The answer to when you do and don’t need scaffolding is not cut and dried…
In the professional domain, if anyone is being employed to work at height then a risk assessment must be undertaken. This determines what safeguarding measures are needed. There are regulations for guidance (The Work at Height Regulations 2005 – though what counts as ‘working at height’ is not defined). For an individual undertaking DIY there is no legal requirement, but obviously deciding whether to use scaffolding is no less important and any risk of falling should always be properly mitigated.
Scaffolding is all about keeping people safe, and if you are in doubt, it pays to be cautious. Remember scaffolding protects not only those on it, but it also minimises the risks to others around the site (fellow traders and passers by) from falling materials, tools and the like. It can also improve the access to a building or its roof, making the job easier as well as safer. Ultimately for those more minor jobs, whether you need scaffolding is a question of careful judgement.
The size / nature of the project
Minor roof repairs to a home are often cited as an example where scaffolding might not be needed. A simple fix or tile replacement or a single storey flat roof extension may be safe with ladder access. However, you need to be entirely confident that the job is “low risk and short duration”.
Where repairs are needed to more than a small section of the roof, where the job involves more than 2 people, or if it involves more than very minor repairs, you should seek professional advice as scaffolding is likely to be the best option. If your project reaches out onto a public pathway or road then you need to be sure you are protecting those below you as well as yourself.
Use of a ladder is only likely to be safe for jobs that do not take long. Certainly, if there is a chance your job could take more than a day to complete, then scaffolding is recommended. It will improve your access and ability to move around the site. Also you need to consider the weather and any sudden changes. Scaffolding provides real stability and safety in bad weather.
Scaffolding will always improve the safety of a site providing it is supplied and erected by fully qualified and competent professions. Good companies will have the appropriate industry accreditations. If you are using a builder it is their responsibility to assess the risk, have the appropriate insurances and ensure that scaffolding companies hold the right qualifications. Scaffolding should also be fully checked before it is used, every 7 days after it is up, and following any changes or severe weather.
If in any doubt; speak to our friendly team. Scaffolding will improve safety for all and could make the job easier and quicker to complete.