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Scaffolding Safety Requirements UK

Scaffolding, like all areas of construction in the UK, must adhere to specific safety requirements and regulations. This is particularly important as work is conducted at height and often near other occupied buildings, residential housing and public pathways.

As a result, it’s important that people, materials and equipment all comply with safety requirements to help ensure the safety of workers, the environment and people in the vicinity. Read our simple guide below to find out more about scaffolding safety requirements in the UK.

“Disclaimer: Whilst our information is gathered from reputable sources at the time of writing, Scaffoldingcosts.co.uk does not set scaffolding regulations or safety requirements and is not responsible nor liable for any actions taken by those who read this article. This article is an overview of existing regulations and should not be considered advice nor should its contents be acted upon. There may be other regulations you’ll need to adhere to depending on the purpose of your scaffolding. Readers are advised to seek information from the government concerning regulations and safety requirements.”

When undertaking a scaffolding job, the process can be divided into four sections, planning, erecting, using and dismantling. We understand that sometimes rules and regulations can wash over our heads so we thought we’d provide you with a handy checklist:

Why Are There So Many Scaffolding Safety Requirements?

First things first, why are there so many safety requirements for a scaffolding project? The easy answer is that the purpose of scaffolding safety requirements is to prevent workers from acting irresponsibly just to get ‘the job done’ and harming themselves, others, or damaging the environment in which they work. These safety requirements are in place to help make sure scaffolding work is completed safely at height.

Who Sets The Safety Requirements?

There are various different bodies who regulate scaffolding safety requirements, but the main scaffolding safety bodies are:

  • HSE (Health and Safety Executive) – a public body for health and safety at work.
  • NASC (National Access and Scaffolding Confederation) – a trade body for UK scaffolding.
  • PASMA (Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association) – a trade/training body for mobile access towers.
  • CISRS (Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme) – a training body/provider of scaffolding qualifications.

Alongside these independent bodies are the UK and EU laws that set rules on construction work in the more general sense. These laws relate to aspects such as scaffold design, scaffold assembly, scaffold competency and scaffold inspection.

What Are The Main Safety Requirements I Need to Know? 

In 2005, the government introduced the legislation ‘Work at Height Regulations 2005’, which form a key portion of the regulations that impact those that complete work using scaffolding.  The legislation applies to all work at height when a risk of fall could result in serious injury.

The main aspects covered in the ‘Work at Height Regulations 2005’ are:

  • “Hierarchy of controls” is followed: all work at height should be organised and properly planned. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that all work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by the right people.
  • Height as a necessity: work at height should only be used if there is no other option. Doing as much work as you can from the ground is a priority.
  • Competent workers: the employer needs to ensure that all those working on the scaffolding site have received proper training or if not, are under the direct supervision of someone who has.
  • Risks are continuously assessed: whilst the project manager may outline the risks at the start of the job it is important that these risks are continuously assessed to prevent any injury.
  • Management of fragile surfaces: not all scaffolding work is the same, which means proper caution and attention should be paid when working near or on fragile surfaces.
  • Inspection and maintenance of equipment: scaffolding equipment needs to be inspected at the beginning of the project as well as throughout.

You can read the full legislation here.

Scaffolding Safety Requirement FAQs

  1. 1.   Is there a specific scaffold design I should follow for safety reasons?

Scaffold designs should conform to European Standards as set in BS EN 12811-1; this specifies general design standards. An easy way to check this for yourself is to see if the scaffolding is marked with an approved EN label.

  1.   How do I know when the scaffold set up to standard and safe to use?

The NASC provides great guidance in a document labelled SG4 “Preventing Falls in Scaffolding”; it lets you know how scaffolding can be assembled and dismantled safely. As for mobile scaffold towers, PASMA offers two techniques, one called Through the Trap (3T) and one called Advance Guard Rail (AGR). The 3T method involves using a platform trapdoor whilst adding an above level and the AGR method involves installing temporary guard rails from the level below.

  1.   What does it mean to be competent?

Being a competent scaffolder means receiving the appropriate training and knowing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. While trainees can work on a scaffolding site under the direct supervision of someone qualified, scaffold towers can only be erected by scaffolders who hold a certified PASMA or CISRS.

  1. How often should I inspect the scaffold?

Constant inspection of the scaffold is key to ensuring its safety measures are adhered to. Scaffold on any project should be inspected straight after assembly or before first use and every 7 days thereafter. In addition, it should also be inspected if there any circumstances that might have affected the rigidity of the structure e.g. strong winds.

Scaffolding safety requirements are paramount to preventing injury or harm to anyone in the workplace. Follow our guide to ensure you’re doing things the right way. 

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