All work at height should besubject to a risk assessment by the employer or self-employed contractor. Thisis to ensure that the work can be carried out safely and adequate precautionsare taken to prevent the risk of falls. In many cases, the use of scaffoldingwill be deemed necessary and appropriate.
Working with scaffolding can bedangerous if the structure is not properly erected, inspected and dismantled.Therefore, regular safety inspections are vital to ensure that the scaffoldingis in good working order and fit for purpose.
Who is considered competent to carry out scaffolding inspections?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states thatall scaffolding related work must be carried out by competent people. The bestway to know if a scaffolding company meets this criteria is to check if theyare a member of the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC).
NASC is the trade body thatproduces industry-recognised safety and technical guidance. They issue memberswith a Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) Card, which isan accepted way of checking whether the scaffolding company is competent and upto date with the latest training and safety standards.
The scaffolding must be inspectedby a competent person with the relevant training, knowledge, and experience.This may be a person who has gained qualifications from the CISRS, or who hasundergone specific training from the manufacturer of the scaffolding.
The inspector's experience orqualifications should be appropriate for the type and complexity of thescaffolding concerned. According to the HSE, the scaffolding must be inspected:
● Beforeit is first used
● Atintervals of seven days until it is dismantled
● Afterany incidents that could compromise the safety of the scaffolding, such as highwinds
● Afterany additions or alterations have been made to the scaffolding that couldadversely affect its safety
This is a legal requirement asstated in the Working at Height Regulations 2005.
What will be checked during the scaffolding inspection?
The purpose of the inspection is toidentify any weaknesses or defects in the structure that could impact on itsintegrity or put workers at risk. The HSE outlines in detail all the standardsthat the scaffolding must comply with.
These include checking that thescaffolding is erected on a firm level foundation that is capable of supportingthe weight of the scaffold and the loads that will be placed on it. TheScaffolding must be braced or tied to a permanent structure, or adequatelysupported by other means.
The scaffolding should have fullyboarded platforms that are wide enough to allow the work to be carried out andnot excessively overhanging. The guard rails should be in place to preventworkers or objects falling from the scaffold, and should be strong and stableenough for the purpose.
The inspector should consider anyconditions, such as extreme weather, that could have caused any damage orotherwise interfered with the strength and rigidity of the scaffold.
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