A scaffold is defined as any temporary elevated work platform (supported or suspended) and its supporting structure (including points of anchorage) used for supporting employees or materials or both. Note that there are three main points to the definition: it is elevated, it is temporary, and it supports either personnel or materials or both.
Scaffolds are divided into two main categories, those supported from underneath, or those suspended from above. OSHA has specific rules for 25 different types of scaffolds in 29CFR 1926.452. This paper is a short overview of some of the general requirements for supported scaffolds.
When planning a scaffold job, one of the first considerations is training of personnel. All personnel who will use a scaffold must have User training, covering such topics as fall protection, loading, electrical safety, material handling, falling object protection and safe work practices (1926.454(a)). All personnel involved in inspecting, erecting, or modifying scaffolds must be trained in scaffold hazards, assembly procedures, design criteria, loading, OSHA regulations, and manufacturer's recommended assembly instructions as applicable to the type of scaffold being used. (1926.454(b)). A Competent Person must supervise erection and perform inspections every workshift (1926.451(f)(7) and 1926.451(f)(3).