Scaffold Roles and Responsibilities

Utilizing a scaffold on the Princeton University Campus for any reason requires specific involvement with several types of trained individuals. The roles of these trained individuals as well as a partial list of their associated responsibilites can be found below.

Competent Person

A competent person is an employee who is capable of identifying existing or predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate these hazards.  Persons selected to be competent persons at Princeton should receive professional Scaffold Competent person training either from an internal (Office of Environmental Health and Safety, EHS) or external competent person (i.e. Scaffold Training Institute or similar vendor). Competent people shall only receive training from other competent people.  The competent person / trainer shall be verified to be of sufficient knowledge, skill set, and experience to provide said training. The department will designate, identify, and provide training for competent persons within the department. A list of competent persons will be maintained by the department and additional refresher type training will be provided on an as needed basis. The periodicity of this training to be determined by EHS and the department’s management, but should not exceed a period of 5 years from the previous training. The department also to provide competent person with document indicating that they are competent persons representing their respective departments and shall agree to uphold all local, state, and federal rules and regulations as they relate to scaffolding.

A competent person’s responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • Design and preplanning of the scaffold including weight limitations, scaffold type, fall protection, tie-offs, supports, etc.
  • Overseeing the erection of the scaffold
  • Final inspection of the scaffold prior to initial occupation for use.
  • At a minimum, daily inspection and documentation of the condition of the scaffold and its ability to be occupied safely.
  • Inspections of scaffolds after changes / alterations have been made.
  • Oversight and inspections of mobile scaffolds.
  • Training of other competent persons, scaffold erectors, and users.
  • Contact EHS for assistance and guidance in any of the duties associated with being a Competent Person.

Scaffold Erector

Scaffold erectors are those employees who have been designated (based on training and experience) by the department to be the employees who are responsible for the erection and maintenance of department scaffolds on the Princeton University campus. Only authorized scaffold erectors can erect scaffolds on campus. Erectors can solicit materials and components from other employees who may be on the ground, but the ultimate adding / subtracting of components to a scaffold shall be accomplished by an authorized scaffold erector. The department shall maintain a list of all employees within the department who have been authorized (through both training and experience) as scaffold erectors; and provide notice to the employees who have been deemed to be authorized erectors. Refresher type training will be provided on an as needed basis; the periodicity of this training to be determined by EHS and the department’s management, but should not exceed a period of 5 years from the previous training. Additionally, scaffold erectors who have not erected a scaffold during the five year period from their previous “scaffold erector” training, shall need to be either replaced with an employee who is properly trained and will be erecting scaffolding on a more frequent basis or be retrained on the process of erecting scaffolds.

A scaffold erector’s responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • Erecting scaffolds in accordance with local, state, and federal. Erectors also must abide by all manufacturer recommendations and be capable of erecting scaffolds under the guidance of a competent person.
  • Inspecting all scaffold components prior to assembly to insure that components used are of similar material and in good repair before becoming a part of the completed scaffold. This includes (but is not limited to): mudsills, screw jacks, frames, braces, planks, access ladders, brackets, etc.
  • Maintaining fall protection requirements while erecting / dismantling scaffolds.
  • Providing a scaffold to the user that is free from recognizable and preventable hazards (i.e. fall protection systems in place, falling object prevention in place, appropriate access / egress to and from the scaffold, appropriate anchorage and stability of the structure, appropriate walking / working surfaces, maintaining appropriate clearances from electrical hazards, etc.)
  • Prior to occupation scaffold erectors must notify the competent person that the scaffold has been erected and is ready to be inspected.
  • Training of other scaffold users if needed.
  • Contacting and coordinating with the Competent Person regarding any issues associated with the erection of a scaffold.
  • Contacting EHS if there is a concern regarding the erection of the scaffold.

Scaffold User

A scaffold user is defined as any employee who utilizes an elevated temporary work platform (scaffold) to perform work. Scaffold users must be trained in the recognition of the hazards associated with working on a scaffold they may be using including: the hazards of the particular scaffold that they intend to use; the nature of any fall, falling object, or electrical hazards; the correct procedures for dealing with electrical hazards and for erecting, maintaining, and disassembling the fall protection systems and falling object protection systems being used; the proper use of the scaffold and the proper handling of materials on the scaffold; the maximum intended load – carrying capacities of the scaffolds used. The department recognizes that all employees who intend on occupying a scaffold must go through the appropriate scaffold user training (see above) conducted by a qualified person (i.e. EHS staff Competent person, or qualified person). Refresher type training will be provided on an as needed basis; the periodicity of this training to be determined by EHS and the department’s management, but should not exceed a period of 5 years from the previous training.

A scaffold user’s responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • Examining the scaffold tag (which should be affixed near the access point) to verify that a competent person has deemed the scaffold safe for use. This must be done prior to initial use of the scaffold each shift.
  • Refusing to occupy a scaffold prior to the Competent Person providing documentation indicating that the scaffold has been inspected and deemed safe. Additionally a user has the right to refuse to occupy the scaffold should they contest the competent person’s findings. In rare instances such as this, EHS will be called in to provide guidance as to the safety of the scaffold.
  • Notifying the competent person of any safety concerns associated with the erection, conditions, use, and / or maintenance of the scaffold.
  • Utilizing scaffolds in accordance with all local, state, federal, manufacturer, and institutional rules and regulations.
  • Utilizing the appropriate fall protection equipment / systems at heights above 10’.


Program Manager
Assistant Director