Scaffolding Health & Safety Rules and Regulations, what are they and what do you need to know?

The scaffolding industry is regulated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who have set out a number of regulations in collaboration with industry stakeholders, that must be adhered to when erecting, using, and dismantling scaffolding. It is the responsibility of all employers, workers, and those in control of any work at height to ensure their scaffolding is safe and meets the relevant regulations.

What are the Regulations for Working at Height?

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 legislation provides requirements for safely working at height. This includes a range of measures to reduce the risks, such as ensuring appropriate fall protection systems are in place, providing proper guarding to prevent falls, and providing suitable access and egress points. The HSE has produced this useful guide which is available to download

There regulations cover erecting, using, and dismantling scaffolding, ensuring that suitable access and guard rails are provided, as well as risk assessments being completed prior to any work commencing.

What are the Penalties for Breaking The Regulations?

The HSE has the power to issue penalties for those found to be in breach of the regulations, including fines or imprisonment. In addition, any individual found to be liable for a breach of the regulations can also face civil action from anyone affected by their actions. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all scaffolding is in compliance with the relevant regulations at all times.

Who are the NASC?

The National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) is an organisation dedicated to the engineering, safety, and standards of access and scaffolding within the UK. They are the leading industry association for members of the access and scaffolding sector, providing advice, guidance, support and representation. The NASC has published a number of technical documents that set out best practice guidelines for working with scaffolds.

NASC publications include a Product Code of Practice and a Safe Scaffolding Charter as well as TG20:21 preventing-falls-in-scaffolding-operations and SG4:22, preventing falls.

What are the TG20:21 and SG4:22 Scaffolding Regulations?

The TG20:21 and SG4:22 Regulations together make up a set of Technical guidelines for the construction of the scaffolding and the safe working practice for the operatives building the scaffold. These cover topics such as scaffold design, erection and inspection requirements, access and fall protection systems, material selection criteria, and other general safety guidance.

What are the Regulations for Inspections?

The regulations require that all scaffolding be regularly inspected by a suitably qualified competent person, who must have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to safely inspect scaffolding. The regulations also outline in detail what should be included in an inspection, including looking for any visible defects or hazards, making sure the scaffold is being used as intended, and ensuring that all components are properly secured and correctly assembled.

In addition, the regulations also set out a minimum frequency for inspections depending on the type of work being carried out. For example, daily inspections are required for scaffolding that is used in areas where there is a risk of falling objects or materials, while weekly inspections are sufficient for scaffolds used in areas that are not exposed to such risks.

The regulations also cover scaffold design, erection, and inspection requirements, access and fall protection systems, material selection criteria, and other general safety requirements. They also include advice on how to avoid common hazards associated with the use of scaffolding.

These include the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 which require that those responsible for designing or managing the scaffolding must understand the regulations and be competent to do so.

These also require that all users of scaffolding must be adequately trained in how to use it safely and that they must always follow the correct procedures. For example, when erecting a scaffold, workers must ensure that it is kept secure by tying it to adjacent structures or bolting it down where appropriate.

Key Requirements:

1. Scaffolding must be inspected prior to use and at regular intervals during its use. The inspection should include an assessment of the condition of the scaffolding, its parts, and its components.

2. All scaffolds must be erected in accordance with TG20:21 guidelines and all applicable safety routinely inspect and maintain the scaffolding.

3. All scaffolding must be securely anchored or tied off to a solid structure such as a building, wall, or column.

4. Scaffolding must bear the weight of workers, tools, materials, and other equipment used during construction operations.

5. Only trained personnel should install/dismantle scaffolding. Operatives should be provided with fall protection equipment while working on scaffolding.

6. Workers should be made aware of any potential hazards related to their work—such as overhead power lines, traffic, or slippery surfaces—and instructed on how to avoid them. This will be stated within the RAMS.

7. Scaffolds must be equipped with guardrails and toe boards to all working platform, this is to prevent falls from heights.

8. Operatives should use the correct access points provided to use the scaffold and should not move or climb scaffolding.

9. Stairs, ladders, walkways, handrails, and other forms of access must be provided when necessary to allow for safe access to the top of the scaffold.

10. Tools, materials, and equipment should never be thrown from one platform to another or dropped from a scaffold.

In summary, there is long established, comprehensive legislation and industry guidelines in place covering all aspects of scaffolding operations to ensure that work carried out at height is carried out as safely as possible. Failure to do so can be punished with fines or even imprisonment.