Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Scaffolding Inspection

Hello everyone,

We have been recently asked whether there is a 'standard checklist' for scaffolding inspection and if so where can we get it. I have also seen this topic discussed on the HSE construction forum.

As it happens we are currently in the process of creating one, which, when finished will be available to download from our website, however this raises another question:

What experience/qualifications must you have to inspect scaffolding?

Around 2 years ago I attended a training course in Scaffolding Inspection in Wakefield run by a large training centre with a reasonable reputation. To say that it was a total waste of time would be accurate. At the time I had been designing scaffolding for around 2.5 years and thought that my depth of scaffolding knowledge was fairly good. The course itself was delivered by an unenthusiastic trainer who was regurgitating a set of out-of-date slides and handouts. We talked about the 'special scaffolds' in 5973 and that upon completion of the course you would be able to inspect them, we were given a 'design drawing' to look at (which was poor) and talked through how to read them. The questions delegates had went unanswered and in the end the trainer was looking to me to answer them.

There were people on the course with very little scaffolding experience, some didn't even know the difference between a transom and a ledger, while others were ex-scaffolders looking for a change in career.

This just makes me wonder if these people can attend a two day course and then go out and inspect scaffolding, where does that leave the clients/main contractors and sometimes scaffolding contractors that employ such independent inspectors? Do they all hold PI insurance to cover their work? Who verifies that they are capable?

OK they could probably do a reasonable job inspecting a 3 lift, 5 bay independent with no sheeting and tied properly etc. but how would they cope inspecting something of considerable size and complexity? Would they be able to read and understand a complex design drawing and then assess the scaffolding accordingly? Make assessments of the critical members, tie points, check fittings, beam supports etc. Is there anyone out there that could say: "Sorry, you do not have the experience/expertise to inspect this scaffold?"

I had a telephone call from an 'independent inspector' 2 weeks ago who was inspecting a scaffold that I had designed. He asked me why I specified 'transom centres at 915mm c/c instead of the usual 1200mm', he asked about why he would need to 'check' the fittings as surely they were manufactured to British Standards and why he would need to only check the rakers and not all of the scaffolding? I duly explained about load on working platforms and transom centres and that a check fitting wasn't literally checking the fitting. I then asked him how the RMD slimshores looked that were attached to the bridge pier using resin anchors and supporting about 85% of the scaffold.... to which he replied: "What RMD slimshores?"

I rest my case.

I would love to hear about your experiences with scaffolding inspectors that have left you baffled or gab-smacked or just with a general disbelief. Similarly, please let me know of anyone you have found to be on top of their game and a credit to the industry.

Hopefully our scaffolding checklist will be available shortly for you all to use.


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