Questions and answers about scaffolding
Why is it no longer possible to rent out old scaffolds?
Old scaffolds may be rented out, but only if they are covered by a type examination certificate. If one has not had them type examined, they may not be provided (for example rented out), from 1 January 2016. This requirement is because many old scaffolds (that have not later been type examined) have a significantly lower safety level.
Is it acceptable if a scaffold has been type examined in another EEA country?
In principle, yes, but one must check that the scaffold really has been type examined in another EEA country. The type examination certificate must, for example, be issued by an accredited body. It must also include an annual follow-up check, and be designed with the same safety levels (technical requirements) as according to our provision about scaffolds (AFS 2013:4Eng). The type examination certificate and instructions must be in Swedish, and the background documents (for example calculations and test reports), must be in Swedish or English. The suppliers of the scaffolding must have access to these documents.
Many type controlled scaffolds look the same and fit one another – does this mean they are compatible with each other?
No, one cannot intermix them just like that. They could very well have different resistance qualities or different thicknesses, and the rigidity between the components can also vary. To be able to mix different brands, one must first carry out an investigation which shows they can be mixed and retain satisfactory safety.
What requirements apply for those who arrange training for erecting, significantly modifying, and dismantling scaffolds?
The training can be arranged by companies and individuals who know the area well and are good pedagogues. The Swedish Work Environment Authority does not have any formal requirements about them, and one does not have to make a formal report about the activities.
In many upper secondary schools’ building programs, ’general training about scaffolding’ is included, but unfortunately not in all. You must find this out from the school concerned. The grade must state that this training is included in order for it to apply as proof of training in this field.
If you have lost your certificate of training, you cannot obtain a new one from the Swedish Work Environment Authority. We do not have any lists or directory of who has completed the training. You will need to contact the body that issued the certificate of training.
The Swedish Work Environment Authority has no regulations about how long the training is valid but the training organiser can state that it is only valid for a certain length of time. If the regulations for the area are amended, one can need to supplement the training.
Where does the boundary lie between participating and not participating in the work of erecting, significantly modifying or dismantling scaffolding?
For example, the following work tasks require scaffold training:
- Standing on the ground and passing components to those who are higher up on the scaffold.
- Hitching components to hoisting equipment on the scaffold in order to lift them up onto the scaffold.
One can, for example, carry out the following tasks without formal scaffolding education:
- Laying components on the ground beside the scaffold.
- Putting components down on the ground, for example with a crane.
- Putting components down on the scaffold, for example with a crane.
Which modifications to a scaffold are significant and which are not significant?
The following work is, for example, significant:
- Changing the scaffold’s global bearing or stabilising system - for example, taking away or moving the scaffold anchors, diagonal bracing, horizontal bracing or other components that are needed for the rigidity of the scaffold.
- Moving the platform level, consoles etc. to another level.
The following work is, for example, not significant:
- To temporarily dismantle a limited part of a guardrail or a toeboard, for example in order to transport material.
- To locally move a scaffold (most often mobile access towers or room scaffolds) even if possible support legs must be lifted somewhat.
- To replace damaged planks and decking.
What applies for wooden scaffolds and components of wood (planks, duckboards and rails)?
For wooden scaffolds, special training is necessary for those who will erect, modify or dismantle the scaffolding. Furthermore, special documents are required, which show that the scaffolding has satisfactory resistance and stability with the highest anticipated load. Such documents almost always consist of calculations. For wooden scaffolding there is no type configurations so one must normally draw these up for each instance.
Duckboard must always be fastened to the gantry at both ends. Many accidents occur when, for example, duckboard slides or wobbles. On the outside of the scaffold, the toeboard can be used to fasten the duckboard, but at the other end one must do it in another way.
Working decks of wooden planks must always be connected to each other by means of so called yokes. The working deck becomes much stronger if it is yoked and one can, for example, not have such large bearing length on them if they are not yoked. We also have many accidents because planks slide or break. If the plank lies wrapped around then it is enough to fasten them at the ends of the scaffold.
If you have rails of wooden girders or slats, you need to design them so that they hold and do not bend out too much.
What protection against falls from height is necessary when one erects, modifies or dismantles scaffolds?
If you use a scaffold where the rail is erected from below, personal fall protection equipment is not necessary, on condition that principle guardrails and intermediate guardrails are in place when you get to the next level.
If you use a temporary guardrail system that is erected at a lower level and later lifted up to the next level, you do not need to use personal fall protection equipment on condition that the guardrail system has principle and intermediate guardrails.
If you build scaffolding in another way, and the rail is not in place on a level from the beginning, you must use personal fall protection equipment until the principle and intermediate guardrails are erected.
Toeboards must be erected as soon as possible thereafter, and be in place before the scaffold is handed over.
What means of access must there be on a scaffold?
It depends on what the scaffold looks like – but in facade scaffolding and other scaffolds that are mounted fast, it must normally be stairs. It is very seldom that something else is acceptable. In large scaffolds, several sets of stairs are needed and the distance between them must not be greater than 25 metres. Sometimes one can need an elevator in addition to the stairs. One must carry out a risk assessment, taking into consideration the following:
- the height to the working deck
- how comprehensive the work is
- how many people will be using the access routes
The provision about building and civil engineering work can be of support during assessment of whether an elevator is necessary.
In mobile access towers, this depends upon the height from the ground to the highest level of the mobile access tower – if it is a maximum of 2.5 metres, a vertical ladder is sufficient. With greater heights it must be a leaning (non self-supporting) ladder, stepladder or stairs. One must choose that which is necessary for the work that will be carried out. During building and civil engineering work there must normally be stairs as a means of access but not always, depending on the time the work will take and the height to the working deck.
When one uses a scaffold as fall protection instead of putting a guardrail on a roof base or the eaves, how must the guardrail look?
The rail must be at least one metre high (1000 mm), and one measures the height perpendicularly towards the roof surface or roof surface extension (if the roof surface leans outwards). If one can also stand on the scaffolding, the rail must be at least 950mm over the working deck.
If the scaffold is only going to serve as a protection against falls from the roof, the working deck must be near the roof base. If one must be able to go directly between the roof surface and the working deck, the distance can be a little larger, but not more than 40 – 50cm. If one must be able to stand on the working deck and work on the roof base, there needs to be at least 70cm difference, so that there is not too bad a working position. Remember then that a specific access route between the roof and the working deck is needed, and that the working deck can need to be reinforced to cope with a fall from the roof.
You normally need to have the scaffold the same length on each side as the distance from the upper part of the working area to the roof base.
What sanction fees can one be affected by and who must pay them?
In 10 § in the scaffold provisions, a sanction fee has been introduced for those who place scaffolding or scaffolding components onto the market, if they are not certified in the correct way. The sanction fees must be paid by whoever placed the product onto the market, often the manufacturer or the supplier.
In 47 § in the scaffold provisions, a sanction fee has been introduced for those who allow their employees to erect, significantly modify or dismantle scaffodling, if they cannot show documentation proving that they have the stipulated training. It is the employee’s employer who pays the sanction fee.
In the provisions about building and civil engineering work, there is a sanction fee if one works without being protected against the risks of falls from height. This only applies if the scaffolding or encapsulation construction must be used in building and civil engineering work, and one must use the regulations in the scaffold provisions when it applies to how the guardrail must be designed. This sanction fee must also be paid by the employer whose employees are not protected against risks of falls from height.