If you ask whether you legally require scaffolding for a given job, you’ll get half a dozen self-styled experts each giving you a different answer. The regulations aren’t always precise, but understanding them will give you a firm guideline to what’s needed.
When Is Scaffolding Required?
The short answer to the question of when scaffolding is needed is when a thorough risk assessment concludes that it’s necessary. A risk assessment must by law be carried out on any job where any employees are working at height. It’s not a legal requirement when an individual is doing the work privately, but it’s common sense to take safety seriously.
Employees working at height (which isn’t clearly defined) must by law be safeguarded. For low-risk jobs, such as minor roof repairs to a domestic house, it might be considered safe to use a ladder, however we would always recommend utilising scaffolding or a working platform for Health and Safety reasons to increase stability and reduce the risk of accidents occurring. If you are planning to be working at height for a long period or moving about at height, then this is when it is imperative that you use a safer working platform such as an appropriately designed scaffolding system.
Why Is Scaffolding Necessary
Even when the law doesn’t specify it, there are numerous reasons why scaffolding is important. Anyone working at height for extended periods, especially in wet or windy weather, could be at risk of falling. Having a stable platform on a secure framework will reduce the risk to acceptable levels. Scaffolding also makes it easier to move around the building without having to constantly climb up and down.
In addition, scaffolding provides an easier means to tether tools and prevent a possible tragedy, since even a small tool falling from height could kill someone below. Besides common humanity, the safety aspect is a legal obligation for the person responsible for the site’s safety — often the contractor, but a business such as a property developer or landlord may have responsibility for work being done.
Properties That Can Use Scaffolding
Any building that’s being built, demolished or substantially repaired is likely to require scaffolding. The size doesn’t matter, nor whether it’s commercial, domestic or public.
A multi-storey office block being demolished will have scaffolding that’s dismantled from the top downwards as the building gets lower. If and when the promised repairs to Parliament get started, we’ll see the Palace of Westminster swathed in scaffolding. On the other hand, you might also need it for substantial work on the roof of your home.
The right scaffolding is available for all of these requirements. If you have any questions about scaffolding, feel free to get in touch with us.