SCAFFOLD SAFETY RULES: This help guide explains the licence requirements, a safety checklist, and how to find a trained scaffold contractor.
You should never put up scaffolding materials on a building unless you have the proper training to do so.
Thus, you must use someone who is competent and trained. As a rule, that means a qualified builder or a professional scaffolder.
Putting up scaffolding on the highway or the pavement requires a licence in the United Kingdom. The responsibility for getting the licence rests with the scaffolding company (or builder).
Even so, you will also have certain responsibilities to meet after hiring a scaffolding company. You must check contractors have the legal document for any work being undertaken. You must also ensure that the licence does not expire before the building work gets completed.
Note: You can contact your local council authority for a list of approved scaffolding contractors.
Scaffolding Safety Regulations
In some cases, working at height (e.g. cleaning high windows) and scaffolding work can be a risk to the public. If so, try to schedule the work for quieter periods when there are less pedestrians around. You may also need to get a highway closure from the council authority.
According to health and safety laws, there are several things you must check to ensure the scaffolding is safe. As a rule, the site and the equipment need checking:
- Before you start to use it.
- On a regular basis (at least every seven (7) days) once it gets erected.
- After any alterations, including any time the scaffold gets damaged or subjected to extreme weather conditions.
This section helps to clarify when to use a specific scaffold design. It also highlights the level of skills training and competence needed. It relates to the erecting, the dismantling, and altering of the site.
Note: The same scaffolding laws regulations apply to anyone inspecting and supervising scaffolding operations.
As a rule, the construction of scaffolding should follow the Work at Height Regulations 2005. This conforms to a generally recognised standard configuration of tube and fitting scaffolds (e.g. NASC Technical Guidance TG20).
But, in some cases, the scaffold may need designing to a bespoke calculation. Only a competent person should undertake the bespoke option. All scaffolding designs must have stability, adequate strength, and rigidity.
You should supply some relevant information to the scaffold contractor before the planning process begins. This helps to ensure they follow an accurate and proper scaffolding design process. As a rule, the relevant information should include:
- An accurate description of the site location and the nature of the ground conditions (or supporting structure).
- Are there any other specific requirements or provisions. Typical examples include a hoist, a pedestrian walkway, or a restriction on tie locations.
- The intended use of the scaffold and how long you expect it to stay in place.
- The scaffold height and length along with any critical dimensions which may affect the site.
- The number of boarded lifts.
- The maximum working loads imposed and maximum number of people using the scaffold at any one time.
- Will there be a need for brick guards, netting, or sheeting.
- What type of access will be used to get onto the scaffold (e.g. a ladder bay, external ladders assembly, or a staircase).
The scaffolding checklist should precede any scaffold installation. It then allows the contractor (or the designer) to provide the design needed for the site, such as:
- The type of scaffold required for the job (e.g. tube and fitting or system).
- The maximum number of bay lengths and maximum lift heights.
- The platform boarding arrangement (i.e. 5 + 2) and how many boarded lifts can be used at any given time.
- A safe working load, load class, and maximum number of leg loads.
- The maximum tie spacing (horizontal and vertical) and the specified tie duty.
- The details of any additional elements to a standard configuration (e.g. beamed bridges, fans, loading bays).
- The reference number and date to enable recording, referencing, and checking.
Note: Some types of scaffold structures will require a bespoke design. It would apply to any formation that is not a standard configuration. A competent person must produce a specific design if the erection does not comply with the guidelines of the scaffolding manufacturer.