Dr Mobile | Scaffolding Companies Checklist

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03/04/19
Scaffolding will always be one of the most highly used construction tools, regardless of a project, whether it's a small domestic job or a commercial property project - scaffolding equipment is always required. Safety for construction sites are the reason that scaffolding exists, allowing workers to be at height without posing a high risk of falling. Since safety is imperative in any working environment, scaffolding must be strong, reliable, and in keeping with health and safety standards. Scaffolding systems are governed by a set of standards that must be factored in, but also in the process of organising a building project you must consider what policies and regulations apply to you so you can assemble and operate your scaffolding safely and efficiently. This guide is intended to confirm what are the necessary points to consider and the information needed for the planning process involved with using scaffolding.

By definition, scaffolding is a temporary structure erected to support access and working platforms. This includes:
  • Prefabricated scaffolds
  • Tube and coupler scaffold
  • Cantilevered scaffold
  • Suspended scaffold

At the beginning of this process, there are several points for the scaffold contractor to consider for an accurate and safe design process. Planning is the first step to ensuring that work is performed safely. Planning for scaffolding operations should begin as early as possible, and involve some level of consultation with everyone involved in the process including the main contractor, the plant owner, the supplier/erector, designer, sub-contractor, and safety personnel. The basics for this initial checklist include:
  • Choosing the right scaffolding for the task
  • Consideration of live or environmental loads
  • Scheduling of the coordination
  • Planning of the dismantling and operations on or near the scaffolding
  • The implementation of scaffold plans and handover certificates

Scaffolding Safety Measures

Effective planning and following a checklist will help the operation to run as smoothly as possible as well as protect the people involved - those erecting and dismantling the scaffolding, working on or in nearby public areas. This checklist can be implemented to assist in the setup and general usage of scaffolding at construction workplaces. The assessment can be led by a principal contractor, person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), or a health and safety representative (HSR) and should be followed in consultation and coordination with everyone involved in the process. The Health and Safety Act of 2011 highlights that a PCBU must consult (as far as it is reasonably practicable) with workers who are going to be directly affected by matters of health and safety. Records of completed checklists can be kept and monitored and reviewed over the duration of the process. An estimated 2.3 million construction workers or 65 percent of the construction industry work on scaffolding, so it is essential that the scaffolding company safeguard those who will are potentially put at risk. Some of the key health and safety items you must consider include the following:
  • Ensuring that those who are employed are fully competent for the work involved and have received the necessary training relevant to the type of work they will be doing.
  • Those employed must have sufficient levels of supervision taking into consideration the complexity of the work involved and receive the necessary training for erecting and dismantling the scaffolding.
  • As a requirement - every scaffolding firm must have at least one member who has received the training required for the type of scaffold being worked on.
  • Trainee scaffolders must work within the supervision of a trained and competent scaffolder. ‘Operatives’ are technically classified as trainees up until they have received the necessary training and assessment.
  • Scaffolding operatives must be fully aware of and ongoing changes in safety guidance and the necessary professional practices involved within the scaffolding industry.

Further guidance on the necessary expertise of advanced scaffolders including details of which structures are deemed suitable to erect scaffolding can be found on the Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) website.

Scaffolding Equipment

The necessary tools and equipment you need for scaffolding can vary depending on what type of scaffolding you are going to use or if you are using a scaffolding tower. However, there are a few fundamental items that you will generally need for a scaffolding project. These are as follows:

Planks

These are used for the scaffolders to walk on and will need to be of an appropriate size and made of a suitable, durable material. The planks will usually come in the form of wooden boards or steel or aluminium planks. The planks should have the strength to be able to hold at least two average-sized men.

Cross bars

Cross bars describe the diagonal bars that go across the frame keeping the scaffold structure in place, providing extra strength. This means the scaffold can support much heavier loads and also allows for it to be built higher but still be safe. Moreover, the cross bars provide an additional barrier to prevent anyone from falling from the scaffolding.

Framing

These are the bars and poles which go across the framing of the scaffold structure making up the general structure of the frame. The framing must be regularly checked over time to ensure that the condition of it is suitable for continued usage. Poles that appear to be rusting should be replaced as this is an indication that they are not as strong as they should be.

Pins and clamps

These devices are simply used to keep the structure together, and it is integral that they are regularly checked. This is because, if one pin or clamp fails or is damaged, the integrity of the whole structure is put at risk.

Base plates

These are placed under the lower scaffold poles and spread the weight of the scaffold so the legs of the scaffold can put less pressure on the ground. They also prevent the structure from slipping.

Safety barriers

Dependent on the intended use of the scaffold, added safety features may be required. Although netting may not necessarily be strong enough to prevent a person from falling, it can prevent any building equipment from falling off of the scaffold structure - also protecting anyone working below the structure.

Tape measure and socket set

Although it sounds obvious, a tape measure is essential in making sure that the scaffold is built in accordance with the requirements set out in the plan. In addition to this, without a reliable socket set or spanner, you will be unable to tighten any of the clamps, another essential feature of the scaffold.

Personal protection

In the UK, it is a requirement that anyone working on a building site has the necessary safety equipment and protective clothing to protect themselves. This would include, a high visibility jacket, steel-toed shoes and a hard hat.

Scaffolding licensing

It will be the responsibility of the scaffolding company to acquire a license for any kind of scaffolding used. However, it's the responsibility of the contractor to ensure that the legal documentation is in place and doesn’t run out prior to the project ending. If you are planning to use scaffolding, an application must be submitted before any kind of structure can be put in place. There are two types of scaffolding licence types, these are applicable to either standard free-standing scaffolding and section 169 for load support scaffolding. Your local council will have the authority to issue licences for scaffolding. A scaffolding licence costs £90 per 28 day period. For contractors there is an additional fee of £28 for any additional site visits required for inspection, this does not comply with the conditions of the licence.

Your local council will have an approved register of scaffolding contractors.

Scaffolding Training

In total, becoming a qualified scaffolder takes around three years to achieve. After an induction and health and safety testing process, a trainee scaffolder would be registered with the CISRS (Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme). Most of the training would be done on site under the supervision of chargehand scaffolders. The trainee would be continually assessed and the appropriate training courses would be booked through the National Construction College. There would be two week-long courses and a practical assessment to do. Scaffolding is considered one of the most physically demanding jobs in construction, lifting heavy items and working long hours in all kinds of weather conditions requires a certain level of physical fitness as well as a literacy and numeracy. Accurate usage of a tape measure is essential so it's helpful if a trainee is comfortable with imperial and metric measurements.

DH Scaffold Services Ltd is a specialist scaffold design company committed to providing a safe, cost-effective, and quality service. Established in 2011, we have years of industry experience and expertise as a scaffolding firm providing quality scaffolding solutions to countless customers. We offer a site survey service where we visit the location of your project and discuss the needs of your project with you or your client. DH Scaffold Services Ltd operate entirely in the UK, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact and we can provide a free quote, for a visit to your site. We are based in Sheffield so please get in touch to ask about a potential site visit or any other general queries and we will get back to you asap.