Protection of the Public in the Scaffold Industry

The general public will not be aware of the hazards associated with scaffolding activities making them more vulnerable to the possibility of injury; therefore adequate planning involving all parties is essential for the safe erection, use, alteration, maintenance and dismantling of scaffold structures in close proximity to the general public and others who may be affected by scaffolding operations.

The law says you must conduct your business without putting members of the public at risk. This includes the public and other workers who may be affected by your work.

1. WHERE INTERFACE WITH THE PUBLIC CAN OCCUR

Interface with the general public can occur in many different environments whilst carrying out scaffolding operations, including for example:

• On a public pavement or road;

• At a premises or location that is visited or accessed by the public;

• At schools and residential and care homes;

• At a domestic household for a private customer.

Every project will need to be risk assessed on its own merits and this document provides guidance on protecting the general public and others.

It is vitally important that, from the time of the initial scaffolding enquiry the scaffold contractor makes all parties aware of the hazards and risks as well as the control measures that will be required to ensure safe erection, use, alteration, maintenance and dismantling of the scaffold.

2. OVERVIEW OF TYPICAL HAZARDS, RISKS AND CONTROL MEASURES

The client, main contractor, designer, users (e.g. other contractors on site who will use the scaffold, such as bricklayers), scaffold contractor and other interested bodies (including the local authority where necessary) should consider the hazards, risks and control measures required for the works.

Typically, the main scaffolding hazards and risks involving the public are:

• Transport (risk of scaffolding vehicles injuring pedestrians);

• Work at height during scaffolding operations (with risk of falling scaffold tubes, boards and fittings);

• Work at height during building works (other trades working on the completed scaffold with risk of their materials falling e.g. bricks);

• Pedestrians (risk of personal injury walking into scaffolding structures).

• Falling objects – You must make sure objects cannot fall outside the site boundary. On scaffolds you can achieve this using toe-boards, brick guards and netting. You may also need fans and/or covered walkways.

• Delivery and other site vehicles – Make sure pedestrians cannot be struck by vehicles entering or leaving the site. Obstructing the pavement during deliveries may force pedestrians into the road, where they can be struck by other vehicles.

• Scaffolding and other access equipment – Prevent people outside the boundary being struck while they are erecting, dismantling and using scaffolding and other access equipment.

• Storing and stacking materials – You can reduce the risks associated with the storage of materials by storing materials within the site perimeter, preferably in secure compounds or away from the perimeter fencing.

• Openings and excavations – People can be injured if they fall into excavations, manholes, stairwells or from open floor edges. You’ll need to put up barriers or covers.

3. SCAFFOLD CONTRACTOR’S CONSIDERATIONS

It is the duty of the scaffold contractor to inform all parties of the hazards, risks and control measures required: 

• Decide in consultation whether a pavement licence will be required (which could be arranged by the client/main contractor or scaffold contractor);

• Following this consultation, the scaffold contractor will then be responsible for the safety of the public for works that it controls;

• The scaffold contractor should prepare a site-specific Risk Assessment/Method Statement (RAMS) for the project to ensure that all hazards and risks are identified and suitable control measures put in place (which must be subsequently briefed to all scaffold operatives prior to works commencing, with signed records retained);

• Please consult the NASC Guidance and Template, SG7 Risk Assessment & Method Statements for further guidance.

• When the scaffolding structure is being erected or dismantled it is essential that the scaffold contractor removes and secures all ground level ladders whenever scaffolds are left unattended. Once handed over to the client and the main contractor it is then their responsibility to manage the access to and from the scaffold structure.

References: https://nasc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/NASC_SG34-17.pdf

https://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/publicprotection.htm

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