What to Consider When Selecting A Scaffolding Contractor

May 20, 2021 2:42 pm Published by

Selecting the right scaffolding contractor can make a real difference to timescales, project cost, and overall safety. It pays to get it right, but what should you be looking for? Here is a guide to what sets apart a good contractor from a potential health and safety disaster.

Arrangement of Scaffolding

The arrangement of scaffolding that you need depends on the project requirements.  Maximum working loads and netting requirements are some features that should be considered. Always ensure that your scaffolding contractor can follow the necessary specifications. 

Accreditations

Is your proposed Contractor a member of the NASC or an audited member of Scaffolding Association?  Accreditation may not be a legal requirement; it is an indication of a responsible scaffolding company.

Main accreditations are UKAS/ISOQAR ISO 9001, 45001, and a SSIP provided by a recognised provider such as Chas.

Common Assessment Standards developed by Build UK currently assessed by Achilles, CHAS and Construction Line is rapidly becoming the recognised standard required of contractors.

Is the contractor registered with Construction Line and to what level?

Legislation

There are several key pieces of legislation to consider. The most important are the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Responsible companies also comply with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM).  It should be noted that CDM puts ultimate responsibility for safety with the organisation commissioning the construction work, so it is vital competent contractors are employed throughout the supply chain.

BS EN 12811 and BS EN 13374: 2013 are important standards relevant to scaffolding.  

Current Standards

Is your contractor competent in the implementation of current standards? –

Technical Guidance.

TG20:21 is the latest scaffolding guidance, developed to ensure that scaffolding constructed from Tube and Fittings is configured to a standard that complies to the design requirements specified by BS EN 12811.

Codes of Practice

BS 5975:2008:  Code of Practice for temporary works procedures and the permissible stress design of falsework.   Scaffolding is defined as Temporary works and must be installed to the same safety standards as the permanent works.

Further Guidance.

Does your contractor have access to the comprehensive list of Safety and Technical Guidance notes that are available from the NASC?  Compliance to the guidance notes would be recognised as compliance to current standards and legislation.

 Budget

The saving achieved, selecting a contractor based on cost may prove insignificant if an accident is suffered.  Budgets are important in any project, and scaffolding costs need to be calculated carefully.  The HSE will prosecute and issue heavy fines in the event of scaffolding mishaps, and jail sentences have been handed out after site deaths, so responsible contractors will always invest heavily in quality, training, and time. 

Stock

All scaffolding equipment used in scaffolding should be to the relevant British and EN standard, is the contractor’s equipment sufficiently maintained and to current standards.

Is the company able to supply equipment that may help with the efficiency and enhance the safety of the project?  System scaffolding can reduce manual handling and be installed more efficiently.  Proprietary system transoms enable easier adjustment and adaption to the building.  In refurbishment projects proprietary Temporary Roofing systems can be built in a safe and efficient manner when compared to traditional construction.

Safety

Scaffolding accidents are mercifully rare, but when they happen, they can be serious. As such, safety must be a top priority.  Areas to look out for include the provision by the contractor of:

Job and task specific Risk assessments and method statements for the project.

Inspection records of PPE, harnesses and fall restraint equipment.   

Regular Toolbox Talks.  HAV and Tie pull Test Records.

Most scaffolding accidents happen during construction and dismantling, so for more complex jobs, expect a Phasing Plan that outlines the methods the contractor intends to use. This plan should include considerations such as how to evacuate in an emergency, and how to perform a rescue.

Training

Erecting, altering, and dismantling scaffolding requires both practical and theoretical training. As such, contractors need to employ either SSSTS or SMTS qualified supervisors as part of their on-going training plan, as well as an advanced scaffolder with the skills to oversee the design structure. All scaffolders involved in the project should hold a valid CISRS card, which can be verified at the start of the project.

Training to satisfy NASC SG04:15 fall protection should have been implemented.

Insurance

Workplace accidents can leave employers with a hefty bill, so always check the type of insurance that your contractor is covered by. Policies are often riddled with exclusions and restrictions, such as the height of the scaffolding or the environment. For instance, marine and demolition projects require specialised insurance. A responsible contractor will never quote for work that they are not covered to perform.

Knowledge and Experience

Contractors tend to have specialised areas of experience. If your project is a new build, a listed building, or a building with unusual dimensions, it saves time and money to work with a company that understands the mechanics and legislation relating to those sites. Experienced contractors will also be able to construct scaffolding with greater efficiency and confidence, reducing the time required for construction and dismantling.

Find Out More

The selection of a safe and efficient scaffolding contractor will bring significant benefits for your project, so its worthwhile speaking to Magnum Scaffolding to ensure you are getting the best solution.  Get in touch to find out more, or to request a quote.

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This post was written by Magnum Scaffolding