Falling Industry Standards

I have major concerns that standards are falling in the industry and it will not be long before our industry kills someone.

In light of the unfortunate events in London last week and over the weekend, we at Fulcrum think it is time to raise some key points which we have observed during the past twelve months.

We have attended several sites across the UK and found poor practices, some of which meant that the scaffold structures had the potential to collapse. Below are some of our findings:

  • Lack of scaffolding knowledge and training for site/project managers.
  • Inexperienced scaffolders, supervisors, managers, designers, project managers/supervisors.
  • Inadequate statutory scaffold inspections completed in accordance with the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
  • Scaffold companies falsifying inspection reports.
  • Lack of documentation in place for designs, TG20 compliant sheets, training records for the scaffolding contractor, insurance policies, pavement licences, RAMS etc.
  • Scaffold erected not as per design or even TG20 compliant.
  • Ties omitted or installed incorrectly, with no evidence of tie testing being completed.
  • Bracing omitted.
  • Debris netting installed on the inside of the scaffold.
  • Incorrect standard spacing for the load stated.
  • Inadequate level of competence of the scaffolder, for example, Part 1 trainee scaffolders working with labourers to erect complex scaffold structures.
  • No SG4 compliance when erecting or dismantling scaffold structures.
  • Bridge and roof sections installed not as per design or TG20 compliant.

We must state that this list is not exhaustive.

I do not feel that this is due to the training being delivered under the CISRS scheme, as this is now standardised. Providing centres follow the criteria, the training should be delivered to a high standard.

My view, as a scaffolder since 1984, is that some principal contractors have poor safety procedures, and there is a poor safety behavioural culture in some scaffold companies. I ask myself why this is. I, personally, think it is down to costs; smaller scaffolding companies are cutting costs which leads to corners being cut and supervisors/managers not challenging their scaffolders poor workmanship.

In addition to the above, the principal contractor and site management team are not receiving the correct level of training to manage scaffold operations on site. Also, no costs are allowed in the contract for weekly statutory scaffold inspections to be completed as in accordance with the Working at Height Regulations 2005.

I would also have to question the use of agency labour rather than PAYE but that is for another blog.

I am sure we all do not want to see anyone hurt, but we have a ticking bomb here. If we do not act now we will soon have a fatality, and then it will be too late.