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SCAFFOLDING REGULATORY SYSTEM FAILS TO PROTECT

Trade body publishes new criteria for scaffolding erected close to the public

The National Access & Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) has criticised the wide variation in the criteria adopted by Local Authorities regarding scaffolds erected close to the general public.

The lack of consistency is reflected in is the “sight of rogue scaffolders building unsafe scaffolds close to the general public”. NASC points out that all these scaffolds need a pavement licence to be issued from the local or public authority when built from a pavement or street.

Survey revealed low standard

A survey by NASC looked at the criteria a scaffold contractor was expected to comply with in order to erect a scaffold close to the general public. 

The lowest standard required nothing more than evidence that the scaffolding company held insurance with no requirement to demonstrate competence. In addition, standards failed to require protection of the public during erection or dismantling.

Most of 50 plus permit criteria received from around the country failed to meet legal requirements under HSW Act 1974, Working At Height Regulations 2005 and the CDM Regulations 2007.

New ‘step change’ criteria published

NASC has now published detailed criteria and guidance to address this situation. The aim is to “provide any authority in the UK with the ability to demand a consistent standard for scaffolding companies to comply with industry best practice and legal requirements”.

The document is described as a significant ‘step change’ from the previous criteria “needed to help keep our streets safe”. Developed in consultation with HSE the Highways Authority and others the document comprises 11 pages of criteria and governance that a scaffolding contractor and main contractor must work to before a licence can be granted.

The criteria includes: Risk Assessments; Scaffold designs; Scaffolder competence; Double boarding with membranes on pedestrian gantries; Scaffold Protection fans; Protection for public and vehicles; Improved signage; Lighting; Main Contractor details; Scaffold Inspection; and Scaffolding competence requirements. These new criteria have been circulated to all authorities in the UK.

 NASC President Bob Whincap said:

“It is not unusual to hear of scaffold collapses on our public highways. Any member of the public is potentially at risk every time they step onto a pavement where a scaffold is built. NASC recommend the public apply pressure on their local authority to adopt these new criteria as soon as possible.”

Initial reaction to the new criteria has been welcomed by a number of authorities who openly recognise that the standard of scaffolding needs to be improved.

Raymond Pierson, (Transport for London) is solely responsible for the quality management system for roads including policy setting said:

“TfL will be adopting the NASC’s full guidelines and applauds their ‘fight’ for a universal improvement into the tightening of conditions for scaffolding contractors.”

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