We take a look at some of the common queries asked about scaffolding
Neighbourly matters, particularly with reference to Party Wall related works, often require access to neighbouring land or gardens. A recent blog explored what was necessary to protect the site at ground level to ensure that not only is the site secure but also safe. Securing the site from the ground isn’t complicated and there are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that any errant pets or children are not put in danger. Things do become a little more complex however when scaffold is required, normally for high level works such as roof maintenance or extension. Often access will be required onto the neighbouring land for the erection of scaffold which will usually mean a number of scaffold poles sitting on base plates need to be erected in the neighbouring garden. For normal residential schemes an experienced scaffolder can generally formulate the design on site and this is generally acceptable. A working platform will need to be installed at roof level to allow for a safe working space and this is usually accessed by a series of ladders from ground level.
Whilst the calibration of the scaffold for a loft conversion will be straightforward it is important, particularly if the scaffold extends over the neighbouring land, that the scaffold itself is protected from low level upwards. The most common form of scaffold protection is high density polyethylene debris netting which is available in a variety of colours, a flame retardant variety is also available. This netting is normally available in 2m x 5m rolls and can be affixed to almost any scaffold by a suitably qualified operative. Generally polyethylene netting is the cheapest and most common solution to mitigating against the transfer of dust and debris.
A second, albeit slightly more expensive option, is mono sheeting – often referred to as Monarflex. This sheeting is made from a material called Co-polymer LDPE and is suitable for containing works which may produce a more significant amount of dust or debris, such as sand blasting or demolition. Mono sheeting is generally accepted to be of greater strength and offer more durability that regular scaffold netting and is normally appropriate for use in schemes lasting up to 12 months.
Once the scaffold is in situ it is likely to be used regularly and there are a number of important considerations to make with respect to both the users and those living nearby, behind or even underneath. The purpose of a scaffolding structure is to provide safe and stable access when working at height. Working at height involves multiple trades, tools and equipment also being at height.
It’s easy to appreciate the risks of tools, equipment and employees falling from the scaffolding structure and also understand the importance of simple safety precautions such as handrails and toe boards, designed to reduce this risk.
Handrails also known as scaffold railings are intended to prevent scaffolding supplies, tools, equipment and employees falling over the edge of the scaffold or falling from the structure. Handrails are designed with three main functions;
- To stop people working within the scaffolding structure from falling over the edge of the scaffold
- Stop people, objects, tools and equipment falling or slipping under the railing
- Prevent objects, tools, equipment and scaffolding supplies being kicked or knocked off the edge of the scaffold structure
Toe boards are just an imperative scaffolding component working in conjunction with the purpose and function of handrails. The purpose of a toe board is prevent objects, tools and equipment being falling over the edge or being knocked from the scaffolding structure.
Its best practice to implement toe boards whenever handrails are used whenever there’s a risk of tools or objects falling from the edge.
Toes board requirements as set by the HSE and the US equivalent OSHA state a toe board must be a minimum height of at least 4” tall with a gap no less than 1/4” at the bottom, with the ability to withstand a weight of 50 lbs.
The Hopps Partnership are well placed to advise on measures which may or may not be appropriate in ensuring the safety of those living near a scaffold, we would always recommend that discussions take place before the scaffold is erected to ensure the dangers and risks are mitigated against.
Further information can be found both on the Health and Safety Executives website here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/workingatheight.htm or head over to the Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme website: http://cisrs.org.uk/.