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Falls From Height – Are You Legally Responsible?

Falls From Height – Are You Legally Responsible?

By Adrian Rooney, Chair of the NASC Health and Safety Committee and Managing Director of Midland Scaffolding Services

A contractor is injured after falling off a scaffold. In legal terms, who is responsible?

Most people answering this question correctly apportion liability to the contractor’s employer and the scaffolding contractor, however many respondents completely overlook another party that could be held to blame; the principal contractor or developer.

Worryingly, many principal contractors and developers are themselves unaware of their legal responsibilities under Work at Height Regulations 2005 – and the financial penalties they face for breaching this legislation.

In April 2018, a principal contractor received an eight-month sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to pay £5,000 compensation and £2,000 in costs after a self-employed worker fell from height and suffered life threatening injuries.

Leeds Crown Court heard how the operative fell approximately eight metres on to a paved floor, resulting in a traumatic brain injury, bruising, and damage to his left arm.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that scaffolding erected on the site did not extend fully across the intended area of works and did not provide a protective area along the ledge where the operative was working. The principal contractor failed to ensure suitable and sufficient measures were in place to prevent persons falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.

This case demonstrates the need for developers and principal contractors using scaffolds on their projects to be fully responsible for managing this equipment. HSE regulations state that they should check that anyone they appoint has the skills, knowledge, experience and, where relevant, the organisational capability to carry out their work safely and without risk to health.

But what does this mean in practice and how do those organisations protect themselves from the possibility of prosecution and potentially severe financial penalties?

The NASC would remind everyone with responsibility that scaffold inspections are undertaken weekly as required by the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and that all tradesman using the scaffolds are fully aware of how to work on the scaffold safely and have received appropriate training.

We also strongly recommend that their procurement process is robust. They should be able to demonstrate that the scaffolding contractor they appoint has the necessary competence and experience to erect and dismantle scaffolding safely with skilled operatives and can evidence that they are health and safety compliant.

This can easily be achieved by simply ensuring they utilise the services of an NASC full contracting member. To gain, and then retain, NASC membership, the scaffolding contractor must prove they are experienced and meet all current health and safety legislation and their operatives are highly trained with an emphasis on directly employed operatives, as well as meeting additional stringent membership criteria.

By adopting an NASC only scaffolding procurement policy, companies can go a long way to protecting themselves against the likelihood of prosecutions and associated financial penalties or custodial terms under the recent Health and Safety Sentencing Guidelines.

We believe that greater awareness of the potential legal and financial risks principal contractors and developers currently expose themselves to will result in an increased appreciation of the peace of mind value of using NASC only.

So, remember, when it comes to procuring safe and compliant scaffolding that won’t leave you liable in the event of a fall from height – it has to be NASC.

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NASC Launches Head for Heights Campaign

NASC Launches Head for Heights Campaign

The National Access and Scaffolding Confederation has today launched its Head for Heights campaign, aimed at changing how mental health is approached and acted upon in the scaffolding industry.

The campaign will see the NASC attempt to break down the stigma surrounding mental health and wellbeing and raise awareness of the simple steps companies can take to introduce a proactive approach to tackling these issues in a sensitive manner – and the positive impact this can have.

As part of the Head for Heights initiative, the NASC has signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge, a growing social movement established to end mental health discrimination, and is urging NASC members to follow suit.

According to Time to Change, one in four people experience a mental health problem every year and half of those affected say that the associated isolation and shame is worse than the condition itself.

Robin James, NASC Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to launch our Head for Heights campaign and also sign the Time to Change Employer Pledge, demonstrating our commitment to addressing how mental health is viewed in the industry.

“There is a stigma surrounding mental health, one that is felt particularly keenly in a male-dominated industry such as scaffolding and access. That’s why we’re so keen to support people and help them find the confidence to speak up, and also support businesses looking to step up their mental health and wellbeing support.”

To find out more about Time to Change and to sign the Employer Pledge click here.

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NASC Vice President Joins Equality in Construction Event Panel

Credit: Neil Pepper, MBE and Women in Transport

NASC Vice President Joins Equality in Construction Event Panel

NASC Vice President Lynn Way joined a panel of successful businesswomen at the Breaking Down Barriers to Success event, aimed at promoting equality in construction.

Mrs Way, Financial Director and Company Secretary at Chris Sedgeman Scaffolding Ltd, spoke about the benefits of creating more opportunities for women to thrive in what remains a heavily male-dominated sector.

“I’m passionate about promoting the value of increasing the number of women in senior positions in the scaffolding and wider construction industries, both from an equality point of view and in terms of commercial common sense,” she said.

“This event has been really positive. It’s been fantastic to meet so many inspiring people.”

At the event, co-hosted by Women in Transport and Women in H&S and held at UBM’s offices in London, Mrs Way also spoke about her pride in becoming NASC’s first female director in its 73-year history and how Chris Sedgeman Ltd had benefited from employing women in senior positions.

She said: “The women I have employed have brought a great deal of experience and skills into the business. By giving these women the opportunity to thrive they have achieved great things personally and so has the company.

“What we need now is for more women to be given more opportunities across the construction sector to follow suit.”

 

Photo credit: Neil Pepper, MBE and Women in Transport

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Value Explored at Safe Scaffolding Breakfast Briefing

Value Explored at Safe Scaffolding Breakfast Briefing

The advantages of adopting a value-driven approach to procurement are set to be explored at an NASC breakfast briefing.

The Future of Safe Scaffolding event will give delegates a greater understanding of how the scaffolding and access industry’s approach to health and safety is evolving and how this benefits them – helping them to streamline their procurement process and create a safer and more effective and accountable supply chain.

The briefing takes place at the UK Chamber of Shipping on Thursday 31 May.

Speakers on the day include Des Moore, TRAD Group CEO and NASC President, Bob Whincap, former Chair of the Access and Scaffolding Industry Training Organisation, and motivational safety speaker Dylan Skelhorn.

Des Moore said: “This event gives us the opportunity to talk directly with representatives from a wide range of businesses that procure scaffolding and access services. We’re keen to inform delegates of what the NASC is doing to further improve working practices across the scaffolding industry and also learn what challenges they face:

“We believe there is a lot of common ground between us and look forward to discussing how the standards and value offered by our members might help them best achieve their goals in an effective and efficient manner.”

The briefing will take place at the UK Chamber of Shipping, 30 Park Street, London, SE1 9EQ on Thursday 31 May, running from 8am to 10.30am.

The event is targeted at health and safety and procurement professionals from main contractors, local authorities and major housebuilders working across London and the South East.

A limited number of seats are still available. To register your interest in attending please contact Simon Robinson, NASC Marketing Manager, by email.

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First CISRS OSTS Scaffolding Supervisor Course Completed

First CISRS OSTS Scaffolding Supervisor Course Completed

A dozen experienced scaffolders have completed the first CISRS Overseas Scaffolder Training Scheme (OSTS) course delivered in Vietnam.

The operatives – comprising 11 men and one woman who have worked on sites throughout Asia – undertook the in-depth and information training at the AIS / Black Cat JSC Ltd CISRS-approved training centre in Vang Tau.

Thuyen Cao, Deputy Head of the Scaffold Department at Black Cat JSC Ltd, said: “It is great to see the introduction of an international scaffolding card scheme in Vietnam as this will bring scaffolding to new levels of safety and skills.”

Dave Mosley, CISRS Scheme Manager, added: “It’s excellent that AIS and Black Cat are forging ahead with CISRS OSTS training in Vietnam. They have been training steadily since gaining their accreditation to deliver scaffolding courses, predominantly Level 1 scaffolder and Scaffold Inspection and it is very positive that they have now added the Supervisors course to their programme.

“It is also worthy of note that Ms Chi Le has become their 2nd female scaffold inspector in as many months. Well done to all concerned.”

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NASC’S Scaffolding Safety Report Reveals On-Site Accidents Fell to Record Low

NASC’S Scaffolding Safety Report Reveals On-Site Accidents Fell to Record Low

The number of accidents and injuries recorded by NASC members fell to an all-time low in 2017, with just 89 incidences occurring on-site throughout the year.

The figure was revealed in the NASC 2018 Safety Report, which documents and analyses accident and injury statistics for its full contracting members – representing more than 16,000 scaffolding operatives across the UK – in the previous calendar year.

For the fifth year running, the NASC is able to report a fatality-free year. The number of injuries and accidents in 2017 fell to a new low, continuing a decades-long general trend in ever-reducing incidences. This downward trend corresponds with long-standing efforts to improve health and safety and training in the scaffolding industry, one of the NASC’s core commitments.

The NASC Safety Report reveals there were just 17 major injuries recorded in 2017, down 37% from 27 in 2016, and 89 incidences in total, down from 96 in 2016.

There was also a 46% reduction in falls from height and 36% reduction in manual handling injuries year-on-year. Additionally, no members of the public were injured around NASC member scaffolds in 2017.

Des Moore, CEO of TRAD Group and NASC President, said: “The 2018 Safety Report shows how workplace accidents can be reduced through compliance with industry safety standards and adherence to NASC guidance.

“It is very encouraging to see that the number of accidents recorded by NASC members fell to a record low in 2017, continuing a long-established downward trend dating back many decades that corresponds with a gradual rise of awareness and implementation of on-site health and safety practices, which continues to this day.

“It is particularly pleasing to look at how far our members have come in just the past five years, with the number of reported incidents having fallen 34 per cent from the 2012 figure (134 to 89) and the incidence and frequency rates both down by more than 40 per cent.

“There is more work to be done, however. For the 13th consecutive year, slips, trips and falls on the same level was the most common cause of accident and injury – representing a third of all reported injuries. This type of incident can easily lead to serious injury or even fatality and as such is something we’ll continue to seek to address.”

Robin James, NASC Managing Director, added: “The NASC is committed to driving up safety standards in access and scaffolding, and firmly believes in the need for accountability and transparency, which is why we go to such lengths to compile and publish the Safety Report each year.

“The data validates our wider efforts to help our members maintain the highest possible standards, enabling them to keep their contracted operatives safe on construction sites across the UK.”

NASC full contracting members are required to submit a detailed accident return as a requirement of membership. The NASC Safety Report is compiled from this data and includes:

  • Injuries and fatalities to operatives, third parties and members of the public
  • Accident types
  • Detailed analysis of accidents

To read the NASC 2018 Safety Report click here: https://goo.gl/BB8nMN

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NASC Supports No Falls Foundation

NASC Supports No Falls Foundation

The NASC is proud to support the No Falls Foundation, a new charity dedicated exclusively to the work at height sector.

The new charity, launched at the Health & Safety Event, aims to have a positive influence on all those involved in work at height through the provision of education, research and support.

It has been backed by the 11 member organisations of the Access Industry Forum, which includes the NASC.

Ken Johnson, NASC Technical Advisor, said: “We are delighted to offer our support to the No Falls Foundation, a charity that mirrors our long-standing commitment to increasing safety in the construction industry.”

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Focus on Health and Safety at NEC

Focus on Health and Safety at NEC

The NASC promoted the importance of working safely at height at the Health & Safety Event, held at the NEC, Birmingham, last week.

The NASC exhibited alongside its fellow Access Industry Forum members, giving advice and guidance to delegates throughout the three-day show.

Stephen Allen-Tidy, NASC Health and Safety Advisor, and Ken Johnson, NASC Technical Advisor, manned the NASC stand, while Ken and fellow NASC representative Simon Hughes also contributed to daily Working at Height & Preventing Falls Q&A sessions.

Allen-Tidy said: “It was really useful to engage with a wide range of health and safety professionals from across the construction industry, providing them with scaffolding and access safety and technical advice and answering any questions they may have.

“The show also gave us the opportunity to come together with the other bodies that form the Access Industry Forum to promote the wider message of ensuring working at height safely is always a primary consideration.”

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NASC Bolsters Team Through Marketing Manager Appointment

NASC Bolsters Team Through Marketing Manager Appointment

The National Access & Scaffolding Confederation has strengthened its communications capabilities through the appointment of a new in-house marketing manager.

Simon Robinson brings a wealth of construction marketing and copywriting expertise to the NASC team, having previously held various marketing agency and news desk positions in his career.

In his new role as NASC Marketing Manager, Simon will work to strengthen ties and increase engagement with both NASC members and the wider construction industry.

The 34-year-old said: “I am delighted to join the NASC and am looking forward to developing and implementing a communications strategy that will help increase awareness of the Confederation’s primary objectives; to help our members grow safer businesses and contribute to a safer construction industry.”

Robin James, NASC Managing Director, added: “I am pleased to welcome Simon to the team. Through his appointment we will be able engage more closely with our 250+ members and communicate more effectively with the wider scaffolding and construction industries.

“This will enable us to increase understanding and appreciation of a number of key messages, including the various benefits available directly to businesses through attaining NASC membership or indirectly through utilising the services of NASC members, as well as our ongoing commitment to raising and maintaining the highest standards for access and scaffolding throughout the UK and beyond.”