“Always read the label”
Only using genuine components should be a matter of great concern as Gary Griffiths, MD of UKSSH explains.
It may be one of the oldest grouses in the construction industry, but the need to flush out and banish bad copycat scaffold systems has as much to do with Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) and safe systems of work, as it does with commercial concerns.
I have no problem with fair competition and freedom of choice. Put me in a supermarket and I will buy own brand baked beans because I prefer their taste and may save a few pence. However, tell me that one tin in every thousand will contain a potentially harmful ingredient and would I make the same choice? Not a chance. A small cost saving would bear no weight against the potential risk to the lives of my family.
The same comparison can be applied to bad copycat access systems. They may at first look the same, they may be cheaper to buy or hire, - yet they could also contain potential flaws which can lead to the failure of scaffold and injury or even loss of life. That’s why UK System Scaffold Hire only use genuine HAKI components.
The lesson in both cases must be to “read the label” and consider just as much what it doesn’t say as what it does!
CDM Regulations place an emphasis on planning and managing risk throughout the construction process. Combine that with corporate manslaughter legislation and the construction industry should, by now, have sat up and taken notice.
The planning, erection and dismantling of scaffolding is subject to the same stringent CDM regulations as the permanent structure under construction.
To put it bluntly, regulations and legislation place an overriding burden on scaffold companies to prove that they have done everything reasonably possible to ensure that their designs are robust and the components they use are fit for purpose.
Given this imperative, it’s incredible how many scaffold companies supplement their stocks by hiring components which have no provenance.
Whether or not the decision to hire copycat systems is made unwittingly, do these contractors appreciate the real extent of the gamble they are taking? One weak component, one substandard weld, one length of tube made from an inferior steel, can compromise the integrity of an entire structure, possibly leading it to collapse with the result that lives can be lost.
UK System Scaffold Hire chose to be HAKI specialists because we know it provides significant time and cost savings on major projects where reliability and safety is paramount – for example where suspended scaffold is required or where temporary bridges are required to provide public access.
Scaffold can be suspended from the highest bridges or built to dizzying heights, and the technology to build in safety can never come cheaply. HAKI has invested enormously to provide peace of mind: even before a prototype is made, finite element analysis enables molecular stress levels to be analysed, so that optimum performance can be guaranteed while using the minimum quantity of metal. A combination which optimises strength while minimising the weight of each component.
HAKI has developed a unique ultra-high tensile steel which is lighter than comparable strength products and uses less recycled steel, making tubes more robust for welding and better suited to cold forming.
The result is components which are lighter and often stronger, making life easier and safer for scaffolders. Furthermore, each individual component is marked for traceability, which means that you can follow an individual component right back to the steel batch from which it was manufactured.
In a world that is becoming ever more litigious it is more and more important that scaffold companies ask pertinent questions of scaffold hire companies to determine whether they have an audit trail to demonstrate that their stock has been manufactured to the highest standards and that the risk of failure has been minimised.
So the next time you are considering hiring access systems, just ask yourself one or two pertinent questions:
- Do I know enough about where the scaffolding was sourced from?
- Are the components precision made so that they fit together properly and easily into each other all the way through the project (remember, if scaffold is 1° out of plumb it reduces the load bearing capacity by 10%!)
- Does scaffold come with a customer support package that includes a proper manual and a training facility?
- Is the scaffold designed to meet performance criteria or simply copied to “look the part”?
In short, when I send my men out on site, can I be confident that my company will be fully compliant with CDM?