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System scaffolders go it alone over height rules

PLANT New association says it will offer a safe system of work for scaffolders without relying on harnesses

A GROUP of leading system scaffolding specialists has broken away from the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation.

Eight firms have set up a new association, to be known as Safe - System Association for Fall Elimination.The group said it was frustrated at the slow pace the NASC was embracing the new work at height regulations, particularly the move away from harnesses to collective protection such as guardrails. Safe said it was committed to sharing its findings and was happy to collaborate with the NASC.

The association said it had devised a safe system of work for erecting, dismantling and altering both system scaffold and formwork that eliminates the risk of falls without resorting to harnesses.

At the same time, it will promote system scaffold methods of meeting the new European scaffold standard EN 12811, which it believes will require less management effort than conventional tube and fitting methods.

The group is to be chaired by safety consultant Clive Johnson, currently working with BAA on Heathrow's Terminal 5, and will include members from system scaffold contractors, manufacturers and suppliers, together with safety specialists and CITBConstructionSkills.

Founder member Gary Gallagher, of Turner Access, said: 'We believe the people who build the scaffold should have the same level of protection as those for whom they build.We have systems of work with collective protection from start to finish, using techniques such as advance guardrails, which avoid the need for harnesses.Harnesses are dealing only with the consequences of falls, whereas we aim to prevent them' Mr Gallagher said: 'We believe that with the requirements of work at height for collective protection and the new standard that system methods are a better option for users.'

Safe has systems of work in place for all the main scaffold structures, from tied and freestanding wall scaffolds to towers and birdcages.

The group is working with the CITB on training standards for system techniques, which will ultimately see training schemes within the next six months, and the first universally agreed training for formwork and falsework erectors.

This would also see the first major scaffold training outside the Construction Industry Scaffolder's Record Scheme.

Mr Gallagher said: 'The major thing missing to date has been nationally recognised training centres that comply with the work at height regulations.People will not need to go through a lot of involved training. For instance, many of the people involved in erecting formwork are joiners by trade, rather than scaffolders.'