The Benefits of U.K. Guidance for Temporary Works

by D. W. Quinion, Tarmac Construction Ltd, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Preparing for Construction in the 21st Century


In British contracts the Contractor is responsible for the design and execution of temporary works unless the Design Engineer or the Client expressly instruct how the work is to be undertaken or temporary works designed or used. Apart from some publications on steel sheet piled cofferdams there was little technical guidance about the many types of temporary works in use and it was customary to interpret the requirements of Structural Codes and Standards applying to the design of permanent works. Interpretations were neither easy nor consistent and a great deal of custom and practice developed among the practitioners in contractors and designers. Newcomers to the design or checking of temporary works found great difficulty in this absence of specific guidance. This resulted in delays in gaining acceptances, misunderstandings where the permanent and temporary works interacted and many instances of incorrect designs and constructions. Two of the most commonly used forms of temporary works with strong safety implications are falsework and trench support systems. On the multitude of smaller construction sites these works were usually undertaken by staff unfamiliar with the engineering principles, without clear drawings or instructions and making what seemed to them to be the best use of the materials available. When it rained, overloading occurred, or there were impacts, vibrations and high winds, or changes in ground conditions. Then collapses occurred. The UK already had two significant legislations applying to the industry. The Health and Safety at Work Act spells out the responsibilities of all the involved organisations and individuals to ensure the safety of anyone likely to be directly or indirectly affected by construction operations. The Factories Act includes many construction regulations relating to safe practices on sites including the need to keep a Register of Scaffolding Works and their inspections. In general there were and still are too few inspectors and there was little definition of good practices. In 1970 it was clear that fatalities and injuries due to failures in construction were increasing in the UK and elsewhere.

Subject Headings: Standards and codes | Construction sites | Occupational safety | Building codes | Contracts and subcontracts | Temporary structures | Falsework and scaffolds | Legislation | United Kingdom | Europe

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