Scaffolder jobs(Also known as Scaffolding technician)
A scaffolder is a site technician in the construction industry who is tasked with assembling safe scaffolding around or in a building undergoing high-level construction or reconstruction. A scaffold is a metal interlocked assembly which allows construction crews to work at height on a building or structure. The most common form is the one routinely encountered on domestic properties, but they can range in size up to absolutely immense forms on some large commercial jobs. It is basically a modular assembly of metal tubes of fixed lengths, although the application of it is bespoke to the property being worked upon. It is the scaffolder’s job to put all the pieces together to form a safe and effective work platform. The job notably requires the candidate to be comfortable working at a significant height from the ground, so those with a fear of heights need not apply! Scaffolding work can be a very effective entry point into the building trade; the scaffolding industry is now heavily regulated and has a positive stance on ongoing Continuous Professional Development (CPD) by way of numerous courses and qualifications.
SalaryThe standard entry point for unskilled and unqualified scaffolders is as a site labourer with a scaffolding company. Labourers working in most areas of construction are typically paid at minimum wage. In the UK, this is currently £5.93 per hour for workers aged 21 and over, £4.92 for those in the 18-20 age category, and £3.64 for young workers aged between 16-17 (source: DirectGov UK). Hourly rates rise with each qualification and the level of responsibility, and can rise up to approximately £30 per hour, depending on the role and exact skill set and supervisory conditions.
- Provide a quotation for the installation of the scaffold
- Arrive at customer’s site at agreed time and place
- Maintain tools and safety equipment
- Complete assembly of scaffold in line with customer/roofer requirements and agreed scope of work
- Observe strict health and safety practices at all times, as nearly all of the work occurs at potentially dangerous height levels
QualificationsMany scaffolders who begin as labourers require no qualifications at all, and often, new candidates are able to procure labourers' positions without experience. The scaffolding industry is very pro-development, with a variety of different courses available to develop the skill set and experience of the candidate. CISRS (Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme)-carded operatives who have completed height training are allowed onto site. There are various options for progression in this professional career by way of the NVQ recognised qualification: Basic Scaffolders Part 1 (NVQ1), Basic Scaffolders Part 2 (NVQ 2), Advanced Scaffolders (NVQ3) and also the Site Managers Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS).
- Have a common sense attitude to health and safety at work
- Be able to work effectively in a team (work crew)
- Understand how to assemble the scaffold in bespoke situations, such as the inside of a cathedral
- Have a degree of empathy for the roofer, and understand how best to set up the scaffold
- Be prepared to start early and finish late to get the job done
- Be prepared to work weekends when required
- Enjoy working outside in all weather
- Have no fear of heights
Working ConditionsScaffolding is classified as a high-risk occupation due to the constant need for working from high platforms. Even in the construction industry (which is generally assumed to have a high-risk profile generally), scaffolding (together with roofing) remains prone to significant (or fatal) injury. Scaffolding technicians working in teams must be aware of each other’s actions at all times and maintain a strong sense of positioning and responsibility. Scaffolders who are expected to work on larger commercial projects will have additional responsibilities placed upon them in terms of legislative requirements. All scaffolding companies must have public liability insurance to continue to trade with affiliation to the professional associations. Personal protective equipment should be worn at all times, as it may mitigate serious injury during a fall (this includes a hard hat, hi-visibility vest and harness).
ExperienceNew entrants are usually expected to join as site labourers, as this will give effective “on the job” training to candidates who lack qualifications or experience. Industry associations are very vocal on expressing their focus on CPD (Continuous Professional Development), and there are several in-industry courses to allow the candidate to advance.
Career ProgressionCandidates can gain experience whilst on the job, as they set about working on a variety of different types of structure. Some specialise in church repairs, for example, and this can be a good way for scaffolders to differentiate their particular skill set within the industry. For those with 5+ years of experience who have advanced to head technician or site leader position, the hourly rate (and sometimes bonus and overtime rate) can improve massively, so it pays for the candidate to drive themselves consistently towards learning, training and developing their net skill range.
EmployersMany scaffolding companies operate locally or regionally, but there are some which have a nationwide service; these tend to focus on high-yield commercial scaffold builds. Lyndon Scaffolding lays claim to being “the largest privately owned specialist-scaffolding contractor in the UK.”
Stuart Mitchell is the founding owner of Mitchell’s Scaffolding Limited, one of Lancashire’s premier fully-accredited professional scaffolding companies.