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Storms Expose Scaffold Inadequacies

19th November 2015

The second named storm within the space of a week has contributed to the collapse of several scaffolds across the UK.

Storm ‘Barney’ followed closely behind Storm Abigail and brought wind speeds of up to 85 mph across some parts of the country and with this came the all-too-familiar news of scaffolds collapsing at an alarming rate.


The headlines that cover these stories often cite wind as being the root cause of these failures and overlook the fact that a well-anchored scaffold will withstand the very worst conditions thrown at it by the British weather. Granted, high winds are the one of the direct causes of scaffold failures in these instances, but with some pre-planning and consideration of of the industry guidance that is available, almost all are preventable.

The primary standards that consider scaffold stability for UK scaffolds are the NASC publications TG20:13 ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Good Practice for Tube and Fitting Scaffolding’ and TG4:19 ‘Anchorage Systems for Scaffolding’. Both standards provide high levels of detail to ensure scaffold stability and adhering to the recommendations therein will ensure scaffolds remain stable.


TG20:13 provides a range of ‘compliant’ or ‘non-complex’ scaffolds and the TG20 eGuide will produce compliance sheets that confirm bespoke design is not required and also provides detail on the quantity and capability requirements of the ties, based on the area in which it is constructed and the topography of the land upon which the scaffold is situated.

Scaffolds requiring bespoke design, i.e. those outside the scope of TG20:13, should be constructed in strict accordance with the Design Engineer’s specification and the detail provide should also include tie locations, loadings and test requirements. For more on scaffold design requirements, please refer to this link.

In addition to design and build requirements for scaffolding, scaffold users should also ensure that a thorough  inspection regime is implemented as this will assist in identifying any issues that could contribute towards scaffold instability. Independent inspections are preferred and they should be carried out by individuals not involved in the erection works.

Consideration of the points above will ensure that when storms Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank, Gertrude and Henry etc arrive, you’ll be well prepared for what they bring!

Simian clients requiring further advice on scaffold stability are free to contact their Account Manager on 0345 602 2418. (Option 1)