A guide to the safe erection and dismantling of scaffolding
- Protection of the public
- Scaffolders working at height
- Stability of scaffolds
- Training, supervision and monitoring
Erecting and dismantling scaffolds remains a high-risk activity, not only to those carrying out the work, but to other workers and the general public.
The following guide sets out steps, which need to be considered by anyone involved with such work. It is aimed not only at those directly working in the scaffolding industry but also to clients, planning supervisors and principal contractors. Set out below are a number of key issues you will need to consider to ensure scaffolding operations are undertaken safely.
The law and planning for safety
- Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
- Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994
- Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
This guide is not designed to explain the above legislation in detail. However, it is important to remember that a wide range of people ranging from clients through to the self-employed have legal responsibilities. In simple terms the law requires that scaffolding operations are properly planned and that, carrying forward the results of the planning, to ensure the work is carried out safely on site.
When scaffolding operations are in progress the public must be excluded from both the area of work and a sufficient area around it. Steps to ensure this will include:
- Obtaining a temporary pavement or street closure whilst operations are carried out
- Undertaking operations in “quiet” hours i.e. early morning, at night or at weekends
- Incorporating fans, crash decks and “tunnels” as early as possible into a scaffold
- Erecting barriers and signs and diverting the public away from operations
- Storing scaffold clips and other loose materials safely on the scaffold
- Not raising or lowering materials over members of the public or other site workers.
Also consider that disabled persons need proper access along pavements covered by scaffolding.
Scaffolds must follow safe systems of work to prevent people falling. In particular:
- When lifting or lowering materials, scaffolders must be clipped on or working within a handing platform that is fully boarded, with double guard-rails and toe boards
- A minimum 3 board working platform together with a single guard-rail is provided as erection or dismantling works progress
- Safety harnesses to be worn a all times by scaffolders and fitted with a 1.75m length lanyard and a 55m opening scaffold hook or similar for one handed operation
- Harnesses should be clipped on to a secure anchorage point requires the following minimum conditions:
1. The scaffold must be tied in to a sound structure as work progresses:
2. Attachment can be made to a ledger, transom or guard-rail supported with load bearing couplers or a transom supported by ledgers in a lift above fixed at both ends by single couplers.
- At least one bay of a scaffold should remain boarded out as work progresses and this should be used for ladder access for scaffolders for the full height of the scaffold
- Safe ladder access for scaffolders should be incorporated as early as possible into the erection process
- Scaffolders should not be clambering up and down scaffolds without proper ladder access and safe working platforms provided on each lift being worked on.
Each year there are a number of scaffold collapses across the country. To make sure your scaffold does not collapse you should ensure that:
- The anchors specified to tie a scaffold to a structure are suitable for the base material and that they are installed correctly
- Scaffold anchors or ties are installed as erection work progresses. Conversely, they should not be removed too early during dismantling operations
- More ties will be needed on a sheeted or netted scaffold to ensure it’s stability
- Scaffolds are not overloaded with equipment, especially tube and fittings, during erections or dismantling operations.
Effective training of scaffolders is possibly the most essential factor in preventing accidents on site. In addition, do not forget the importance of monitoring the scaffolding contractor. Clients, principle contractors and others in control should take reasonable steps to ensure that any work being carried out on their site or premises is undertaken safely. Simple steps to take include:
- Checking the training levels of scaffolders and who will supervise them on site
- Site monitoring of scaffolders to ensure they follow proper safety standards