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BS5973 to be officially withdrawn in 2010

23 January 2013

UK Scaffolding industry expected to conform to European Standard BS EN12811-1:2003 from 2011

UK Scaffolding industry expected to conform to European Standard BS EN12811-1:2003 from 2011

The UK scaffolding industry should be fully conforming to the European Standard BS EN12811-1:2003 by the end of 2010 rather than the British Standard BS 5973:1993.

Philip White, Chief Inspector of Construction said: ‘As from 1st January 2011 the Health and Safety Executive will no longer acknowledge BS5973:1993 as a recognised standard for the design of tube and fitting scaffolding structures’.

However, BS EN12811-1 is a performance document and does not give detailed advice on safe systems of work for erecting, altering or dismantling scaffolds when erected using tubes and fittings. To overcome this, the NASC produced TG20:08 - Technical Guidance on the use of BS EN12811-1, which has been published as a guide to good practice for scaffolding with tubes and fittings.

Differences between the outgoing BS 5973 and BS EN12811-1.

The decision was taken by the British Standards Institution (BSI) to withdraw BS5973:1993 because of the conflict of information within the two standards. The principal differences between BS EN12811-1 and BS 5973 are:

  • The European standard requires all scaffolds to be designed

  • There are six service Load Classes, some with partial area loads

  • There are seven width classes and two headroom classes

  • A requirement for a minimum unimpeded area along the full length of the working platform

  • BS5973 gives no differentiation between the loading on main platform and the inside boards

  • The definition of an in-service and an out-of-service condition

  • A reduction in the number of working platforms in use for light duty, general purpose and heavy duty scaffolds. When in use a scaffold is considered to have one platform with 100% of the service load and one adjacent platform (above or below) with 50% of the service load

  • In the absence of wind, a scaffold shall have a notional horizontal load, on every bay, applied separately parallel and perpendicular to the bay

  • Wind loads on scaffolds shall conform to the national standard BS 6399/EN1991

  • Reappraisal of effective lengths for the purpose of estimating the safe loads on standards

  • The structural design according to Limit State theory.

In summary, the standard for ALL scaffolds to be built to within the UK from January 1st 2011 is BS EN12811-1, the guidance document for tube and fitting scaffolds to meet this European standard is TG20:08 - Technical Guidance on the use of BS EN12811-1.

The NASC envisages that all its members will be working fully to the new guidance by no later than the end of 2010.

For more information on scaffolding guidance including TG20:08 and other developments in best practice for the scaffolding industry, plus a list of all regulated NASC members visit www.nasc.org.uk