It's no surprise that scaffolding is looked on as a risky occupation by insurers.
But you might be surprised to learn that the main cause of accidents to scaffolders isn't a tumble from height, but slips, trips and falls on the same level.
That's according to NASC (National Access and Scaffolding Confederation), the national trade body for access and scaffolding in the UK.
Tampering with scaffolding by other trades is another common cause of accidents.
Depending on your budget and attitude to risk, you can add on extras including:
- Tools & Equipment
- Business Premises and Contents
- Contract Works
- Personal Accident
Public Liability Insurance
Public Liability Insurance (PL) covers a scaffolding business for injury or damage to people and property. It meets your legal liability to pay damages, and any related legal costs.
Insurers will want a breakdown of work carried out at different heights and ask you to specify the maximum height worked to (eg 15 metres). Go higher than the agree height and insurers will throw out a claim.
They'll also want to know the proportion of work carried out at different locations - domestic, commercial or industrial premises - and whether hazardous locations are involved (airports, railways, docks, power plants).
Increased Risk and Cost
Scaffolding companies that specialise in areas such as falsework or offshore scaffolding will face higher premiums.
Temporary spectator stands and staging for public events pose real risks to the public if something goes wrong so you can expect the premiums to reflect this.
Renting/Hiring Out Scaffolding
If you hire out scaffolding to other companies make sure your insurer knows. You can insure scaffolding equipment against failure and accidents. Always check the hirer has their own insurance.
If you erect your own scaffolding for someone else, a builder or roofing company for example, the contractor should have their own public liability insurance for subcontractors. They'll probably expect you to have the same level of cover as them.
Employers Liability Insurance
Scaffolders rarely work alone as it takes a team to erect and dismantle structures. If you directly employ assistants or apprentices who aren’t immediate family you will need employers liability insurance (EL).
EL meets the cost of compensating employees who fall sick, are injured or die through work, as well as legal fees involved.
The legal minimum required is £5 million.
Scaffolding Trade Body
The National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) is the national trade body for access and scaffolding in the UK.
To be eligible for membership, you must have a minimum of £5 million Public Liability and £10 million Employers' Liability cover.
NASC have identified problems with scaffolding manufactured outside the UK which doesn't meet BSEN standards. If you use imported scaffolding equipment, check that your liability insurance covers this.
If you manufacture scaffolding, NASC's Code of Practice for the Hire, Sale and Use of System Scaffolds demands that UK suppliers must have a minimum of £2m Product Liability insurance.