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UK Scaffolding Regulations

UK scaffolding regulations boil down to one thing, safety. There are many rules and regulations in place to prevent injury from fall. So we thought we’d provide you with a handy checklist so that you never put a foot wrong.

“Disclaimer: Whilst our information is gathered from reputable sources at the time of writing, Scaffoldingcosts.co.uk does not set scaffolding regulations and is not responsible nor liable for any actions of those following this advice. 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 / rules to adhere to. Resource: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/scaffoldinginfo.htm.

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:

Scaffolding Planning Regulations

The start of the planning process will involve a lot of work but this is the typical information that needs to be provided to the scaffold contractor so they can ensure a good and safe design:

  • Site location
  • Information on the building structure that the scaffold will be used on
  • Length (of time) project
  • Purpose of the scaffold
  • Special requirements
  • Type of access onto the scaffold
  • Number of boarded lifts
  • Maximum number of people/maximum load
  • Nature of the ground conditions
  • Foreseeable restrictions

Once the user has provided the key information points for the contractor they can then get to work with providing the user with more information regarding the specific design of the scaffold and the resulting regulations they will need to adhere to. This will include:

  • Type of scaffold
  • Maximum bay lengths
  • Maximum lift heights
  • Maximum leg loads
  • Platform boarding arrangement
  • Safe working load
  • Details of special requirements/additional elements
  • Reference number, date etc. so that all changes and risks can be recorded

The regulations set down by UK law in the “Work at Height Regulations 2005” states that unless the scaffold is prepared to a recognised standard configuration then it should be designed by bespoke calculation and a competent person to ensure that it’s strong to assemble, stable during use and safe to dismantle. This recognised standard may be NASC (see below) or TG20 for specific types of scaffolding.

So whilst the regulations set guidelines for the specific design of scaffolding there is some leeway when it comes to specific design. In the early stages of planning make sure you follow our checklist so that you don’t miss anything out.

UK Scaffolding Regulatory Bodies

Before erecting any scaffolding structure it is important to be aware of the different bodies who regulate safety requirements: HSE (Health and Safety Executive), NASC (National Access and Scaffolding Confederation), PASMA (Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association) and CISRS (Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme).

Some of these bodies are the suppliers of scaffolding certifications to ensure that someone is properly trained before engaging in scaffolding work such as the CISRS. It is important that anyone who erects scaffolding is competent and holds qualifications from CISRS or PASMA. If a trainee is on the site then the employer is responsible for ensuring they are under direct supervision.

Whether these bodies provide training or simply information, they all focus on one thing, safety. Before erecting any scaffolding structure it is important to recognise the NASC’s document SG4 ‘Preventing Falls in Scaffolding’. Working at height should always be organised accordingly, conducted by someone competent and continuously risk assessed. If it is mobile scaffold towers you are working on then PASMA has two methods that a scaffolder should follow: Through the Trap (3T) and Advance Guard Rail (AGR).

Regulations and Restrictions During Use

It’s easy to think that scaffolding regulations only apply to the set up of a scaffolding structure but it is equally as important to follow safety guidelines throughout the whole project, from start to finish. Following installation and erection the scaffolding should be inspected. After that, it should be inspected at an interval of no more than every 7 days.

The structure should also be inspected if it has come into contact with anything that might have threatened the rigidity of the scaffold e.g. high winds. The inspection report should then note down any defects or things that are high risk even if they have been fixed immediately; this is so that any recurring problems can be quickly identified.

Regulations When Dismantling

Dismantling any scaffold structure should be taken seriously and administered by someone who is competent. Competence of a worker can be assessed under CISRS or PASMA but there are exceptions when an individual has undergone sufficient training.

If an individual has received training in inspecting a specific type of system scaffold from a manufacturer or supplier then this can negate the need for a formal qualification from CISRS or PASMA. What’s more, is that even a non-scaffolder may be appropriate if they have attended a scaffold inspection course; this would apply to those such as site managers.

UK scaffold regulations may seem laborious at times but as long as you adhere to them in a safe environment then you should be able to get to work swiftly and efficiently. Remember to plan accordingly, erect safely, risk-assess consistently and dismantle carefully.

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