If you’re wondering how often scaffolding should be inspected in the UK, we’ve combined our expertise with government guidelines to give you the ultimate guide on scaffolding inspection. In this article, we’ll explain how often you should inspect your scaffolding, how to inspect your scaffolding as well as explain the dangers and risks that come along with using scaffolding on any construction project.
I’ll also do my best to answer some of the most common questions when it comes to scaffolding inspection, scaffolding safety, and worker safety when using scaffolding.
How often should scaffolding be inspected?
Scaffolding makes for a useful way to give builders and construction workers access to the building they’re working on in a safe, supervised environment. Completing building work (especially high-rise building work such as working on a roof) is highly dangerous and should always be discouraged. However, working with scaffolding poses its own risks and therefore necessary safety precautions should always be taken.
To maintain the integrity of your scaffolding construction, UK official government regulations make it compulsory for workers using scaffolding to abide by the following guidelines:
All scaffolding should be thoroughly checked before first use
When your scaffolding construction has been erected, you are legally obliged to carry out a check before using the scaffolding or allowing workers to mount the scaffolding. This check should be carried out by a qualified scaffolding professional.
Scaffolding should be checked every 7 days at the minimum
Once your scaffolding has been signed off by a qualified scaffolding professional, you should inspect the scaffolding for safety at a minimum every seven days. If you are working in highly-populated urban zones, you might want to increase the number of checks and inspections: urban zones are riskier than rural zones as there will typically be a higher frequency of passing pedestrians, who would be vulnerable to injury should parts of the scaffolding integrity fall or become detached.
Scaffolding should be subject to inspection after any event that might be considered damaging to the integrity of the construction
If your scaffolding is subject to adverse weather conditions such as wind, snowstorms, thunderstorms, heavy rain, or a hurricane, you should perform a thorough inspection to check that the safety of your scaffolding hasn’t been compromised. There are several other reasons you might want to inspect your scaffolding outside your regular 7-day inspections, these include incidents of trespassing, extreme weather, and interference from pedestrians.
You should also inspect your scaffolding if the structure undergoes any significant changes in its compositions – for example, adding another level, reducing height, and increasing the size of the scaffold.
What are the dangers associated with scaffolding? Is scaffolding safe?
Scaffolding, just like any other tool used for construction work, comes with its own risks and dangers. By following Health and Safety guidelines, most of these risks can be decreased and you can use scaffolding safely with zero incidents:
The safety of construction workers and nearby pedestrians is obviously one of the most important factors when constructing scaffolding. It’s important that scaffolding is constructed safely according to government guidelines and checked by a qualified professional before use. You can make use of scafftags and advanced guardrails to ensure that the construction of the scaffolding is performed safely. According to government guidelines, for the safety of construction workers, scaffolding work should not continue during extreme weather conditions. If wind speeds exceed 23mph, work should stop, as this will impact balance and lead to an increased possibility of accidents and falls.
Another important factor to take into consideration when using scaffolding is the weather: temperamental weather can damage the integrity of the scaffolding and pose serious safety risks. If you’re working on a long-term project, you have the option of adding a tin hat to your scaffolding. A tin hat functions as a roof for your construction workers and your scaffolding structure, protecting the integrity of the scaffolding (and your workers) from weather changes such as wind, rain, and snow. While tin hat scaffolding does add an extra layer of protection from the elements, it will hike up the cost of your scaffolding: you can expect to pay a minimum of around £1000 for a tin hat scaffolding roof.
Height of scaffolding
The height of your scaffolding is another risk factor for incidents and accidents: when constructing a high-rise scaffolding, all necessary safety measures outlined by the government should be rigidly adhered to. High-rise scaffolding is more vulnerable to weather damage and falls, so it’s important to follow the guidelines to keep your construction workers safe. You can read the government guides on constructing scaffolding here.
Who should inspect scaffolding?
A qualified professional experienced in scaffolding and construction site inspection should carry out routine inspections before and after the construction of any scaffolding. These checks can be carried out by a qualified site manager, but cannot be carried out by someone without prior experience in scaffolding inspection. The inspection will not be considered valid if the individual carrying out the inspection is unqualified.
According to the Government guidelines:
“All scaffolding inspection should be carried out by a competent person whose combination of knowledge, training, and experience is appropriate for the type and complexity of the scaffold he is inspecting.”
FAQS: Scaffolding Inspection
Is scaffolding a legal requirement?
While scaffolding is not technically a legal requirement, you could be liable for damages should you choose to undergo construction work without it – when working at height, workers are susceptible to injury and falls, both of which are normally avoided by having the protection of scaffolding. The safety of your workers should always be one of the most important factors to take into consideration when embarking upon construction work.
At what height is scaffolding required?
Scaffolding should be required when workers are working around 4 feet (around 122cm) above a lower level.
What can damage scaffolding?
Adverse weather conditions, such as heavy winds, can damage scaffolding, while rain can render walking boards slippery and unsafe.