MEL Health and Safety Consultants

Scaffold Inspections

Scaffold Inspections

One key way in which scaffolding contractors can protect themselves from accidents is by the specification and maintenance of proper programmes of independent scaffold inspection.  By law scaffolds must be designed and erected, then inspected before first use and weekly thereafter by a competent person.  Failure to perform these inspections has lead to numerous accidents, many of which have had fatal consequences.

Is the scaffolder who erected the scaffold deemed to be "competent" to inspect his own scaffold when time and cost pressures of a busy site impinge?  In the majority of cases the answer is "yes, of course" - scaffolders, especially on major contracts, are well trained and nobody wants to work on an unsafe structure.

The problem that emerges is, in the aftermath of a major failure, one of the first questions that the HSE will be asking is "how did you know it was safe?".  They will be looking closely at the inspection records and determining who was responsible for maintaining the register, examining what training or experience that person possessed in order to enable them to be deemed 'competent' to do so.  If an employee of the scaffolder or even principal contractor made the inspections, however properly, then questions may well be asked.

Leaving aside the aftermath of a serious accident, the HSE are showing themselves willing to prosecute site owners who do not secure the safety of all staff on site.  With the emphasis on collective over personal protection in the Work at Height Regulations it is more vital than ever that site owners protect themselves legally as well as physically.

M.E.L. are market leaders in training and consultancy for the access industries and offer a full, independent scaffolding inspection service.  If you would like to discuss employing M.E.L. to undertake inspections of scaffolding on your behalf, please contact a member of our expert consultancy team on 01708 555544.