What’s changing with BS 5975?

BSI has published a new edition of BS 5975:2019, Code of practice for temporary works procedures and the permissible stress design of falsework. The standard has been updated to take account of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, particularly in respect of the interface between the design of permanent works and the design of temporary works. Robert Candy, chief executive at the Scaffolding Association, highlights some key points that scaffolding contractors may need to consider.

The long-awaited update to BS 5975 is here. It should be noted that the changes in this revision affect Sections 1 and 2 only, and that Section 3 remains unchanged. That said, with the sections that cover procedures extended from 15 pages to 49 pages, you might expect drastic changes. However, with the exception of a new duty holder and information when dealing with Domestic Clients, little has changed.

The update contains more detail about organisational procedures and the interface on-site with details of roles and responsibilities specific to the duty holder within an organisation. Where the previous version generalised in its outcomes, the new update adds clarification to organisational and duty holder requirements. For example: – Every organisation involved in temporary works should have a designated individual responsible for: a) establishing, implementing and maintaining a procedure for the control of temporary works for that organisation. – When a project has, or might be anticipated to have, the requirement for any temporary works, all organisations involved in the management of the temporary works, whether implemented by themselves or others, should have and implement a procedure which outlines how they are to discharge their duties in relation to the temporary works.

Duty holders’ roles

The update contains more detailed information relating to the duty holders’ responsibilities specific to the type of organisation for which they undertake their role. The additional duty holder identified is the Principal Contractor’s Temporary Works Coordinator (PC’s TWC). The introduction of this role means there can be more than one Temporary Works Coordinator (TWC) on a project. The PC’s TWC is responsible for the implementation of temporary works procedures and checking that other contractors who are directly or indirectly engaged on the project are implementing their procedures.

This creates an opportunity for Scaffold Contracting companies to undertake the role of TWC and manage the temporary works process themselves. Although they would report to the PC’s TWC, it should speed up the design brief, alterations, design checking and drawing approval process, providing that the company has the required qualified temporary works duty holders and organisational procedures in place. Companies will need to check with their insurance broker that they have the required insurance to undertake the role of TWC.

The types of project where this approach may be implemented could be small works packages with multiple locations, and maintenance or refurbishment projects where scaffolding is the only temporary works discipline being undertaken.

Organisational procedures

Over the last decade there have been major changes to working practices. The growth of specialist sub-contracting across most construction works means it has become necessary for BS 5975 to reflect all types of working practices. The update provides scope for the interface between the duty holders and organisations to be structured in a way that suits the project.

This allows for the interface on-site to be segregated where required. An example would be on a new-build housing site where an existing building had to be demolished/shored or retained for planning consent. The area could be demarked and a different site/temporary works management team and Scaffolding Contractor used for each area.

The update provides more detail about the procedures required for organisations. Information for Clients, Principal Designers (PD), Temporary Works Designers (TWD) and Manufacturers/Suppliers is now specific to their organisation. This will clarify the information that is required from all organisations to simplify the procurement of competent companies. Competent companies will provide contractors with the information required – if a contractor has to ask for information, it could imply the company doesn’t know what is required.

The standard now details a list of information that should be included in the temporary works register, which should help organisations involved in the process provide the relevant information to populate the register.


The standard has also been updated to align with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and the procedures now allow other contractors to plan and manage their own temporary works while ensuring that the Principal Contractor retains overall responsibility.


BS 5975:2019 now provides recommendations for education and training. It is good to see that these relate to practical understanding of the works being undertaken and the procedures and process of control required to undertake the work safely.

Domestic clients

Expectations for projects involving Domestic Clients are included in the update and take into account that the site would have a trade-based supervisor handling the day-to-day site temporary works.

Whoever takes on the duties of the Client and Contractor should have a suitable temporary works management procedure to suit the complexity of the project. This should incorporate their own duties as well as the Clients’ duties relating to temporary works as outlined in this document. The various duty holders should carry out their duties in proportion to the risks involved in the project.

The update has given scope for better management of projects large and small but still reinforces that, irrespective of the complexity of the project, the same basic procedures should be followed.

Robert Candy

Chief executive

Scaffolding Association