If you want to erect a scaffolding or hoarding on a public highway you require a licence. You must apply for this a minimum of 7 days prior to erection. As this operation is normally associated with some or other form of building work we have become the Council service that evaluate the safety precautions necessary for its erection. We also consult other departments and services to ensure that the erection of a scaffold or hoarding will not affect other activities such as, highway or public utilities maintenance. We will inspect the scaffold or hoarding after it is erected to ensure it complies with the conditions of the licence.
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 law and planning for safety
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 then, carrying forward the results of the planning, to ensure the work is carried out safely on site.
A licence from us is required before a scaffold can be erected on a public highway. An additional licence is usually needed if you plan to install a protective fan. A licence may set down standards on such matters as lighting or painting the scaffold or for a fan it may restrict the height at which it is set. For further advice you should contact the highway authority.
Protection of the public
When scaffolding operations are in progress the public must be excluded from both the area of work and a sufficient area around it. You can:
- Obtain a temporary pavement or street closure whilst operations are carried out;
- Undertake operations in "quiet" hours i.e. early morning, at night or at weekends;
- Incorporate fans, crash decks and "tunnels" as early as possible into a scaffold;
- Erect barriers and signs and divert the public away from operations;
- Store scaffold clips and other loose materials safely on the scaffold; and
- Not raise or lower materials over members of the public or other site workers.
Also consider that disabled persons need proper access along pavements covered by scaffolding.
Scaffolders working at height
Scaffolders 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 handling 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 at all times by scaffolders and fitted with a 1.75m length lanyard and a 55mm opening scaffold hook or similar for one handed operation;
- Harnesses should 'be clipped on to a secure anchorage point where falls of 4 metres or more are possible. A secure anchorage point requires the following minimum conditions:-
- The scaffold must be tied in to a sound structure as work progresses.
- 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 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.
Stability of scaffolds
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; and
- Scaffolds are not overloaded with equipment, especially tube and fittings, during erection or dismantling operations.
Training, supervision and monitoring
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, principal 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, and
- Site monitoring of scaffolders to ensure they follow proper safety standards
References and further information:
Health and Safety in Construction HSG150 HSE Books -Tel: 01787-881165
Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
Protecting the public; Your next move HSG151 HSE Books
National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) guide SG4:00: The use of fall arrest equipment whilst erecting, altering & dismantling scaffolding". Construction Industry Publications -Tel: 0121-722-8200 (Available May 2000)
HSE Guide to the Safe Erection and Dismantling of Scaffolding
BS 5973: 1993 Code of practice for access and working scaffolds and special scaffold structures in steel. BSI publication -Tel: 0208996-9001
Health and Safety Executive