Basic scaffolding regulations you need to know

Basic scaffolding regulations you need to know

How to stay safe and legal when using scaffolding or towers

When erected correctly, scaffolding provides a platform from which workers can undertake working at height more safely and for prolonged periods. It also enables multiple workers to be involved, as well as the use of tools and materials that might not be used safely without scaffolding. However, poorly erected scaffolding can increase the possibility of accidents. The illusion of being safe when working at height can lead to workers taking risks they would otherwise avoid.

In this article, you’ll learn the basic scaffolding regulations that will help you to erect a legal and safe platform for people working at height.

Remember that scaffolding is not fool-proof safety

Thankfully, the number of accidents recorded by NASC (National Access and Scaffolding Confederation) members fell to a record low in 2017 – as reported in the NASC 2018 Safety Report. With only 89 incidences and 17 major injuries, and none involving the public, it is another step in the right direction.

However, the numbers also underline an important fact: using scaffolding does not eliminate risk, but simply reduces risk, in a similar way that using personal protective equipment helps to protect but does not offer 100% protection.

Des Moore, CEO of TRAD Group and NASC President, said: “The 2018 Safety Report shows how workplace accidents can be reduced through compliance with industry safety standards and adherence to NASC guidance.

So, what are the basic scaffolding regulations that must be followed?

Basic scaffolding regulations

There are many rules and regulations that must be followed when erecting and using scaffolding. As a contractor or company using or erecting scaffolding it is your responsibility to:

  • Only allow competent people to erect scaffolding – they must be trained. Companies employing scaffolders must check that correct licences are held and that they are in date.
  • Obtain the relevant licences to allow scaffolding to be erected on pavements or public highways.
  • Ensure that work on scaffolding is undertaken during quieter times where the scaffolding is erected in a public place. This will minimise the risk of injury to the public.
  • Have the scaffolding inspected before it is used, and then inspected at least every seven days while the scaffolding is in use as well as after any alteration and after any extreme weather.

Keeping workers safe at height – your obligations

Of course, it is not only the erection of scaffolding that presents risks. Working at height is hazardous, irrespective of the use of scaffolding or towers. Therefore, under the Work at Height Regulations 2005, you must ensure that those working at height (including those working on scaffolds) are trained and competent, and that there are precautions taken to prevent accidents. This includes utilising two types of protection:

·       Personal protection

Measures taken to protect individuals, and which require an action to be effective, are classed as personal protection. For example, this may be the wearing of hard hats or the use of a safety harness. The personal protection should be provided, workers trained in its use, and the requirement to use such protection should be included in employee handbooks, policies and procedures.

·       Collective protection

This type of protection applies to all (including the public) and does not require an action to be taken. An example is safety netting to prevent objects falling onto passers-by.

Use of towers instead of scaffolding

A second option for working at heights is to use a tower instead of scaffolding. The rules regulating their erection and use are similar to those that apply to scaffolding. This includes that only competent people may erect, inspect and use a tower.

A tower must:

  • Have enough platforms so that they may be installed at two-metre height intervals during assembly and dismantling
  • Have a built-in access ladder or staircase
  • Be fitted with four stabilisers pertinent to the size of the tower
  • Be fitted with toe boards to prevent materials falling

A tower must be inspected after it has been built and before it is used for the first time, and then at suitable intervals and each time something happens that may affect its stability.

Preventing falls while erecting scaffolding or a tower

While erecting scaffolding, falls can be prevented by using suitable harnessing or an advanced guardrail system. Guardrail systems should be used when erecting and dismantling towers. The two types of guardrails that may be used are:

·       Through the Trap

Guardrails are put into place (or removed) before stepping onto the platform, from a seated position within the trap door.

·       Advance Guardrail

Guardrails are put into place before anyone steps onto the platform, at ground level for the first platform, and from a protected platform below for subsequent higher platforms.

Keep your workers and the public safe when using scaffolding and towers. To help you reap the benefits of good health and safety in the workplace, contact Sentry today and discover the online intelligent system that will help your business remain health and safety compliant with minimum effort.

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