instructors;
  • The Scaffold Industry Association is expanding the courses that are available for you to use;






  • It only takes four hours to take the OSHA ten hour class;
  • A scaffold instructor can make you a competent person;
  • Anybody can be a scaffold instructor;
  • Limited scaffold training cannot be completed in less than eight hours;
  • Erectors do not need training;
  • Sales people do not need training;
  • Engineers do not need training;
  • OSHA compliance officers do not need training;
  • OSHA provides sufficient funding for training;
  • OSHA certifies scaffold erectors;
  • Scaffold erectors are exempt from training;
  • A wallet card proves you are trained;
  • Training can only be done by the employer;
  • Only an OSHA “certified” instructor can do scaffold training.


This issue of scaffold training can be confusing, especially if you don’t understand the requirements and expectations.  Consulting a qualified person will help.  However, the bottom line is this:  Anybody involved with scaffolding should understand his or her limitations, realizing that another individual’s life may be at risk.  Safety is everybody’s business, and it is serious business.

Tags: Scaffolding OSHA Standards & Regulations Resources scaffold training

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