Accident statistics across scaffolding and access companies point to a disproportionate incident rate among smaller companies.
Manual handling was the most common cause of injury to operatives working in the scaffold and access industry, according to its 2022 safety report.
The National Access & Scaffolding Confederation’s 2022 Safety Report contains NASC contractor member accident statistics and analysis relating to the 2021 calendar year.
The number of accidents reported by NASC members is based on RIDDOR reportable incidents. There were 90 such accidents recorded in 2021 from a combined workforce of 15,620 operatives employed by 237 contractor members.
This represents a slight increase in accident frequency rate from the previous year by NASC members, though the total number has remained the same since 2013. The data shows that 181 NASC contractor members, 76% of the total, had no RIDDOR reportable accidents during 2021.
Among the 90 incidents was one fatality. A driver was killed after sustaining multiple injuries in a lorry loader incident. This is currently being investigated by the HSE.
26 injuries were reported as a result of manual handling, accounting for almost one in three (29%) of 2021’s total.
Slips and trips
In second place came slips and trips at 24. It was the first time in 17 years that this was not the most common cause of injury. All bar one incident occurred on site. The most common cause was poor ground conditions such as uneven surfaces.
Of the 89 non-fatal accidents suffered by NASC member operatives during 2021, 16 were recorded as ‘major injuries’, with the remaining 73 recorded as ‘over seven days’.
In 2021 94% of reportable accidents occurred on site.
The highest number of injuries (31) were suffered by operatives aged 31-40, closely followed by the 21-30 bracket (27).
Those aged between 51 and 60 suffered 11 injuries. Operatives aged between 16 and 20 suffered eight injuries and those between 41 and 50 suffered nine. Operatives aged over 61 accounted for the rest.
The types of accidents reported makes for interesting reading when broken down by age bracket. The majority of the 31-40 and 21-30 groups’ incidents are attributed to manual handling, with slips and trips on the same level. No other age brackets saw manual handling as the outright cause of injury.
Scaffolders suffered the most injuries by skill level (39).
The majority of incidents are suffered by operatives working for small companies (with between 21 and 50 operatives). The 21 incidents these companies recorded represent 23% of all incidents in 2021, despite the 3,123 operatives employed by these members only representing 20% of the total NASC member operative workforce.
Small/medium (51-100) company operatives suffered 32 injuries (36% of the total), despite only representing 19% of the total workforce.
Conversely, there were only six injuries reported by large members (1,001+ operatives), whose 4,220 operatives make up 27% of the total number of NASC operatives.