CROSS Safety Report
This report is over 2 years old
A reporter highlights how, following modest levels of snow fall in the winter, scaffolding erected in order to support a temporary roof collapsed inwards.
Key Learning Outcomes
For construction professionals:
Be aware that the design and construction of scaffolding requires the same degree of competence and quality as does permanent works
Scaffolding is also temporary works, so the principles of BS 5975, published in May 2019 also apply
Scaffolding and its supports should be inspected regularly, particularly following periods of bad weather
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 sets out the requirements for inspections of scaffolding
It is good practice to carry out a continual risk assessment before and during the use of scaffolding
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Scaffolding was erected in order to support a temporary roof as part of a first floor extension to a school building. Following modest levels of snow fall in the winter, the scaffolding collapsed inwards, says a reporter. The wind speeds were low and not thought to be a contributing factor to the collapse.
The reporter expected such a structure to be designed for snow loading in accordance with current standards, so concluded that the scaffolding was not constructed properly. However, when they visited the site after the collapsed scaffolding was reconstructed, they were unable to obtain any information from site personnel on the causes of the collapse.
The reporter climbs scaffolding frequently in the course of their work and this event highlighted to them the importance of carrying out a continual risk assessment before and during use of scaffolding.
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Knowledge as to whether the scaffolding was a modular system or tube and coupler would be useful. My limited knowledge of the latter is that a properly designed scaffold has a high factor of safety which is recognised by scaffold erectors. Torque levels in fittings depend solely on the erector; piecework payments and late in the day tiredness can result in torque levels that are too low and possibly even fittings that are not tightened. Scaffold geometry changes due to movement as a consequence of poor erection can jam any loose fittings and possibly create sufficient structural integrity.
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The design and construction of scaffolding requires the same degree of competence and quality as does permanent works and if this is not the case, then collapses can occur. If the scaffolding was being used (at least in part) as a means of access and a working platform, as well to support a temporary roof, the following provide industry guidance for the design for tube and fitting scaffolding:
BS EN 12811-1 Temporary works equipment - Scaffolds - Performance requirements and general design
TG20:13 Good Practice Guidance for Tube and Fitting Scaffolding
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 set out the requirements for inspection (nominally every 7 days).The scaffolding is also temporary works, so the principles of BS 5975:2019 Code of practice for temporary works procedures and the permissible stress design of falsework, published in May 2019, also applies. How often is scaffolding of this nature subject to an independent check?
Again, there is a collection of CROSS reports on safety issues concerned with scaffolding. You can search for safety information on scaffolding on the CROSS website.