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This is our last news update of the year and we would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
As we head into winter, the cold temperatures predicted have thankfully so far eluded us, but heavy rain and strong winds are, worryingly, becoming commonplace. Only last weekend, outside a North Staffordshire convenience store, a 40 metre stretch of scaffolding blew down, landing on six parked cars. Amazingly and luckily, nobody was hurt. And this week, a scaffolding company was fined after scaffolding they were dismantling blew over and hit a bus and pedestrians. Investigation by the HSE found that the scaffolding was not tied to the building, and sheeting was left in place. We open this week’s update with HSE guidance intended to clarify when a scaffold design is required and what level of training and competence those erecting, dismantling, altering, inspecting and supervising scaffolding operations are expected to have.
Staying with construction, we also share HSE guidance on controlling the risks of serious skin problems such as dermatitis and burns which can arise from using cement based products, like concrete or mortar. This is after a construction firm was fined £14,000 plus £1590 costs when a 54-year-old employee suffered severe cement burns to his knees while laying concrete flooring.
Finally, with the increasing popularity of charcoal and wood-fired ovens, the uptake of solid fuel appliances in restaurant kitchens has been rapid. But the Health Protection Agency has warned that wood burning stoves “can cause lethal carbon monoxide poisoning”. So the HSE have published a new catering information sheet which we share this week, aimed specifically at employers who use solid fuel appliances such as tandoori ovens, charcoal grills and wood-fired pizza ovens in commercial kitchens.
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A scaffolding company has been fined a total of £8,000 plus £2,000 costs after scaffolding hit a bus and pedestrians when it blew over during dismantling.
Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard how in January 2015 the company was dismantling scaffolding on a city centre street when the incident occurred. The scaffolding hit a bus, landed on a parked van and hit two members of the public.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident, found that the company was not following a safe system of work. The scaffolding was not tied to the building and sheeting was left in place. The scaffolding dismantling took place over four days and the workers failed to check the scaffolding condition before they started or to take adequate measures to correct defects and ensure it would not collapse during the dismantling.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Martin Giles said: “Scaffolding needs to be tied to a building and dismantling needs to be properly planned and carried out in a safe manner.”
This guide is intended to clarify when a scaffold design is required and what level of training and competence those erecting, dismantling, altering, inspecting and supervising scaffolding operations are expected to have.
It is a requirement of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 that unless a scaffold is assembled to a generally recognised standard configuration, eg NASC Technical Guidance TG20 for tube and fitting scaffolds or similar guidance from manufacturers of system scaffolds, the scaffold should be designed by bespoke calculation, by a competent person, to ensure it will have adequate strength, rigidity and stability while it is erected, used and dismantled.
At the start of the planning process, the user should supply relevant information to the scaffold contractor to ensure an accurate and proper design process is followed. Typically this information should include:
- site location
- period of time the scaffold is required to be in place
- intended use
- height and length and any critical dimensions which may affect the scaffold
- number of boarded lifts
- maximum working loads to be imposed and maximum number of people using the scaffold at any one time
- type of access onto the scaffold eg staircase, ladder bay, external ladders
- whether there is a requirement for sheeting, netting or brickguards
- any specific requirements or provisions eg pedestrian walkway, restriction on tie locations, inclusion/provision for mechanical handling plant eg hoist)
- nature of the ground conditions or supporting structure
- information on the structure/building the scaffold will be erected against together with any relevant dimensions and drawings
- any restrictions that may affect the erection, alteration or dismantling process
Prior to installation, the scaffold contractor or scaffold designer can then provide relevant information about the scaffold. This should include:
- type of scaffold required (tube & fitting or system)
- maximum bay lengths
- maximum lift heights
- platform boarding arrangement (ie 5 + 2) and the number of boarded lifts that can be used at any one time
- safe working load / load class
- maximum leg loads
- maximum tie spacing both horizontal and vertical and tie duty
- details of additional elements such as beamed bridges, fans, loading bays etc, which may be a standard configuration (see note 1 ref TG20:13) or specifically designed
- information can be included in relevant drawings if appropriate
- any other information relevant to the design, installation or use of the scaffold
- reference number, date etc. to enable recording, referencing and checking
All scaffolding must be erected, dismantled and altered in a safe manner. This is achieved by following the guidance provided by the NASC in document SG4 ‘Preventing falls in scaffolding’ for tube and fitting scaffolds or by following similar guidance provided by the manufacturers of system scaffolding.
For scaffolds that fall outside the scope of a generally recognised standard configuration the design must be such that safe erection and dismantling techniques can also be employed throughout the duration of the works. To ensure stability for more complex scaffolds, drawings should be produced and, where necessary, these may need to be supplemented with specific instructions.
Any proposed modification or alteration that takes a scaffold outside the scope