Last month a safety alert was issued about defective fittings. This small but significant event highlights the challenge facing access and scaffolding contractors. Trust and reliability are crucial ingredients in achieving quality and with millions of components in use every day, having the confidence in access and scaffolding products is vital.
What this issue highlighted is the need to strengthen traceability within the supply chain, and the importance of obtaining the appropriate Certificates of Conformity. Independent evidence from approved testing facilities gives greater confidence about the quality of
products that are being bought, especially when erecting structures that are not just business critical but, more importantly, safety critical.
There is no doubt that standards have improved but the access and scaffolding sector needs to redouble its effort to ensure that standards of quality continue to grow and that quality can be clearly demonstrated with independent audits. Not just for contractors but also suppliers. Be wary of claims that are not backed by third party independent evidence.
The Association’s strategy is to embrace a broad cross section of our sector and help members to access new opportunities and grow their businesses. This led us to offer a staircase approach to membership where you can progress from an Associate to an Assessed Member and then to an Audited Member.
We are encouraging all our members to raise standards and while the Audited level may not suit every business, it is a target for everyone to aspire to, as it encourages members to look at how they operate and what procedures they have in place.
Working alongside client groups, such as local authorities, main contractors and housebuilders, we are also seeking to increase awareness of how the access and scaffolding supply chain operates. We have been working with client organisations to develop and improve their procurement practices and the scaffold specifications they use. This has great potential to create more tender opportunities for members and will also encourage members to focus on developing skills so that they can meet client expectations.
Finally, there are regulation changes that may have unintended consequences. The potential impact of the HSE’s security alert could mean contractors have to provide additional measures, such as hoardings. It is essential that members consider regulatory and guidance changes carefully and don’t commit to a scope of works that could leave them exposed to providing more than they thought was necessary.