Dec 19, 2023
Read time : 10 mins
The UK has a number of regulations regarding working at height and overall construction worker health and safety. One of these regulations is the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation’s (NASC) Safety Guidance. This regulation standardises the construction and dismantling of scaffolds and also provides a framework for scaffold inspection.
Whether you are a construction worker, supervisor, or manager, you must comply with these health and safety guidelines to ensure a productive and safe construction site.
According to the HSE scaffold inspection requirements, scaffold inspection should be carried out by users in the following circumstances:
Following the installation
Before first use
At an interval of 7 days
Following any circumstances that can compromise the safety of the scaffolding, i.e., high winds, heavy rain, etc.
All scaffolding should be inspected by a competent person whose skills and qualifications are appropriate for this job.
The Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) assesses the scaffold inspector’s competence. The inspector must have received training from a manufacturer in inspecting different types of scaffolding systems.
A professional inspector ensures that the scaffolding is safe and well-built to reduce the chances of accidents. A site supervisor who has undergone scaffolding inspection training can also inspect a basic structure.
First, you must become a scaffolder to carry out scaffolding inspections. To become a scaffolder, you must have at least 2 to 3 GSCEs, including Math and English, or an equivalent certification like a Level 2 NVQ.
With these qualifications, you can start an 11-week apprenticeship, which can be completed over a period of two years. After that, you can apply for a CSCS Green Card.
Adequate safeguards to prevent contact with overhead power lines.
Scaffolds are erected on solid foundations with sole boards used where required.
Vehicular protection is in place where required.
Ladder access with edge protection or a hatch provided to the void.
Ties are installed and connected to two standards; tie anchors are suitable.
Adequate face bracing (zigzag).
Installation of handrails, mid-rails, toe boards/brick guards.
Lashed or secured lapboards.
The working deck is clear of materials and debris (minimum safe access 450mm wide).
Complete working decks without missing ledgers, planks, toe boards/kickboards, or hop-ups.
Gaps between scaffold platforms and building edge/face 225mm (horizontal) or less.
Gaps between hop-ups/decks and building floor 300mm (vertical) or less.
Tie bars were installed on each hop-up to prevent movement or plank dislodgment.
Fully planked decks every 2-3 meters (2 meters preferred).
Safe access to each working deck.
Combined loads of materials and persons do not exceed the scaffold’s working load.
Containment sheeting/netting was installed, and windloading was considered in the design.
Containment netting with a flammability index of less than 25.
30-day inspection scheduled with a written record obtained.
Address safety issues immediately after inspection, restricting access to unsafe sections.
The written record was obtained for each inspection.
The scaffold is secured from unauthorised access when not in use, or the site is closed.
Ensure the work area is clear of floor penetrations, electric leads, and other slip or fall hazards.
Verify that the supporting surface is either hard and flat or that boards/channels are utilised on unstable surfaces, such as dirt, uneven ground, muddy, or sloping surfaces.
Confirm that bracing is set up correctly and a plan brace is included at the base of the scaffold.
Check that castor wheel locks are functional and they are properly engaged when in use.
Inspect if handrails, mid-rails, and kickplates are present on all mobile scaffolds over 2m in height.
Ensure internal ladder access is provided and securely positioned.
Verify that the working deck is intact with no split decks.
Scaffold handover certificates are certificates that a scaffolding contractor hands over to firms and organisations that are going to use them on construction projects and sites. The completion of the handover indicates that the scaffold is safe for use at construction sites.
Although scaffold certificates aren’t a legal requirement, it’s common practice among scaffold contractors and construction firms to exchange them for administrative health and safety purposes.
Tagging a safe scaffold isn’t a legal requirement but is the best practice nonetheless. However, if a scaffold is unsafe or not fit for use at any construction site, you must tag the scaffold as unsafe per the 1996 Health and Safety Regulations.
What is the UK standard for scaffolding?
BS 1139 is the UK standard for scaffolding. Scaffolding installation companies apply the parameters specified by this standard to scaffolds of various sizes and properties.
How long can a scaffolding stay up in the UK?
Scaffoldings in the UK can be left standing for as long as the project requires. However, concerned individuals should provide a reasonable explanation for leaving scaffolds standing.
What is the maximum gap allowed on a scaffold?
The gap should be between 150mm and 300mm for maintenance work. However, if you are doing major installation of structures, the gap should be between 150mm and 600mm.
Scaffold inspection is a huge responsibility that should be carried out by a competent, skilled, and qualified individual in accordance with the HSE scaffold inspection requirements. With a scaffold inspection checklist, a scaffold inspector can keep workers safe.
Moreover, organisations need to ask for scaffold handover checklists from scaffold manufacturers and inspect the scaffold to ensure there are no damages. Also, scaffold inspectors must tag faulty and unsafe scaffolds so they aren’t used for construction purposes.
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