Safety alert: HSE inspecting scaffold sheeting and netting standards

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, a significant amount of additional scrutiny has been directed at work relating to high rise buildings. There are still cases where scaffolds erected on occupied buildings are being covered in sheeting and netting which does not comply with the current HSE Guidance.

There are two main documents that explain the standards of sheeting and netting which are required for buildings where there is a risk of fire:

  • HSE Guidance for Managing fire risk during cladding and insulation removal and replacement on high-rise buildings – guidance for inspectors. The appendix was updated in September 2021.

And 

  • HSE168 Fire Safety in Construction (This publication has been temporarily withdrawn).

The HSE Guidance for Managing Fire Risk During Cladding document states that:

The Principal Contractor (PC), in co-ordination and co-operation with the client and designer, should make a thorough fire risk assessment to determine what controls are required as a result of the construction work, and then implement and maintain those controls. This should include preparatory enabling works, dismantling and strip off of defective cladding and insulation, and installation of new insulation and cladding.

The document goes on to say that the following standards of sheeting must be used:

Where existing external wall panels have been removed, pending a decision on what material to replace them with, and weather protection is needed, wall coverings or sheeting should be to the relevant standard, either LPS 1207/TS63 (temporary protective covers) or LPS 1215/TS62 (or equivalent for scaffold sheeting or netting).

  • When flame retardant sheeting and netting is requested for scaffolding, you must request the above standard and verify that what arrives on site is what was ordered.
  • There are several strands of responsibility and a requirement to communicate effectively and agree on the type of sheeting and/or netting required by all parties (including the Client, Designers and the Principal Contractor).
  • The scaffold company risk assessment and method statement should also include the type of sheeting and netting to be used and fitted.
  • Clients and PCs are still instructing scaffold contractors to sheet staircases. The HSE document offers guidance on this which must be obeyed, stating ‘The scaffold stair towers should be kept open from sheeting to prevent smoke logging.’

This statement below is taken from the HSE Guidance for their inspectors

Each project should be assessed to determine the risks and controls that are relevant. Fire risk during construction (erection of scaffold or mast climbers, cladding and insulation removal and replacement, dismantling of scaffolding, etc.) should be low provided a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks is made and the controls identified are implemented and managed effectively.

In summary:

  • Complete risk assessments including those for fire.
  • Coordinate and agree on the type of sheeting and netting to be used, clearly stating its type and specification.
  • Verify that the type ordered is the type which arrives on site.
  • Install it in line with the HSE’s guidance document

 

How Citation can help

If you’ve got any questions about how to make sure the netting and sheeting used in your business is up to standard and compliance with the HSE’s guidance, you can call our Health & Safety advice line on 0345 844 4848 or speak to your local Health & Safety consultant.

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