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Is Leaving Scaffolding Safe at Christmas Time?

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Scaffolding

Twas’ the week before (The First Week of) Christmas, when all through the house. Not a Creature was stirring, not even a Scaffolding… Anyway, in the construction industry, everyone is very much looking forward to a well-earned break after a far more buoyant period than the previous 6 years. Consequently, there are likely to be far more scaffolds standing over the Christmas period so it is crucial to consider how they can be protected and secured. 

RG Scaffolding – Scaffold Hire & Scaffolding Contractors in Solihull, Birmingham ensure scaffolds do not deteriorate in the time between the last inspection and the first inspection after the Christmas break it is important that they are left in good condition.  It may be necessary to secure all boards or temporarily remove any other items that could become detached by, for example, high winds. Access to standing scaffolds should be prevented by physical means (i.e. removal of ladders or locking of stair towers etc) and warning signs should be posted, advising that the scaffold is unsafe for use.

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The inspection requirements of the Work at height Regulations 2005 are well known, but the requirements of Regulation 28 of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 are not so well known.  This states, “All practicable steps shall be taken, where necessary to prevent danger to any person, to ensure that any new or existing structure or any part of such structure which may become unstable or in a temporary state of weakness or instability due to the carrying out of construction work does not collapse.”

With this in mind, it is important to note, that if any event occurs which could cause deterioration of the scaffold, the recent UK wet weather is a good example, then inspection may well be required and it may be necessary to re-open a closed site to check the integrity of the scaffold.

Health and Safety Scaffolding Breaches

A number of recent cases have led to heavy fines for individuals and businesses not adhering to regulations. A Bimingham scaffolding company has been fined for safety failings that exposed workers to serious risks of injury from a fall.

At the time, a scaffolder was seen standing on a platform only two boards wide at a height of approximately four metres. There were no guard rails in place or any other means to prevent a fall, such as the use of a harness. The court heard that it wasn’t the first time that HSE had been forced to take action against the company for unsafe work at height.

The company had previously received written warnings from HSE. The first occasion in January 2018 resulted in a Prohibition Notice being issued and the second occasion in September 2019 resulted in the company receiving a Notice of Contravention. Both instances concerned unsafe systems of work relating to the erection and dismantling of scaffolding.

RG Scaffolding owner, Ricki has said: “While it is fortunate that no-one was injured during the work in Old Station Road, the erection and dismantling of the scaffold was clearly unsafe, and those working on the scaffolding were exposed unnecessarily to high levels of risk. Death and serious injury following falls from height are all too common, and proper planning is vital to ensure the work is carried out safely and that the correct precautions are identified and used at all times.”

Sadly, in another recent case involving a different company the workers weren’t so fortunate and there was a fatality when a worker fell seven metres to his death during construction of a new warehouse.

A developer, scaffolding company, its director and a roofer were all fined following the death of the worker who was standing on the edge of the roof when he slipped and fell through a gap of more than 50 centimetres between two scaffolding rails erected to form temporary edge protection.

The company’s director, who had no formal qualifications as a scaffolder, had overall control of the design, planning and construction of the edge protection and personally signed it off as being safe.

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