Scaffolding, one of the safest industries in the UK

Posted almost 2 years Ago

Scaffolding built around a high rise building - protected by liability Insurance

Surprisingly to some, the scaffolding Industry remains one of the safest industries in the UK, with the most recent report from the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) showing a continuing decline in injuries with no fatalities from their members in 2015/2016. Despite this there were still thirty three serious injuries in this reporting year.

Don't take unnecessary risks

Accidents are still being recorded across the industry, with the most recent case involving working at heights taking place in January 2017, when a builder in Rochdale was fined for putting workers lives at risk after the workers were found accessing a roof by cat ladder to remove waste building material, which they were carrying down the ladders in buckets. Despite the fact that there were no injuries the company was fined £6000 plus £2440 in costs - something to be aware of.

In 2016 a company in Essex was fined £5,000 and £1,582 in costs when a worker was seriously injured. The company had tied an access ladder to a scaffold tower that had been erected around a chimney, and no Gin Wheel had been installed. The worker who was injured had been using the ladder to access waste building materials, and remove them from the roof, he fell seven metres resulting in injuries that have left him without the full use of his hands.

In 2015 a company in the UK was fined £5,000 when a worker was knocked from a scaffold tower by falling debris. During the case the HSE advised that the fall would have been prevented if missing guard rails and toe boards had been in place.

Those who work in the Scaffold industry would know the importance of correct checks, especially after the scaffold has been changed, or after wet or windy weather, risk assessments, tagging, and method statements that should be available to all employees to read so that they know the correct procedures to follow, providing them with confidence reassured that the scaffold is safe. But you also know that even with all these procedures in place accidents can still happen, and they are nearly always down to human error.

Accident prevention

Simple preventions that should be taken to prevent falls when working over two metres are the use of double guard rails, toe boards and scaffold platforms. Netting should also be considered, although difficult when in a confined space.

The scaffold tower is considered one of the safest use of scaffold, but despite this most injuries in the scaffold business are from scaffold towers? With most of the injuries sustained when the scaffold tower has overturned? The main reasons being:

  • Dangerous methods of erection or dismantling.
  • Defects in the erected scaffold tower, most commonly where guard rails or platforms are missing.
  • Ladders leant against the scaffold tower causing it to overturn.
  • Moving the tower when someone is still on the tower.

Did you know that it is a Health and Safety requirement that towers must be erected by fully trained people who have been have been trained by a recognised training institution, and that records must be available?

All of these facts highlight the essential need for the correct scaffold insurance for your business. An insurance company that can provide not only cover, but advice, as accidents can and do happen, not least because you are reliant that your employees will follow the correct procedures that you have put into place; and whilst it is reassuring that accidents in the scaffolding industry are rare and injuries are recorded as falling, it is important to remember that working at heights still remains the leading cause of death in the building industry.

A quick glance at the internet shows the need for robust scaffold insurance with reams and reams of solicitors who specialise in claims for scaffolding injuries.

Whilst you may be aware that as a scaffold business owner it is essential that you have liability insurance have you thought that as well as accidents to employees there are so many other things to consider, for example that you may get injured in what we have described as one of the highest risk jobs in the building industry? Have you considered what will happen to your family or your business if you are unable to work? So do you need personal liability insurance as part of your scaffold insurance package?

Do you need public liability insurance? Yes. Incidents of the public being injured from scaffold are rare but they do happen. In 2006 three workers were injured, and sadly one died three days later, when fourteen stories of scaffolding collapsed in Milton Keynes. High winds were thought to be the cause of the collapse but the scaffolding crushed numerous cars in the street, and luckily other workmen on the site were at lunch at the time or there could have been numerous injuries and deaths.

This case highlights that despite all of the safety regulations being applied the scaffolder cannot control the weather, with high winds recognised as a hazard of the job.

With Health and Safety Executive guidelines advising that work should be stopped in high winds, this can severely impact on the timeframe of the contract, and it is important to consider whether you, as a scaffold company, have cover for unforeseen circumstances due to weather included in your scaffold insurance.

You probably have sub-contractors working for you; do you know whether they need to be considered when taking out your scaffold insurance package?

One of the other hazards of the profession is that your site is very often left “open” at night, are your tools safe? Is your scaffolding safe? Or are they both at risk of theft?

When taking out scaffold insurance it is clear that there are numerous facts to consider. Add to that recent deregulation in the scaffold insurance industry has resulted in a huge amount of information available to scaffold companies, with an overflow of information on what is best for you and your company; it can be considered a minefield.

With so many things to consider where do you start when there are so many companies offering so many different things? Tradesman Insurance 4u specialise in insurance for the building industry. Comparing quotes from various top insurers in just a few simple steps. We provide advice and assistance to help you understand which type of scaffold insurance you require, that will be specific to your needs. We give you as much information as possible on our site so you can make an informed decision in your own time.

Recommended reading for a scaffolder

The National Access & Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) are full of helpful advice and information, visit their website by clicking here.

You can visit the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who have toolkits available to help you build your business safely, as well as useful myth busting information such as:

· “Ladders have been banned from building sites by the HSE.”

No they have not.

· “You need to be fully qualified before you can use a ladder at work.”

No you don’t but you do need to be competent, having the skills and knowledge to use a ladder.

It is important to note that as the employer it is your responsibility to ensure that the employee has these skills; which may mean that they are trained by someone who has the skills and knowledge, but this training can take place whilst on the job.

· “When you are walking up and down stairs you are working at heights.”

No you are not working at heights.

· “You need to have two feet and one hand on a stepladder at all times when carrying out a task.”

No you don’t, otherwise how would you carry out the task such as putting up a smoke alarm? The HSE advises that you should have three points of contact when carrying out a task on a step ladder, but it can be your two feet and your body, which can be leant against the ladder to stabilise it.

· “The HSE has banned the use of ladders to access scaffold and you will be fined if you ignore this ban.”

The HSE website has confirmed that ladders can be used, but not to access scaffold towers.

Visit the HSE website for more information by clicking here.

As a scaffolder and employer it is a difficult business with so many things to take into account, the risks of the job, ensuring that documentation is up to date, and complying with the 2005 Health and Safety at work act, employees working on site without supervision, whether the site is secure, the list can go on and on. For these reasons it is important to make sure that you have the right scaffold insurance to meet your needs, and support you in your business.

your business.

To find out about the scaffolders insurance Tradesman Insurance 4u offer, head to our dedicated scaffolders insurance page and get your quote in four simple steps, today.


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