Specialists in occupational health and safety for workplace access, scaffolding and working at height

Respect the unexpected. Think through your risks.

SASC tick icon5 things you need to know about residential scaffolding

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These days with the majority of people having access to the Internet, many will opt to source their own contractors for home repairs and improvements. This may bring with it responsibilities under the Construction Design Management Regulations 2015 (CDM Regs) Please check the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) website for detailed information on the duties placed upon Domestic Clients to decide on how to proceed. If you choose to source your own contractors, please bear in mind the following points for your protection and peace of mind.

  1. As with any advice given by organisations such as Trading Standards and other consumer protection organisations, SASC would advise to always get a minimum of three quotations for any works to be carried out, including scaffolding. The quotations can vary so widely that having a minimum of three will give you a guide to which is the correct cost by taking an average. Quotations that are considerably lower can be (as the old saying goes) too good to be true. Before you proceed you should ask yourself as The Client or Principal Contractor (which you may have become by sourcing contractors) where and how are these savings being made?

  2. Ensure that you always ask for the quotations in writing to establish exactly what has been quoted for and what is not included. For example, decorating jobs will often require the scaffolding to be moved or altered. Check whether these alterations are included or will be charged later as an extra cost. A further item that often trips people up is the ‘hire period’or the period of time that the quoted price allows you to keep the scaffolding before an extra weekly hire charge becomes payable. Most companies will quote a hire period of four to six weeks and then charge a weekly hire charge of between 5% and 10% of the original quotation cost. Again, please check your quotations carefully before instructing a contractor.

  3. Because you may be the Client or Principal Contractor it is also your responsibility and very much in your interest to check the competence and qualifications of the contractors and their employees. If the people carrying out the works are not qualified, any insurances will be null and void. You should also ask to see a copy of the company’s insurance documents which must state that they are actually a scaffolding company, not a building company covered to put up their own scaffolding. Also check whether the workers are directly employed or sub-contractors, if they are the latter, they must have their own insurance policies which should be checked as well.

  4. The qualifications you must see are various cards issued by CISRS (Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme) These are no different to the qualifications required by electricians and gas engineers. Most people are aware that no electrical or gas works can be carried out by persons without the relevant NICEIC or Gas Safe qualifications and cards that must be in date and produced when requested. This is because these are both considered to be high risk trades where a mistake could prove fatal. Scaffolding is no different! If you have inexperienced, incompetent or unqualified scaffolders working on your property then lives could be put at risk, other serious injuries caused or damage to property. If the people involved are not qualified, then the chances are that any insurances will be null and void if they were indeed, adequate for the works to be carried out. Remember, the scaffolders must be able to produce these cards when requested.

  5. One more point to make about insurance is the fact that many providers will not class your property as insured against burglary whilst you have scaffolding erected. This is because the scaffolding allows easy access to upper floor windows which may not be as secure as ground level windows and doors, and in some areas of the country insurers will insist that scaffold alarms are fitted. These alarms have sensors that detect movement on the scaffolding and if fitted, the scaffolding company must display appropriate warning signs, which can itself act as a deterrent to any potential trespasser. We recommend that you inform your home insurance company that scaffolding is going to be erected and ask them to advise accordingly.

We appreciate that this is a lot to take in but are here to try and help you through what can be a bit of a minefield, please don’t panic because accidents are rare, and the majority of contractors are reputable. However, standards of compliance and quality of service do vary, and it is you the customer that is left to weigh up the pro’s and con’s when it comes to how to source and manage your contractors.

It would be easy to say ‘go for the larger contractors as they should have everything in place’ but this is not necessarily true, and some of the smaller providers make sure that they have everything correctly in place because it is in their interest to do so. In short, if you bear in mind these points you will have done your best to protect yourself and others against injury and damage to property or be adequately covered by insurances.

✔ At least three quotes, in writing with hire periods, works to be included and extra work costs

✔ Check CDM Domestic Client details on HSE website and progress accordingly

✔ Check company insurances, sub-contractors insurances

✔ Check cover with your home insurance company

✔ Check the scaffolders qualifications, at least one of them must hold an in-date Part 2 Scaffolders card and the others at least an in-date Part 1 card if they are working above ground level.

If you have any questions regarding scaffolding or indeed any other Health and Safety issues please see our contact page and we will be happy to help you.

SASC have a very comprehensive portfolio of health and safety services follow this link for the detailed list

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