What Is Offshore Scaffolding?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Offshore scaffolding is a form of scaffolding used on offshore oil rigs to allow workers access to various areas of the rig for construction, drilling, maintenance, and repair operations. Suppliers of this product can offer both components for scaffolding construction and experienced scaffolding crews to put it in place, maintain it, and bring it down when it is no longer needed. This type of oil and gas work typically requires previous experience and may in some cases also require a certification to work at extreme heights.

An offshore oil platform.
An offshore oil platform.

Scaffolding provides support for personnel and equipment on a temporary basis for activities like construction and maintenance. When an offshore rig is built, scaffolding is necessary for support as workers create the project. Once a rig is finished, installations of offshore scaffolding can be periodically necessary for activities like cleaning, painting, replacing worn components, and inspecting parts of the rig that cannot be reached from fixed walkways and platforms.

An offshore scaffolding crew can assess the needs of a rig, build appropriate scaffolding, and make sure it remains in good condition while in use. They may need to work with safety harnesses because of the height of the rigging, and also need to make sure the scaffolding is rated for the potential weight that it may bear. They work with a variety of metals as well as wood and engineered plastics to create the framework, and add decking to make it easier to move around.

Members of the crew may work for an oil company or a scaffolding contractor. The pay can vary, but can be high because of the large amount of time spent away from home and the potential dangers of the work. Scaffolding crews may need to travel for extended periods to access remote rigs with complex offshore scaffolding needs. Like other oil and gas workers, they may receive benefits like paid location, shore leave near a rig location, and travel vouchers, depending on the company and the level of seniority.

To work on offshore scaffolding, people usually need scaffolding experience on shore. This can include experience in a variety of areas within the construction trade, although industrial construction skills may be preferred. If the rig is high enough and regional laws apply, people who work at great heights may need safety certifications. Completion of a safety class will allow a worker to perform rigging at significant heights and supervise coworkers on the job.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@speechie - I know that no offshore jobs were talked about as fast growing in the most recent United States Department of Labor statistical analysis of the fastest growing occupations, but that makes sense - it seems it would be difficult to quickly build such sites (or even if companies can build many).

The fastest growing jobs are often in health care (physical therapists, dental hygienists, etc.) as that is something that everyone needs so all that these jobs need for their profession to keep growing is for the population to keep growing, and I do not see that stopping any time soon!


@geekish - What I have read shows that the offshore positions can be six months on then six months off!

I personally cannot imagine being on a vessel as I imagine the offshore job site to be for six months! It seems like one month might be much more do-able!

Also the salaries I saw were typically for fifty thousand to sixty thousand for those six months. I wonder how in demand this type of job is?


I remember when I was in college in Mississippi; one of my guy friends would talk about working an offshore job. He seemed to think this oil job would answer his financial difficulties, as most college students were struggling he was particularly struggling because his parents were not able to aid him in any way.

He never did do this type of job, but I remember thinking two things because of my friend's description of the job - 1) that it was dangerous and 2) that it must pay decently (especially considering you are away from everyone for months).

How long are contracts for jobs like this, like if I was to look for a contract with various offshore scaffolding companies?

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