Who is responsible when it comes to scaffolds?
The answer to the question about who has responsibility is that there can be several responsible parties, and the provisions about scaffolds are about responsibility of many different kinds. The ones mentioned here are not exhaustive – see the Swedish Work Environment Authority’s provisions about scaffolds (AFS 2013:4Eng) for more information.
Placing scaffolds onto the market for sale
Those scaffolds that are placed onto the Swedish market must be safe. The only way to show that they are safe is if they fulfil the requirements in the provisions about scaffolds. Manufacturers, importers and distributors are responsible for the scaffolds doing just this.
For prefabricated scaffolds and couplers to tube and coupler scaffolds, this means that they must be type examined. A completed type examination entails that the product (the scaffold, the components of the scaffold or the coupling) is scrutinised by an accredited certification body, and that the certification body found that the product fulfilled applicable requirements. The body shall then issue a type examination certificate.
The technical demands appear in Annex 1 in the provisions about scaffolds (AFS 2013:4Eng). The requirements are – as far as possible – connected to the EN standards, which are standards that have been jointly developed for the European market. Due to differences in climate, working methods, and the design between different countries, there are also a number of possible options in the standards. The aim of this is that one or more of the alternatives shall be chosen for a certain country. In Annex 1 is stated how these possibilities shall be applied in Sweden.
Annex 2 in the provisions about scaffolds (AFS 2013:4Eng) states what information shall be in a type examination certificate. The certificates, as well as a large part of the background material for it (test reports, calculations etc.) shall naturally be in Swedish. On the other hand, the type examination does not have to be done by a Swedish certification body – it can also be carried out by another body that has corresponding accreditation within the EEA, but the requirements (the technical as well as the formal) must be fulfilled. The products must also have, at the very least, an equivalent safety level.
Provision of scaffolds
A very common way to provide a scaffold is to erect it and then hire it out to a user. The companies that do this professionally are primarily scaffolding entrepreneurs.
Those who erect scaffolding must plan the work and make sure that:
- the work with erecting the scaffolding is carried out in a safe way
- the scaffolding is examined at the latest before it is handed over
- make sure that the scaffold offers a good work environment for those who must use it.
Alternative a) primarily means that those who erect the scaffolding are protected against falls from height and musculoskeletal disorders, and that they have the knowledge and the training necessary for the work. They shall also cordon off the scaffold during the work and develop a plan for the erection, use and dismantling.
When the scaffold is ready and shall be handed over according to b), it shall be checked so that it is correctly built and functions well. The checks shall be documented in specific documentation. When the scaffolding is handed over, the plan and a number of other documents must be included.
Before one begins to erect the scaffold, the party who is providing the scaffold must make sure that the scaffold is suitable for the work that is to be carried out. This builds, however, upon the information he or she received from the party who ordered the scaffold, most often the user. The scaffold shall, of course, always be correctly designed.
Those who use a scaffold for carrying out work, or as protection against falls from height during roof work or similar, are responsible for doing it in the correct way. It is not permitted to overload the scaffolding working deck or to load several working levels at the same time, if the scaffold is not designed for it.
One may also not remove stabilising or other necessary components from the scaffold. The guardrail can, however, be temporarily dismantled to, for example, bring in building material, if it is closely monitored and, in general, done in a safe way.
It is particularly important that material is organised in a well-thought-out way on the scaffold. There have been serious accidents when one has loaded material onto the scaffold with a telescopic truck crane and destabilised the scaffold so that parts of it have collapsed.
During the check that the provider carries out before it is signed over, the user shall, if possible, participate, so that he or she can make sure that the scaffolding is suitable for the work to be carried out. The documents that the provider hands over shall remain at the workplace. If the scaffolding is to be used by several companies on a construction site, the documentation shall also be handed over to the construction work environment coordinator for execution, BAS-U. The user shall later continually check the scaffolding during the time it is in use.
A special situation is when a user erects a scaffold in order to use it themselves. He or she is then responsible both for the provisions that applies to erecting the scaffold, as well as for the provisions that applies to using the scaffold.
Another situation is when a user allows other companies to carry out work from the scaffold. They are then providers and must follow the specific rules that apply when providing a scaffold.
Others with responsibility
Type examination is carried out by an accredited certification body. These bodies are responsible for the type examination being carried out in the correct way, and also have responsibility for handing over the documents to the manufacturer/supplier, and upon request, also to the supervisory authority (the Swedish Work Environment Authority).
The construction work environment coordinator must, upon request, provide information about the conditions of the ground where the scaffolding will be placed and about the facades etc. to which the scaffolding shall be anchored. The construction work environment coordinator must also provide a number of documents for scaffolding that shall be used by several companies.
Sanctions for scaffolding
Sanction fee – type examination
If one places prefabricated scaffolds, components for prefabricated scaffolds, and couplers onto the market without them being type examined, the sanction fee increases to 2000 kronor for each individual component delivered. There is, however, a maximum 100 000 kronor for each delivery occasion. The sanction fee shall be paid by the party who placed the product onto the market. See 10 § in the Swedish Work Environment Authority’s provisions about scaffolding (AFS 2013:4Eng).
Sanction fee - training
If one allows their employee to erect, make significant modifications, or dismantle scaffolds or encapsulation construction without having the necessary training, the sanction fee increases to 5 000 – 20 000 kronor per employee, depending upon the training required. Sometimes two different types of training are needed, and if both are lacking, two sanction fees must be paid. The sanction fee shall be paid by the employer whose staff lack the necessary training.
Apprentices can, under certain conditions, participate in the work without complete training.
The requirement for training for those who erect, significantly modify or dismantle encapsulation construction came into force on 1 January 2016.
See 47 § and Annex 3 in the provisions about scaffolds (AFS 2013:4Eng).
Sanction fees – risks for falls from height
Sanction fees can also be imposed if one works without being protected against risks of falls from height. These can be pertinent during the erection, significant modification and dismantling of scaffolding and encapsulation construction, as well as with the use of scaffolds. These sanction fees are not in the provisions about scaffolds, but in the provisions (AFS 1999:3) about building and civil engineering work, 60a §. The size of the sanction fee can vary between 40 000 and 400 000 kronor depending upon the number of employees within the company. The sanction fee shall be paid by the employer whose staff are subjected to risks of falls from height.
See 60a § in the provisions about building and civil engineering work (AFS 1999:3Eng).
A prerequisite for a sanction fee being imposed is that the work is considered building and civil engineering work. If, for example, a scaffold or encapsulation construction is erected within a building or civil engineering project, the work of erecting the scaffold is also building and civil engineering work.
It is important that one follows the regulations in the provisions about scaffolds, as well as those in other applicable provisions in the Swedish Work Environment Authority’s statute book. If a work environment inspector states that the regulations are not being followed, for example in connection with an inspection, the employer can be affected by injunctions and bans, often with a penalty.
If a safety representative discovers a serious risk at a workplace, he or she can stop the work until a work environment inspector has assessed whether the work can continue, possibly with demands for measures.
Last updated 2016-09-21