Serious injury or even death can result from the failure of a timber scaffold board, and can leave contractors facing prosecution and significant fines, as recent incidents have shown, BM TRADA says.
Scaffold boards are used in their thousands on construction sites across the UK, it says, enabling workers to operate safely at height.
It is for this reason that the provider of certification and training services has launched a new inspection scheme, the Q Mark Used Timber Scaffold Board Inspection Scheme, which it says will enable certified companies to demonstrate that their inspectors are competent to determine if boards should remain in use.
It says the scheme has been developed to address the fact that failures are often the result of used scaffold boards being inadequately checked after having been stored or used inappropriately.
While there is no legislative requirement for used timber scaffold boards to be regularly inspected to ensure safety on site, scaffold boards should be checked and assessed on a regular basis when in use, and each time they are re-issued or supplied to site, BM TRADA says. It is also important that boards which have been checked are stored separately to those that have not.
With major contractors recognising the dangers, they are starting to ask how scaffold board issuing companies can demonstrate the competency of those inspecting boards. The BM TRADA Q-Mark Used Timber Scaffold Board Inspection Scheme provides a means of verifying that inspectors are suitably qualified, it says.
While most scaffolding companies will ensure their employees complete a scaffolders’ training course, the BM TRADA Scheme provides added confidence to contractors, since the competence of board inspectors is regularly checked by an independent third party body. This enables contractors to specify their hire with confidence and demonstrate due diligence if required.
To achieve certification under the scheme, the scaffolding company must nominate individual employees who will be covered. Each is required to demonstrate their competence to identify damage that is likely to reduce the strength of used timber scaffold boards.
Every nominated inspector is required to complete scheme-specific training, pass an examination and complete a competence assessment at the company’s premises.
BM TRADA will also undertake an initial audit of the company to ensure that a documented inspection process is in place. This process must demonstrate that only approved inspectors carry out inspections, only approved boards are released for use and all rejected boards are segregated.
Companies who meet the scheme’s requirements will be issued with a certificate and certification marks to enable them to demonstrate and promote their certification. Certification is valid for two years and, following this, is maintained through a programme of annual surveillance audits, with a recertification audit required in the second year before the certification expires.
In addition to offering confidence to contractors, the scheme enables certified companies to demonstrate their competence and highlight their commitment to quality, BM TRADA says.
This offers them a competitive advantage when tendering and can increase repeat business as contractors increasingly recognise the benefit of specifying used timber scaffold boards which are regularly inspected by third party certified competent inspectors, it adds.