by Frederike Berg
Scaffold product approvals and certificates - how you benefit from them as a scaffold user
Z-8.22-901, NF-096/No. 20-09 or A34/000034 - these admittedly rather cryptic titles conceal the product approvals for the RINGSCAFF modular scaffolding system. Many scaffolding manufacturers advertise with such scaffold approvals and certificates that they receive for their scaffolding products and production processes. But what exactly is behind them? Do scaffold certificates and approvals have any benefit for you as the scaffold user? If you struggle getting through the often page-long documents, studying all the information on the correct assembly of the scaffolding, technical details, standards and article numbers, it is not unlikely that you won’t be able to make heads or tails of it. We want to change this and explain the purpose of certificates and approvals in plain language.
First things first: what does a scaffold certificate or approval actually confirm?
Basically, it's quite simple: a scaffold product approval, such as those issued by the notified body DIBt, AENOR or AFNOR institute, proves compliance with the respective nationally valid Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health. In short: it confirms that a scaffolding product is reliable and safe to use. In some European countries, it is therefore even obligatory for scaffold suppliers to provide proof of the quality of a minimum number of scaffold components and the performance of their scaffolds to an independent institute. This way, the product receives a technical approval. Only with this approval the scaffold may be sold and used on construction sites. After that, also the production quality of the scaffold components is checked formally. When the production is assessed satisfactory, a certificate of conformity is issued based on the technical approval.
Which technical information does the document provide for you?
When you look at the product approval or certificate for the scaffold of your choice, you can already see on the first pages which components are certified, which standards the approval is based on and what the standard configuration entails. However, if you have ever leafed further through such a document, you will notice that the following pages contain quite a bit of technical data. This has two purposes:
- The technical data provide a clear description of how the scaffolding product or component is specified as well as how the scaffold is to be checked during the production process.
- They also come in handy at the project site, because the engineer needs the technical data to do the calculations for special configurations.
So, it makes perfect sense from a practical point of view to have a scaffold certified and approved.
What is the benefit for you in practice?
Even though the explanations may differ from country to country, the legislations agree on one thing: an employer must ensure that their employees can perform their work in accordance with the applicable safety standards – non-compliance is increasing the risk of accidents considerably and heavy penalties can be imposed. Therefore, it is of great advantage for employers that certificates and approvals first and foremost confirm that a scaffold is safe to use.
But that is not the only advantage of using a certified system. In fact, it can make work also easier for you as a user and save you time-consuming steps. This is due to the standard scaffold configurations that are already shown in the technical approval. So, unless you need a special scaffolding construction, you don't have to make static calculations or drawings on the site, because they are already in the issued document.
For these reasons, investing in a certified scaffolding product is money well spent. And what's more, you get a long-lasting replacement value for a demonstrably high-quality product.
Can foreign scaffold certificates and approvals be useful to you?
It might happen that you are looking at the list of certificates a scaffold has received, but you won’t be able to find one issued by an institute from your country. So, what's the point if your scaffolding has a certificate from Germany, for example, but you want to erect it in the Netherlands? Of course, each country has its own regulations that have to be fulfilled. But that doesn't mean that the foreign certificate can't be of value to you. Speaking of the certificate issued by the German DIBt, it already covers a great extent of internationally applicable standards and regulations. Therefore, many countries accept the German certificate as well since it already complies to their same national standards.
If you want to know which certificates and approvals the Scafom-rux scaffolding system of your choice has, take a look at our download centre for an overview.
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