What scaffolding is there?
Scaffolding is a building structure that is erected for a limited period of time from various components in a suitable manner for different kinds of use. Scaffolding is used for work, support and protection, and can take the form of façade, room or mobile scaffolding. Depending on the load-bearing system, we refer to standing, suspended or bracket scaffolding. Mobile work platforms are very similar to scaffolding, but are governed by different standards.
Who is allowed to erect scaffolding?
The basic rule is that scaffolding may only be erected, taken down and converted by appropriately qualified and experienced employees under expert supervision. Further details largely depend on whether the scaffolding is subject to standards DIN EN 12811 or DIN 4420-3, or whether DIN EN 1004-1 applies. The first two standards cover “large” scaffolding, which must be planned, calculated and erected by appropriately trained personnel.
For mobile and folding scaffolding which, as mobile work platforms from prefabricated components, are covered by DIN EN 1004-1, all work must be supervised and performed by persons with sufficient expertise to ensure that this work is carried out safely and correctly. Workers must be given appropriate training.
What other mobile scaffolding is there?
Another kind of mobile scaffolding is known as small scaffolding. Small scaffolding has a similar structure to scaffolding, consists of a platform with a fixed length and width, and is free-standing. Their maximum overall or platform height is limited to 2.00 m. In Germany, small scaffolding used to be regulated by BGR 173, but this was withdrawn by the industrial trade associations many years ago. Work on an international standard for small scaffolding commenced in 2021. It will take some time, however, before the finished standard is published.
What are the requirements for small scaffolding?
The latest standards currently applicable to small scaffolding in Germany differ from DIN EN 1004-1 for mobile work platforms in several significant aspects. For small scaffolding, safety railings are generally not required up to a platform height of 1.0 m. Over a platform height of 1.0 m, a handrail on all sides is required, as a minimum. While mobile work platforms in accordance with DIN EN 1004-1 require an inner ladder, i.e. inside the structure, an outer ladder is permitted for small scaffolding. To ensure outer ladders have protection against falling, the manufacturer must prove that test requirements have been met. Although small scaffolding is relatively easy to erect and dismantle, the manufacturer must supply instructions for assembly and use, which must contain all the safety requirements for proper use, erection, conversion and dismantling, as well as for transport and storage.
Who is allowed to test / approve scaffolding?
Inspection / Approval
For the erection of scaffolding, the person carrying out this work must have the scaffolding they have erected checked by a person qualified to perform inspections. Supervision and checking may be carried out by one person, if suitable, or by different people. These persons must be familiar with the latest standards and requirements for scaffolding construction. Expertise must be demonstrated by a professional or comparable qualification. As a rule of thumb, the more complex the scaffolding, the more demanding the requirements for expertise.
Mobile work platforms must also be checked by a person qualified to perform inspections after their assembly and before use. In particular, the correct function of handrails, braking castors and the appropriate ballast for the type and location of the structure must be checked and documented by a person qualified to perform inspections. Employees must have the appropriate expertise and experience and be trained for this work.
The standards for work scaffolding can be found in DIN EN 12810 – Façade scaffolds made of prefabricated components – and DIN EN 12811 – Temporary works equipment. Further regulations are found in DIN 4420 – Service and working scaffolds. Falsework is subject to DIN EN 12812 – Falsework – Performance requirements and general design – and DIN EN 12813 – Temporary works equipment – Load bearing towers of prefabricated components – Particular methods of structural design. Mobile work platforms of prefabricated components (= mobile / folding scaffolding) are governed by the DIN EN 1004 series of standards. In addition, the regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG), the Occupational Safety Act (ASIG), the Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (BetrSichV, regulation on health and safety in the use of work equipment), and the Construction Site Regulation on Health and Safety on Construction Sites must be observed. Actual instructions for handling protective equipment during construction can be found in the Technical Rules for Occupational Safety (TRBS 2121) and the Workplace Regulations (ASR A2.1).
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