As we’ve made progress in both the domestic and industrial world – moving upward hasn’t been only confined to as a trend. Moving upward (or vertical) has become the norm – it signifies growth, delineates sense of space and accomplishment.
Similarly, in construction engineering and industries, ‘vertical spaces’ occupy a special status. Commercial, residential or industrial spaces have always tried to come up with better ways to explore and use vertical spaces.
And this is precisely where the concept of ‘work at height’ emerges. Scaffolding systems – ranging from tube and fittings to modern cup lock and ring lock have become the pivots of vertical growth. One, which stands as a testament to human ingenuity and engineering.
Scaffolding has a crucial role in modern day development, as it enables
- Construction and engineering domain
- Maintenance and industrial upkeep
- All work at height operations
- Onshore and offshore engineering and maintenance
Let us look at some of the numbers which reinforce this statement –
More than 70% of construction projects in the U.S employ scaffolding. Across the world with the construction sector enjoying a boom in the middle east and a decent turnover in Asia – it is safe to say nearly 50% of these projects employ modern scaffolding system.
And at the same instance, some of the leading causes of occupational injuries includes, work at height as the major cause. While these modern-day build projects, industrial maintenance operations and associated activities are controlled by the organization itself – scaffolding operations are more often handled by contractors.
Therefore, a selection criterion which considers and places utmost importance to planning and safe execution of scaffolding operations becomes sacrosanct.
Organizations engage and employ scaffolding contractors as it is material, workforce and know-how intensive job. Sometimes, they’ve little to no idea about how their specific work at height or construction activity can be fulfilled by a competent scaffolding contractor.
Here are some of the pointers or selection criteria that we’ve compiled – to help understand, analyze and take decision on choosing the right scaffolding contractor for your operations.
Take a look at the radial diagram which depicts a competency map for selecting scaffolding contractor.
Material Quality is an essential point which would ensure the resilience and translate into superior work when the scaffolding material is being used to facilitate work. It should be compliant to EN or BS standards which define, identify and ensure that the material in-use is fit for its proposed purpose. Basic Q and A with the scaffolding contractor can help yield these insights.
Competent workforce is the next element on whose shoulders a successful build or maintenance operation rests upon. A key point to keep in mind is to ensure that the workforce has ample knowledge of different types of scaffolding systems. This identifies their skill and a certified scaffolder can demonstrate competency rather than an uncertified (but experienced) scaffolder. Several qualifications and certification exist in scaffolding stream which can help you choose the right combination of knowledge, skill and competency.
Systemic knowledge is the know-how of different systems which make modern safe scaffolding. Cup lock, ring lock and tube (pipe) and fittings constitute these systems. A crucial thing to point out is that these systems are disciplines in their own – know-how and working knowledge is therefore, not necessarily, interchangeable. Proper certification ensures that the person is competent in that particular system of scaffolding. Due to their nature and purpose, it is best to keenly investigate and ask the contractor to elaborate on their set of expertise. Inter-domain or discipline knowledge only goes as far as the basic functions – when it comes to complex builds, erection and dismantling – specific knowledge and skillset within the different systems becomes critical.
Safety Information highlights the part where all of the above points are enlisted, prepared into reference checklists, documented within SOPs and procedures. These are then made available to the workforce and used as reference at each and every step of the scaffolding operations. Another critical input is the incident record of the scaffolding contractor – they should have a method and defined procedure to document and evaluate incidents that have occurred. This provides insights into their safety track record.
Management review systems are becoming increasingly useful – under ideal conditions, scaffolding contractors should’ve a management review system which can act as a compass not only for them but also the potential contractual organization in the future.