What is the impact of BS EN 131 part 1 2015 +A1 2019 on the scaffolding industry?
BS EN 131 was adopted by the scaffolding industry as the main standard for the specification of ladders used in scaffolding prior to this revision in 2019. Although this standard is very persuasive in court and represents an authoritative guide, in the Confederation’s opinion, it is not prescribed by a directive and therefore represents industry guidance only. However, BS EN 131 has served the industry well as a suitable specification for professional scaffolding ladders, until this latest revision.
Existing scaffolding ladders in good condition do not need to be replaced and can continue to be used in scaffolding.
The current industry standards and guidance for the design and use of access and scaffolding (e.g. TG20, SG25 etc) cites BS EN 131 for the specification of ladders (versions current at the time of publication).
The scope of the new annexed (+A1) version (2019) to the BS EN 131 standard states, “This standard does not apply to portable ladders which by their design and instructions are intended and limited only for a specific professional use and as a result are not for general professional or nonprofessional”.
The NASC considers that straight one-piece leaning ladders intended only for use as a means of access and egress within scaffolding structures are deemed as ‘specific professional use’.
However, until this annex revision was introduced, the scaffolding industry has benefited from the scope of EN 131 general professional ladders being deemed suitable for scaffolding and this standard represented the nearest comparable specification for professional scaffolding ladders. Something that may or may not have been considered by the CEN committee in drafting these changes.
The 2019 annex introduces a new base dimension calculation (formula) for ‘rung leaning ladders’ in table 2 for stability. The intended use of these general professional ladders is as freestanding ladders, whereas, scaffolding ladders are intended to be stabilised by securely tying them at or near the top.
This new formula will not typically affect short ladders 3m or less in length, as most scaffolding ladders have a minimum width >340mm (plus the width of the stiles/feet). However, for ladders >3m and for manufacturers to claim EN 131+A1 compliance, the base dimension formula would need to apply, and therefore straight leaning rung ladders with an outside dimension wider than 450mm would not be suitable for scaffolding, rendering new ‘general professional use’ ladders unsuitable.
It is important to remember that the applicable legislation is above that of the British / European Standards, such as The Work at Height Regulations 2005 and The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
I have completed my online Application Form for Membership of the NASC.
What happens now?
Once we have received your application along with the application fee of £500 (plus VAT) our membership manager will conduct a desktop audit to ascertain if the information provided in your application meets NASC criteria.
Once the application has passed the desktop audit stage you will be contacted to arrange a date for an onsite audit (subject to receipt of site audit fee of £500 plus VAT). The site audit is to be conducted at your company premises and will include the visit to a number of your sites.
Once the auditing procedure has successfully been completed, your application for membership will be recommended for approval by NASC Council.
Assuming the application form is completed in full and the applicant meets all criteria. The application process in total should not exceed 3 months, from date of application through to membership approval.
If your application fails any part of the audit process your application will be returned to you for resubmission 12 months from notification of failure.
How much can I earn a week as a trainee?
Trainees can earn between £300-£600 per week. Once a trainee is fully qualified it is not uncommon for Part 2 qualified to earn £25,000 – £40,000 per annum. Advanced Scaffolders can earn £35,000 – £50,000 (subject to additional pay i.e. overtime/bonuses). Inner city and off shore operatives can potentially earn even more.
What qualifications do I need?
Ideally, you will need to have a reasonable understanding of Maths, English and Science to get on to a training programme and then to progress afterwards.
What additional training is available?
Well-structured training is available from NASC member companies together with the CITB – Construction Industry Training Board and recognised private training providers throughout the country. With the help of the CITB, the NASC administers the CISRS – Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Card Scheme.
Who will teach me?
Professional scaffolders and trainers on site, and recognised training providers.
Can I go straight into trainee management?
Yes. You do not necessarily need to start “on the tools”.
How safe is it?
NASC member companies have an excellent safety record which has improved year on year, every year since 1977.
What IT positions are available?
Many Access and Scaffolding companies use CAD design software to help with complex construction projects. CAD designers are therefore in great demand.
How good are the promotion prospects?
In a word, “excellent!” Such is the growth in the construction industry that there are simply not enough skilled people to fill all the positions. So the more you are prepared to train and work, the quicker you will get on.
CISRS Card Queries
If you are a scaffolder and have a specific query regarding your CISRS card please click here to be redirected to the CISRS website which answers a large number of general queries.
How do I know if a scaffolder is competent to carry out the work?
The law requires that individual operatives be competent in scaffold erection, dismantling and alteration. The easiest way to prove competence as a scaffolder is to be a holder of a Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) Card.
A CISRS card holder will be accepted as being competent to carry out scaffolding erection, dismantling and alteration as part of a scaffolding gang. Scaffolders should be required to produce a valid CISRS card prior to a project commencing.
The Validity of a CISRS card can be quickly confirmed by contacting the CISRS Helpline on 0870 417 7223
Who can supervise Scaffolding?
When considering the direct supervision of a scaffolding gang i.e. a working foreman, leading hand etc, the operative in this role must be qualified to the grade of CISRS Scaffolder as a minimum requirement.
For more complex scaffold structures, a CISRS Advanced Scaffolder must undertake direct supervision of the gang.
Supervision of a Scaffolding project/site as a whole (liaising with client, deploying operatives, estimating, inspection, pricing, H&S issues etc) must also be carried out by a competent person, however this may not necessarily be a CISRS qualified Scaffolder.
How is competence recognised for the supervision of scaffolding?
The UK Contractors Group (UKCG) have recently published some general guidance for the expected level of competence to be in place for persons in an active supervisory role on construction sites upon which their members have a principal contractors role from January 2010.
A copy of the guidance is available here.
The guidance outlines a syllabus which includes the basic fundamental aspects of health and safety within the construction related work place and the guide goes on to say that attendance of any such course to deliver the syllabus must be of at least two days duration.
The guidance also states that supervisors will need to demonstrate having attended training which includes an understanding of behavioural issues, leadership and effective intervention skills. This training must include delivering effective presentations (e.g. tool box talks), role-play, have a form of testing and successful candidates must be issued with a certificate to demonstrate a suitable standard has been achieved.
The NASC would like to inform members that there are several courses commercially available that meet the criteria and also confirm that the established 5 day CISRS Supervisors Course meets all of the above requirements fully for member’s employees that have already attended this training or plan to in the future.
The details of the CISRS Supervisors Course can be found within current CAP609 Guidance, available at www.cisrs.org.uk
The NASC would also like to clarify the role of a Supervisor as one of a person or persons that hold a non working or visiting role to the site(s) where scaffold operatives are working and to ensure aspects of safe working and quality control.
A supervisor’s role is not regarded as being one of a charge hand (or leading hand) that simply acts as the senior tradesman of any scaffold gang.
To download a copy of this statement please click here
Who is competent to inspect a scaffold?
Legislation specifies that anyone carrying out an inspection must be competent to do so. To be competent that person must have the necessary training, knowledge and experience.
As a minimum the NASC would recommend:
a) A CISRS Scaffolder cardholder would be deemed competent to inspect the scaffold structures that are covered in the CISRS Part 1 & Part 2 courses provided their employer can demonstrate they have the necessary knowledge and experience.
b) A CISRS Advanced Scaffolder cardholder would be deemed competent to inspect the scaffold structures that are covered in the CISRS Part 1, Part 2 & Advanced courses provided their employer can demonstrate they have the necessary knowledge and experience.
The contents and overall objectives of the CISRS courses can be found in the CAP 609 General Information Booklet Appendix A-C page 26-30. www.cisrs.org.uk
c) A CISRS Scaffolding Supervisor cardholder would be deemed competent to inspect the basic scaffold structures that are covered in the CISRS Part 1 and Part 2 courses provided their employer can demonstrate they have the necessary knowledge and experience. If they also hold an Advanced Scaffolders card, then they would be deemed competent to inspect advanced structures.
The content and overall objectives of the CISRS Scaffolding Supervisor course can be found in the CAP 609 General Information Booklet pages 16-17. http://www.cisrs.org.uk/CISRS_General_Information.htm
d) A person who has been on a Basic Scaffold Inspection Course * (min. two days) would be deemed competent to inspect a basic scaffold structure provided their employer can demonstrate they have the necessary knowledge and experience and they have passed the knowledge test at the end of the course.
This course is suitable for: Management/Supervision who are responsible for inspecting scaffolds and completing reports in accordance with the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Note: If candidates who have attended the Basic Course want to inspect more complex scaffolds, then they will need to complete the Advanced Course after they have gained sufficient experience inspecting Basic Scaffolds on a regular basis.
e) A person who has been on an Advanced Scaffold Inspection Course * (min. two days) would be deemed competent to inspect more complex scaffold structures provided their employer can demonstrate they have the necessary knowledge and experience and they have passed the knowledge test at the end of the course.
This course is suitable for: Experienced Scaffold Inspectors, Management/Supervision who are responsible for inspecting, commissioning and handing over scaffolds, and completing reports in accordance with the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
f) Persons who are required to carry out inspections of System Scaffolds must, in addition to the basic scaffold inspection course, attend an approved product training course for the specific system scaffold required and have their card endorsed with the product selected.
* Several CISRS approved training centres already offer Basic and Advanced Inspection training (both 2 days duration)
Note: Any competent person who is not carrying out scaffold inspections on a regular basis would need to consider additional refresher training.
To download a copy of this statement please click here