Scaffold Use: 3 Key Roles of a Competent Person

It is advisable (and often mandated by law) for someone to be designated as a competent person who will oversee the proper use of scaffolding. This article discusses some of the crucial roles that the competent person is expected to perform. Use this information to identify a competent person before you hire scaffolding for your project. 

Scaffold Inspection

The competent person is tasked with inspecting each component of the scaffolding system before employees use that scaffolding. This inspection can be done before each shift of workers starts its duties. The competent person can also inspect the scaffolding after an incident that may have affected the structural integrity of that scaffolding. For example, heavy tools may have fallen onto the scaffolding from a worksite higher up. The inspection can result in timely repairs so that employees aren't injured as they work on the scaffold.

Employee Selection and Training

The competent person is also responsible for selecting the employees that will participate in assembling, dismantling or moving the scaffolding as the need arises. He or she can also train those individuals so that they are in position to execute the assigned scaffolding tasks without putting their safety and that of other employees at risk. The competent person may also train the workers who will be working on that scaffolding. This training could include how to use safety equipment, such as personal fall arresters. Properly trained employees are less likely to take avoidable risks as they use or set up the scaffolding.

Hazard Assessment

The competent person plays a crucial role in determining when it is no longer safe for employees to remain working on scaffolding. For example, he or she may call off work when the prevailing wind makes it risky for workers to stay on the scaffold. He or she also inspects each scaffold installation site in order to find any hazards that may be present. For instance, the competent person may not approve the erection of scaffolding on a pavement that has a tunnel underneath it because the scaffold may collapse after its legs punch a hole through that paved surface.

As you can see, the safe use of scaffolding almost depends entirely on the vigilance of the competent person overseeing the scaffolding. It is therefore wise for you to select a competent person who is high-ranking so that he or she will not hesitate to make a decision that will keep hazards at bay even if that decision affects the continuation of the project.