Temporary Works and the Dangers

Temporary Works and the Dangers


  • Date: Wednesday 30th January 2019
  • PDF: Download

‘Temporary works’ is an expression in the construction industry for an ‘engineered solution’ used to support or protect an existing structure or the permanent works during construction, or to support an item of plant or equipment, or the vertical sides of side-slopes of an excavation, or to provide access.  They play an important role in providing a working platform for construction workers so that the result can be achieved safely.  These are usually removed after the work has been completed.

Examples of temporary works could include trenches, excavations, shoring edge protection, scaffolding, site hoarding and signage, supports and tower crane bases.

There are several reasons as to why temporary works can be such a danger to health and safety, such as no Temporary Works Coordinator, no temporary works equipment or lack of knowledge and experience of persons involved in temporary works design and erection/maintenance. 

The lack of stability and permanency of temporary works means that there is a very real danger of collapse, causing either fall or crush injuries (or death) to anyone unfortunate enough to get caught up in the incident.  It is vitally important therefore that all necessary precautions are taken to prevent such a catastrophe, including suitable health and safety training and ensuring that those constructing the temporary works are competent in its creation, as well as monitoring for signs of problems such as cracks or erosion of side walls.

The greatest opportunity to eliminate temporary works risk, therefore, comes prior to and during permanent works design.  In most circumstances the temporary works will be designed by, or on behalf of, the Principal Contractor directly.  Alternatively, the temporary works designs will be prepared by, or on behalf of sub-contractors whose sub-contract package includes temporary works design.  The temporary works designers may be internal or external to the organisation with contractual responsibility for the works themselves.

Good temporary works designs are characterised by the following:

  • They are simple and safe to fabricate, erect, check once erected, use and remove
  • They are each a single, fully co-ordinated design in which all relevant aspects of the structural system are considered
  • They are robust and sufficient as structures in their own right; also, they have safe access for inspection and maintenance and, where needed, an appropriate inspection and maintenance regime
  • The designer’s intent is communicated fully and without ambiguity
  • The basis of each design is clear to those who will manage each individual scheme, and to those who will manage the overall project, so that they will identify and pay proper attention to the safety and performance-critical features

For more information, or if you would like to attend one of our Temporary Works courses, please contact our Customer Service Team on 01752 201616 or visit our website www.ssg.co.uk.

Source: Mel Standlick, SSG


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