Safe erection and dismantling of scaffolding in London

Erection and dismantling scaffolds remains a high-risk activity, not only to those carrying out the work, but to other workers and the general public. The following guide sets out steps, which need to be considered by anyone involved with such work. It is aimed not only at those directly working in the scaffolding industry but also to clients, planning supervisors and principal contractors. Set out below are a number of key issues you will need to consider to ensure scaffolding operations are undertaken safely.

The law and planning for safety:

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994
  • Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Protection of the public

When scaffolding operations are in progress the public must be excluded from both the area of work and a sufficient area around it. Steps to ensure this will include:

  • Obtaining a temporary pavement or street closure whilst operations are carried out
  • Undertaking operations in “quiet” hours i.e. early morning, at night or at weekends
  • Incorporating fans, crash decks and “tunnels” as early as possible into a scaffold
  • Erecting barriers and signs and diverting the public away from operations
  • Storing scaffold clips and other loose materials safely on the scaffold
  • Not raising or lowering materials over members of the public or other site workers.

Also consider that disabled persons need proper access along pavements covered by scaffolding.

Scaffolders working at height

Scaffolds must follow safe systems of work to prevent people falling. In particular:

  • When lifting or lowering materials, scaffolders must be clipped on or working within a handing platform that is fully boarded, with double guard-rails and toe boards
  • A minimum 3 board working platform together with a single guard-rail is provided as erection or dismantling works progress
  • Safety harnesses to be worn a all times by scaffolders and fitted with a 1.75m length lanyard and a 55m opening scaffold hook or similar for one handed operation
  • Harnesses should be clipped on to a secure anchorage point requires the following minimum conditions:
    1. The scaffold must be tied in to a sound structure as work progresses:
    2. Attachment can be made to a ledger, transom or guard-rail supported with load bearing couplers or a transom supported by ledgers in a lift above fixed at both ends by single couplers.
  • At least one bay of a scaffold should remain boarded out as work progresses and this should be used for ladder access for scaffolders for the full height of the scaffold
  • Safe ladder access for scaffolders should be incorporated as early as possible into the erection process
  • Scaffolders should not be clambering up and down scaffolds without proper ladder access and safe working platforms provided on each lift being worked on.

Stability of scaffolds

Each year there are a number of scaffold collapses across the country. To make sure your scaffold does not collapse you should ensure that:

  • The anchors specified to tie a scaffold to a structure are suitable for the base material and that they are installed correctly
  • Scaffold anchors or ties are installed as erection work progresses. Conversely, they should not be removed too early during dismantling operations
  • More ties will be needed on a sheeted or netted scaffold to ensure it’s stability
  • Scaffolds are not overloaded with equipment, especially tube and fittings, during erections or dismantling operations.

Read the full article on Haringey.

If you require safe erection and dismantling scaffolding services in London call us at 0800 311 8004 or email us at

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