I WOULD like to to reply to the letter from Terry Thompson in your January 14 edition, calling for independent safety checks on scaffolding.
I have spent all of my working life in the access industry, working my way up from labourer, to fixer, to advanced level, to proprietor.
Firstly, the scaffolding industry is still not fully recognised as a skilled trade by major contractors.
What is the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation doing to educate them to the fact that scaffolding is a highly skilled trade with, for the most part, highly skilled operatives carrying certificates of competency?
I agree with Mr Thompson that the safety inspectors should be selected from the trade.
And yes, I would admit there are cowboys in the industry. Therefore, I say, those scaffolders who have the skill, talent and speed to earn big money on target work are entitled to their rewards. Those who don't have the skills are the only people who would benefit from changing the system.
Target work does not actually encourage the 'slash it up' system Mr Thompson refers to, because payment for such work is not made until a handover certificate is made out stating that:
the scaffold complies with all the relevant legislation and
the customer/contractor accepts it as fit for use and purpose.
These certificates are issued by a competent supervisor or manager with relevant practical skills and experience.
This system of work benefits workers financially and satisfies contractors, which have deadlines and programmes to meet.
Any other method of payment might result in the new method of payment I keep reading about - 'Millennium ransom'.
To put the record straight - scaffolding contractors already stand the cost of rectifying the scaffold if it is not acceptable to the main contractor. Only if the scaffold is altered or interfered with by other site subcontractors or other site employees are the contractors charged, after enlightening them to this fact.
Hopefully the 'target' system of payment adopted by the majority of scaffold companies also helps maintain the competitiveness of the industry and its suppliers.
Greater London Scaffolding
Forest Business Park
South Access Road