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Scaffolding safety

Yesterday saw a major scaffolding collapse in Reading, Berkshire, in which three people were injured. Investigations are still ongoing and luckily in the UK scaffolding collapses are rare. 

By following simple precautions, including suitable and sufficient risk assessment, the use of scaffolding should be a relatively low risk activity.


  • make sure the scaffold is erected by a competent person;

  • get properly trained by a qualified person before using a scaffold;

  • ensure that a competent person has inspected it before getting on a scaffold;

  • always wear a hard hat on or around, including under, a scaffold;

  • be mindful of others on the scaffold at all times;

  • always wear fall arrest systems correctly.


  • leave anything on the scaffold at the end of your shift;

  • overload the scaffold;

  • use boxes or ladders to increase you work height;

  • use the scaffold if it appears damaged in any way, or if there are any missing parts;

  • walk on scaffold in ice, wind, snow or muddy conditions;

  • climb on any part of a scaffold not intended for climbing on.

This list of Do’s and Don’ts are aimed at those starting to think about the possible risks.

The HSE has a good scaffold checklist and other useful information on its website. Use it. 

Update 4 August 2019:

The investigation into the incident in Reading is still ongoing. It is not known what caused the incident at this time nor is it clear what systems were in place. 

When an incident like this hits the national headlines, it causes the general population, who may often be averse to health and safety in general, to talk about it. There have been suggestions on social media that this article is preying on accidents for our own gain. That is not the purpose of it. It was written to add to the wider debate about scaffold safety and health & safety in general.

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