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Competence and Supervision

Competence and Supervision

Posted: Wednesday 20 March 2019


Working at height has always been one of the most dangerous activities on any building site. Despite the great strides taken to make this job safer for workers and the public, working at height is still the leading cause of injury and death in construction.

Working on a scaffold, often several storeys up, needs to be done with great care and attention to details. That’s why scaffolding teams are made up of experts with experience in assembling and working with all types of scaffolding. In this post, we take a look at scaffolding operatives and how work is monitored.

Determining competence

One of HSE’s regulations stipulates that workers should be ‘competent’ for working at height, whether it’s on a ladder or several storeys up:

“In the case of low-risk, short duration tasks involving ladders, competence requirements may be no more than making sure employees receive instruction on how to use the equipment safely (eg how to tie a ladder properly) and appropriate training. Training often takes place on the job, it does not always take place in a classroom. When a more technical level of competence is required, for example drawing up a plan for assembling a complex scaffold, existing training and certification schemes drawn up by trade associations and industry is one way to help demonstrate competence.”

If a scaffold is being used, everyone who carries out work should be aware of best practices. There are classes held all over the country that your workers can attend, teaching them about harnesses and other vital extra equipment.

Assembly

Working at height is often only possible using a high-quality scaffold, built to exacting specifications. Building a scaffold requires a high level of skill and experience, something gained over years in the industry. It all begins by deciding what kind of scaffolding is actually necessary in the first place. If you use the wrong solution to your needs your workers may find it slows down the project significantly.

Another important part of scaffold work is the inspections. Once assembled, a scaffold will need to be inspected, and then inspected once a week for the duration of the project. These inspections are vital due to a variety of circumstances outside of your control.

One of the the major issues is the weather. Even short bouts of harsh weather can cause all sorts of problems for scaffolding; wind and rain have the potential to make your scaffold less safe.

Finally there’s the challenge of making sure your scaffold is safe for the public. This might include proper access control precautions, preventing any adventurous people from climbing up the scaffold outside work hours. It’s also imperative that the public are warned - and protected - from any falling objects like tools or debris.

If you want to learn more about how to protect your team when they’re working at height, or have questions about the regulations you’re required to follow, get in touch today. Our expert team will be able to explain things in detail.

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When extra equipment is required

When extra equipment is required

Posted: Friday 15 March 2019


Working at height can mean a number of activities, depending on the project. Your construction team may be renovating the facade of an older building, painting a house or carrying out work on the interior of a large assembly hall. All of these projects will probably require a thoughtful scaffolding solution, but there may be more to it. In this post, we take a look at the preparations that need to be made if you need to use other equipment when working at height on scaffolding.

Scaffolding type

Before work ever begins, you’ll need to determine what kind of scaffolding is required for the job. If you are working indoors in a large area like an assembly or performance hall, you may need suspended scaffolding or you might be able to get away with a tower. However, you also need to take into account what the project actually is. If it’s a heavy duty remodel, your workers may need power tools or other large equipment. In this case, you need to think about how you’re going to get the equipment up to them. It may be that you have to rethink the type of scaffolding used completely.

The same general exercise applies to exterior works. If your team need to use heavy equipment at height, your scaffolding needs to be sturdy and strong enough to match. It may be that double scaffolding is necessary.

For lifting the equipment into place, you have two broad options: hoists, and transport platforms.

Doing the Heavy Lifting

In the event that you need to bring large amounts of material and equipment to your workers at height, you may need a separate scaffolding to manage the weight itself. But it’s a worthwhile effort - a transport platform can lift up to 2,000 kilos in a single trip. For a large scale project, this kind of power is hard to argue with. It can also be used to ferry your team up to where they need to be, saving them time and saving you labour costs, since they don’t have to waste time ascending and descending several storeys every day.

Space considerations

The particulars of your project may mean making some sacrifices and compromises over how fast the work can be carried out. If there isn’t room for a transport platform or a stronger type of scaffolding, you may need to settle for using a hoist to get your equipment to the right height. But these are delays worth making to ensure the safety of your workers and the quality of work they are able to carry out.

Like most scaffolding issues, the questions of how to get your equipment to where it needs to be and what type of scaffolding is necessary for the use of that equipment at height are best answered by a scaffolding professional. Our team of experts will identify a bespoke and appropriate scaffolding system that complements your project and enables your workers. Get in touch today to find out more, or take a look at some of our previous work in the projects section.

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Which type of scaffolding do you need?

Which type of scaffolding do you need?

Posted: Wednesday 6 March 2019


Working at height is a tricky business. In fact, it is so dangerous it is policed by several strict regulations to control where and how scaffolding is used.

But your project will go a lot more smoothly by using the right equipment for the job in question. There is no sense going through the trouble of setting up scaffolding only to discover that it is inappropriate for the project, at best this will make the scaffolding useless, at worst it might put workers at risk of injury. In this post, we run through a couple of typical projects and the scaffolding you need to match them.

Exterior renovation

It might be that all you need is a tower, or you may need a properly erected tubular scaffolding set up, with the help of an experienced professional. If your project is the exterior renovation of a typical two-storey residence, you probably only need a sturdy tower or two.

Contrary to popular belief, towers are strong and stable, allowing for work at height with little difficulty. They’re also much more versatile that traditional scaffolding as you can move them relatively easily to where you need to work.

If your project involves working on a larger or older building, you will likely need to invest in a single or double scaffold, assembled by an experienced professional. They will discuss your requirements with you before they begin drawing up plans for construction. This type of scaffolding is secured to the building in question through the use of putlogs and ledgers, and your construction team will do their jobs from working platforms.

Interior decoration

For decorating large halls, you could use a tower scaffold, particularly if it will be necessary to move it regularly to carry out the work. Another option is the use of suspended scaffolding. Using a system of pulleys, scaffolding is “suspended” and can be lowered or raised depending on your needs. This type is particularly useful in large rooms, like sports halls or school assembly halls - where the ceilings are high and otherwise unreachable.

Suspended scaffolding has the added bonus that it’s simple to restrict access, another plus point for using it in schools where children might be tempted to climb on a scaffold. The suspended scaffolding can be winched out of reach and then secured there.

Long term work

If your project is set to take a long time, your scaffolding expert may suggest tubular or steel scaffolding. SkelScaff explain the differences:

“It is also termed as tubular scaffolding due to the hollow nature of the steel metals used. Still tubes of 1.5-inch to 2.5-inch diameter are used instead of timber and bamboo planks. The metals are fastened using some special form of steel couples instead of rope lashing. The fastening mechanism here consists of prop nuts which hold individual pipes, bolts, nuts and washers as well as wedge and clips.”

As you can see, not all scaffolding is created equal. It’s best. To discuss your needs with a professional before making any decisions as to which type is right for you. If you’d like to learn more about the different type of scaffolding - or to receive a quote, talk to a member of our friendly team today.

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Fixing that facade

Fixing that facade

Posted: Monday 11 February 2019


Scaffolding is a key tool in the construction industry. It allows architects to draw more ambitious designs and bring a fantasy to life; it means working at height can be done safely and confidently. Although it’s used in all manner of building projects the world over, it’s also incredibly useful in smaller projects. This includes working on residential buildings, from cottages to four-storey townhouses.

Over time, outdoor conditions can be unkind to the exterior of our homes. Wind and rain lashing against walls and windows can eventually leave paint looking drab or dirty. More severe weather can whip roofing tiles off or even damage brickwork. When this happens, you may choose to bring in a professional to spruce up your exterior with fresh paint or perform minor repairs. However, this will often entail working at height. In this post, we take a look at how scaffolding can help you fix your façade.

Renovation

You should always choose the most appropriate equipment for the job. If you have a small cottage, it’s likely that a ladder (or even a step-ladder) would allow you to reach all of the areas you need to. This is probably the case if you’re just looking to add a new coat of paint or clean your windows. However, for anything taller than that you’d be better off investing in hiring some scaffolding. It will allow the job to get done that much faster, saving you labour costs and likely paying for itself.

It might be that you only need a smaller set of tower scaffolding, a way for your workmen to access the upper parts of your house without the need for a larger installation. They’re generally fairly mobile, and exceptionally sturdy thanks to smart engineering. HSE still requires certain regulations be observed, however:

“All towers must be inspected following assembly and then at suitable regular intervals by a competent person. In addition, if the tower is used for construction work and a person could fall 2 metres or more from the working platform, then it must be inspected following assembly and then every 7 days. Stop work if the inspection shows it is not safe to continue, and put right any faults.”

Rethink

If you’re in the market for a complete renovation, including a more drastic remodel of your façade, then you’ll probably need a more traditional scaffolding setup. On a project of this scale, workmen will need access to lots of parts of the building, and they’ll need it on a daily basis. The scaffold will also need to be sturdy enough to cope with the weight of several people and some potentially heavy equipment.

Don’t forget insurance

Many homeowners don’t realise that they need to contact their insurer before any major work begins. If something goes wrong - or your builder isn’t up to scratch - you might be facing a large bill without any support to pay it. There have been cases where roofs have collapsed having been rebuilt improperly, and when that happens you need to know that you’re not going to be completely out of pocket. It’s a straightforward phone call that will save you heartache later on. Let your insurer know.

If you’re interested in learning more about how scaffolding can make your renovation go much more smoothly, get in touch with a member of our friendly team today.

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Access scaffolding questions

Access scaffolding questions

Posted: Wednesday 6 February 2019


In order to work at height on scaffolding, construction workers need to know what they’re doing. It is a job with obvious risks, and falls from height are still the number one reason for injuries or even fatalities at the workplace. As a result, there are strict regulations in place to make sure working at height is as safe as humanly possible and that people working on scaffolding know how to follow best practices.

With this in mind, it is imperative to make sure that access to scaffolding is strictly controlled. If a member of the public were to fall from height after making it onto your scaffolding it might cause all sorts of problems - not least for the injured intruder. There also needs to be safe access for the workers who ascend the scaffolding. In this post, we take a look at common access issues.

Preventing children climbing

The HSE acknowledges that even if proper signage is put up in highly visible locations, and the risk of injury or death made clear, sometimes children may not understand. In a safety bulletin, they explain the problem:

“Children are particularly tempted to climb and every effort must be made to deny ready access onto scaffolds.  The primary means of denial should be site perimeter fencing, but there may be a need for additional local fencing and routine removal of access ladders or use of locked guards or covers to make access ladders unavailable. Where unauthorised access has been gained the result is often a fall from height.  This can cause life changing injuries and fatalities are not uncommon.”

As mentioned, fencing or a means of preventing entry is virtually mandatory in these cases. On larger sites in busier areas, this will mean a perimeter fence that surrounds the entire construction site or property, with a strictly-controlled point of entry. Additionally, this point of entry should be secured when personnel are not present on-site (at night, for instance).

Site intruders

Although every effort can be made to prevent curious children from climbing on scaffolding, it may be the case that other adventurous intruders cannot be kept out. Adults who are driven to climb on the scaffolding presumably won’t be deterred by a fence. In this case, it’s vital to ensure access to scaffolding is curtailed outside of working hours. Ladders and other access points should be removed and locked away at night. Just because an intruder has gained access to the construction site shouldn’t mean they are able to ascend the scaffolding.

If a ladder cannot be removed (for instance, if it is an unremovable part of your scaffolding access) you should use a ladder guard to disable access. If necessary, you can also set up perimeter fencing around any vulnerable or accessible parts of your scaffolding.

Site Assessment

The best place to start is by performing a site assessment. This will take into account a variety of factors to help you determine the actions you need to take to make your scaffolding safe. These might include the site’s proximity to built up areas or residences, whether the site will be closed over weekends or for longer periods of time, and whether there are any security measures in place already.

If you’re interested in learning more about scaffolding, access and security requirements, get in touch with a member of our team today. We are more than happy to share our expertise and experience with you.

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Scaffolding Inspections and you

Scaffolding Inspections and you

Posted: Wednesday 23 January 2019


Here at Cambridge Scaffolding, safety is our watchword. We use our experience and expertise to assemble scaffolding that’s strong, versatile, and functional. It isn’t just because we take our profession very seriously - it’s because working from height is still one of the most dangerous undertakings in the construction industry. As a result, it is also under regular scrutiny. Inspectors are there to make sure scaffolding is up to scratch, and that everyone is following the regulations. In this post, we take a look at what a scaffolding inspection might entail, and how it could affect your project.

Dangerous

It is no secret that working at height can be perilous. According to recent studies, half of all deaths on construction sites are as a result of falls from height. In an industry that already has a higher-than-average mortality rate, it’s imperative we take this kind of issue seriously, and do all we can to prevent unnecessary accidents.

For this reason, scaffolding must undergo inspection before and during its usage on a project. Although the inspector can be one of your own employees, their expertise must be independently certified ahead of time, and their knowledge will need to be specific to your project’s needs. Courses are available and open to anyone, including people without a scaffolding-related background.

An inspection will need to take into account any mistakes or problems with the scaffold and make sure they are remedied before any work is carried out. Additionally, an inspection will need to be carried out once a week during the project. Finally, if there has been a bout of bad weather, an inspection will be needed again to confirm that nothing has been damaged or moved.

Education

It is imperative that everyone working on a scaffold has had the proper training and education beforehand. Unfamiliar equipment like harnesses can easily save someone’s life when used properly, yet there are still so many instances of the rules not being followed and leading to injury or loss of life. There are training courses held by several bodies in the UK, including the CISRS, who also make sure to train people in other professions working at height, such as house painters.

Stephen Allen-Tidy, of the National Access & Scaffolding Confederation said:

“The NASC is committed to promoting the highest standards of safety within the industry. Through the publication and dissemination of a wide range of industry-recognised safety and technical guidance – including SG4:15 Preventing Falls in Scaffolding Operations – we continue to drive safety standards upwards. Through the introduction of the scaffolding awareness training course, the scope of safety training efforts is being extended beyond scaffolding operatives, helping to ensure that all workers who set foot on a scaffold can carry out the tasks they require safely.”

If you have scaffolding or inspection needs, we are able to carry out both to a high standard. With safety on the line, it’s imperative to take advantage of experience and expertise to ensure the safety of your scaffolding. Take a look around our site, or get in touch today to find out more.

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The Secrets of Scaffolding Design

The Secrets of Scaffolding Design

Posted: Wednesday 16 January 2019


Human beings have been using scaffolding, in one form or another, for thousands of years. The more ambitious our buildings, the more necessary it was to be able to work at height effectively. Today, we are able to use scaffolding to erect enormous structures of steel and glass. Further to this, scaffolding isn't just limited to purely construction; scaffolding allows us to maintain the classic buildings we love and admire. Scaffolding's evolution across the centuries to its subsequent form has required experimentation and innovation. In this post, we take a look at some of the secrets of scaffolding design.

Natural materials

In some countries, particularly in Asia, scaffolding still looks pretty much as it did hundreds of years ago. Writing for the Daily Mail, @SaraDMalm describes the bamboo scaffolding in such widespread use:

“Using few safety restraints, [scaffolders] rig up to 1,000 square feet of scaffolding in a day, which they then cover in colourful nylon fabrics. The scaffolders, known locally as taap pang, use as much as 215,000 square feet of bamboo for larger constructions. They shun modern methods, simply using 23-foot bamboo poles and plastic ties to fix the scaffolding in place, before covering them in nylon gauze. The profession is believed to date back around 1,500 years - but has surged in popularity in modern times thanks to bamboo poles being 30 per cent cheaper than metal ones.”

The key to constructing scaffolding is to evenly distribute the weight of those people working on it, as well as compensating for potentially heavy equipment or hoists to bring equipment up to the height it is needed. Although it might seem precarious from a European viewpoint more used to tubular scaffolding, bamboo fulfils many of the same structural requirements. That being said, it is certainly a dangerous profession, with many bamboo scaffolders killed every year.

Modern scaffolding

One of the main benefits to steel tubular scaffolding as we know it is speed. With the right scaffolding team, it can be erected in a relatively short amount of time. Additionally, its versatility makes it possible to erect scaffolding in virtually any location.

Modern scaffolding is highly customisable because its parts are often interchangable. Expert scaffolders are able to achieve almost any shape and size that a client might require. This is eminently useful in projects such as restoration work, where scaffolding must not damage the existing building in any way. Sometimes it is necessary for scaffolding to be 'tied' to the building being worked on, but this will vary from project to project depending on the surroundings and circumstances.

Scaffolders will prepare by measuring the height and width of the required structure, taking into account the intended usage – particularly if heavy equipment is being used. To finish off the design, modern scaffolding uses seasoned timber boards to act as a working surface at height. It is strong, sturdy, and easily transported.

Scaffolding is just like any part of modern construction. Expertise and experience count for as much as the materials themselves and the design and erection of scaffolding is not something to be undertaken by an amateur.

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When to use tower scaffolding

When to use tower scaffolding

Posted: Wednesday 26 December 2018


When working at height, making use of the right equipment is paramount. You wouldn’t try to balance on the end of a ladder, three floors up, while using a chainsaw. Construction workers should be able to access any part of the building easily and feel secure working there, whether that’s two, three or twenty floors up.

High-quality scaffolding makes working at height much more straightforward and safe. In a lot of cases, it can be affixed to the side of a building to make it sturdier - especially important if you’re going to be lifting heavy equipment and materials. However, in cases where using scaffolding in this way is difficult or even impossible, the answer might be tower scaffolding.

Clue in the name

Regular scaffolding requires a team of experts to assemble it, and can be made to cover the entire side of a building if necessary. Such is its versatility and flexibility, it can cover a variety of shapes and dimensions. However, for smaller projects this is a little like overkill. Sitting as an option between a ladder and an assembled scaffolding array lies the tower scaffold.

Although a tower scaffold can be assembled by a layperson, making it a quicker and more budget-friendly solution for a small project, it’s always best to have an expert do it for you. The first thing to determine is whether a tower scaffold really is the most suitable equipment for your project. It may be necessary to have a risk assessment carried out to make matters clearer.

Stability

Because a tower scaffold is free standing, stability is a key concern. Issues like how you’re going to get tools, materials, or equipment up to the upper deck of the scaffold come into play. The government’s health and safety directive outlines some things to keep in mind:

“To maintain tower stability you must make sure the tower is resting on firm, level ground with the locked castors or base plates properly supported. Never use bricks or building blocks to take the weight of any part of the tower; [make sure] stabilisers or outriggers are installed when required by the instruction manual, and that a tower is never erected to a height above that recommended by the manufacturer.”

Similar to regular scaffolding, the tower scaffoldings usage plays a part in regulations. If someone could possibly fall from a height of 2 metres or more when using your scaffold, it will need to be professionally inspected after it’s been assembled, and then again every week it’s being used.

If any piece is missing from your tower scaffold, you shouldn’t use it. The reason that towers are so sturdy is because the pieces all connect to each other and distribute weight, but if there’s a gap it immediately becomes a liability. Additionally, if the weather is against you, particularly in the form of high winds, you should avoid using your tower scaffold until it’s passed. If you’re interested in learning more about this versatile piece of kit, get in touch with a member of our friendly team today to find out more.

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Following the rules: Scaffolding regulations

Following the rules: Scaffolding regulations

Posted: Wednesday 19 December 2018


We all expect to be able to do our jobs in safety, with the right equipment and with proper supervision. This goes double for construction workers of all stripes, since they are exposed to potential dangers in their line of work.

The rules and regulations which govern equipment like scaffolding are there for a reason. Falling from height is still the leading cause of injury and death for construction workers – it's imperative that the proper procedures are followed. In this post, we take a look at some of the regulations that keep men and women safe when working at height.

Instruction

It might sound obvious, but people need to be taught the best practices for working at height on scaffolding. If you're going to working several floors up, then regulations dictate you be given a thorough explanation of how to stay safe up there. This might include knowing when and how to affix safety harnesses, what type of equipment is safe to use on different types of scaffolding, and what weight restrictions scaffolding might have. Other considerations might be what type of lift or hoist you're able to use to get your heavy items up to the floor you need them. An expert scaffolding company will provide this instruction if necessary, but many larger building firms have their own experts on hand.

The company assembling the scaffolding

The government's health and safety directives contain the following information:

“All employees should be competent for the type of scaffolding work they are undertaking and should have received appropriate training relevant to the type and complexity of scaffolding they are working on. Employers must provide appropriate levels of supervision taking into account the complexity of the work and the levels of training and competence of the scaffolders involved. As a minimum requirement, every scaffold gang should contain a competent scaffolder who has received training for the type and complexity of the scaffold to be erected, altered or dismantled.”

Restrictions and rules

It's common for scaffolding to be used for the long haul, with a project potentially taking months to complete, particularly restoration works where care and attention are key. During this time, a scaffold's structural integrity must be tested and cleared every seven days, and after any alteration to the structure, and if there's been a bout of nasty weather.

If the scaffold overhangs the pavement or the road, the builder will need to secure a licence from the local authority. If it's a major project, where there's the chance of falling debris or other dangers, you may be required to do all of the works at night or during quiet times of day. There is the possibility of closing the road altogether, but obviously this is a much more difficult restriction to overcome.

Although many of these issues are the purview of the builder working on your project, it is often the owner's responsibility to ensure that the legal thresholds have been met. If you want to learn more from the scaffolding experts, give our friendly team a call today.

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Working at height

Working at height

Posted: Wednesday 14 November 2018


As any construction worker can tell you, working at height can be a daunting experience. Whether it's wobbling at the top of a ladder or stood on scaffolding, it's imperative to remember that you can't expect to work the same way you would at ground level. There's a reason that regulations exist to manage this sort of operation, falls from height remain the number one cause of death among construction workers. It's time to talk about the ins-and-outs of working at height, the rules you need to follow and the best practices to put in place.

Plan ahead

You should try to avoid working at height wherever possible—if workers can perform a task without the call for a ladder or scaffold, that's the way to go. It saves time, money, and the risk of injury, so it's worth taking the time to explore your options. However, sometimes working at height is simply unavoidable. In this case, make sure you plan out exactly where and how builders will be carrying out work. This will make it easier to determine what equipment will be needed.

You also need to decide who will be overseeing the work, and managing the team working. This kind of task requires efficiency and direction, because no one wants to be thirty floors up for longer than they have to be.

Breaking the fall

Dr. Julie Riggs of Phoenix Health and Safety explains that when working at height, it's very important to reduce the potential falling distance:

“Where using the equipment involves a risk of falling, additional measures to minimise the distance and consequences of any fall must be put in place. Prevent any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury, for example by using a scaffold platform with double guard-rail and toeboards. Equally importantly, arrest a fall with equipment to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall. Options include safety nets, where work at height cannot be avoided or the risk of falling prevented. Remember, whenever work at height accidents are investigated and employers are prosecuted, one of the most common findings is that the work was not properly planned and supervised.”

Collective vs Individual protection

There are two types of protection for people working at height. Individual protection refers to equipment like safety harnesses, which can be firmly attached to a worker and prevent them from reaching the ground in the event of a fall. Remember that a harness needs to be attached to something strong and immovable. The other type of protection is known as collective protection, and refers to equipment that helps keep all workers safe, rather just an individual. This might mean items like guardrails along all scaffolding.

Liability

Your workers' safety is your responsibility. If someone is injured, or even dies after a fall from height on your site, investigators will inspect the safety measures you did (or didn't) put in place. A recent case saw the boss of a roofing company slapped with a suspended jail sentence for making his employees work at height in unsafe conditions, among other crimes.

When used properly and responsibly, scaffolding can be the right solution for any job that requires working at height. To find out more, take a look around our site, or get in touch with a member of our friendly team today.

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