When you need scaffolding, you want to be able to have absolute confidence in the platforms provided. Scaffolding can make exterior repair jobs significantly safer and easier; but the most accidents occur from either misuse, or inadequate installation. Scaffolding by default is not a guarantee of safety; there are many factors to consider: safety gates, multiple guardrails – at sufficient heights, foam protective coverings when near the ground, netting etc..
The law states that in the UK scaffolding must be erected by a trained and competent professional. How you define that can be a little trickier for the uninitiated.
What does a trained and competent person look like in the scaffolding trade?
The first thing to know is that in theory, on private property it could be anyone. You don’t need a license to be a scaffolder, unless your installing it over a public footpath or road; this is then obtained from the local council.
You can’t know for sure how much experience a scaffolder has had, but you can vet their experience if they’re member to one of several well known regulatory bodies and training schemes.
CISRS – Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme
One of the most common, any good scaffolder should gold a CISRS card or similar. The CISRS holds training for scaffolders and inspectors and has minimum set standards that individuals must meet to pass their criteria.
The CISRS has various cards that those in the scaffolding industry can hold:
- Trainee scaffolder
- Scaffolder (tube and fitting)
- Scaffolder (system)
- Advanced scaffolders
- Scaffolding supervisor
To obtain a card scaffolders must complete training and assessments at an accredited CISRS centre.
You can verify a card on the CISRS website using a scaffolders ID / registration number or National Insurance number and Surname or Date of Birth.
Other regulatory bodies
Look out for PASMA which is the Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ & Manufacturers’ Association. They regulate the mobile access tower industry. And the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) which isn’t a replacement for the CISRS but has further training courses for the construction industry general. Some scaffolding companies may hold CISRS cards and CITB cards.
You also have the Scaffolding Association which is less commonly adopted – partly due to the higher fees and their requirements. But if a scaffolding company is a member then this is a very strong vouch for their credibility.
Look for samples online
A trustworthy scaffolding company that takes pride in their work should be inclined to showcase it online. Most companies have a website, Facebook or “Google my Business” page these days. All allow the business to upload photo samples of previous work. There may not be loads, but at least a few examples show you that they care enough to publish them, potentially show the quality, type of work and that they are a real business.
Look for examples in your local area – or ask where you can find some
Typically if your choosing a scaffolder local to you and they do good work, you should be able to find some recent examples around town. Scaffolding often stays up for weeks or months and a busy firm should have a few around the place. The fact that there are several examples is a good sign, you might not know what makes a good scaffold, but you can look out for standard safety features including:
- Security gates
- Guard rails
- Foam protective coverings in public places (at ground level)
- Netting in public places – over busy roads etc..
You can also check the quality of the scaffolding and boards, for instance shiny and unblemished scaffolding is likely to be new, deformed and damaged poles doesn’t give the best impression, nor does rotten and weathered boards.
Check their reviews
These days online reviews are a relatively good indicator of a trustworthy business. Reputation matters a lot in the trades, and if someone has a bad experience they’re more likely to write about it online. Most people are used to seeing and writing positive reviews too. A trusted firm should at least have a couple of reviews online. This isn’t a complete guide of-course, some businesses don’t know as much about reviews or how to ask for them, but if it’s important to you, why go with an unrated or badly rated firm?
There’s a clear choice here. Blitz Scaffolding has many 5 star reviews, and you might argue that these could be faked – that’s down to your discretion, no one can say for sure. But what we do know is that they were posted over the course of a couple of years, by numerous individuals, with real names, who have pictures and who have posted other reviews in their local area. It’s also important to look into the sentiment of reviews and judge for yourself. Use other factors as well, don’t rely solely on reviews, but they are a good indicator.