The practice of erecting scaffolding for construction purpose dates back to centuries ago when mighty palaces and temples were built. However, the methods and techniques have scarcely developed in Sri Lanka over the years, as it is observed that timber and, in most instances, bamboo is still used, even during the construction of high rise buildings.
According to the Chairman of the Vocational Training Authority of Sri Lanka, Eng. Dr. Lionel Pinto, over 50 scaffolding related deaths were recorded over the past 2 years. “This is mainly due to the unscientific and unprofessional construction and use of scaffoldings. With the rapidly growing construction industry in Sri Lanka which widely includes high-rise buildings, scaffolding becomes the most required mechanism that is and will be used,” he said. Dr. Pinto made this observation at the event held to celebrate the signing of an MoU between the Vocational Training Authority (VTA) of Sri Lanka and Smart Trends International Lanka. The Memorandum of Understanding brings Smart Trends International Lanka into a strategic partnership with the VTA to offer the UK awarding body, NCFE’s globally recognized certified courses. The first initiative will be to develop and design a scaffolding training course.
Presenting to the guests on the project, Maheswaren Balakrishnan, COO of Smart Trends International Lanka highlighted the fact that most accidents and deaths occur due to various levels or no quality standards being applied in terms of technology, skills and construction. The consequences of poor standards in scaffolding are detrimental to the worker – fatality, permanent or temporary injury and inability to work - and the business – lawsuits, compensations and image of the brand among other factors. He emphasized that the cost of poor quality can rise up to 200% as many losses are not tangible.
The programme which will be introduced through the strategic partnership will raise, improve and standardize the scaffolding standards of the industry in Sri Lanka by making available an international qualification and standard certified by NCFE (UK). A national awarding organization, NCFE qualifications contribute to the success of millions of learners at all levels. It will up-scale and up-skill the local workforce to the next level of quality standards thereby ensuring better prospects in terms of employability both locally and internationally. The construction industry will be benefited by the ability to deliver high quality service and gain opportunities to participate in large scale projects with confidence. In the long term, the entire eco system including the workforce, contractors, insurers, suppliers, standard organizations, financial organizations and project owners will harness the advantage of the higher standards of quality and safety.
The course will span 4 levels, and the complete investment on infrastructure and resources will be borne by Smart Trends International Lanka. Level 1 is the Certificate in Business Scaffolding where workers will be trained to operate to the new Standards for Sri Lanka for Scaffolding including; identifying the correct scaffolding for the task, erecting and dismantling scaffolding and all related health and safety requirements. The next level, Certificate in High Rise Scaffolding will endow the additional skills required to erect and dismantle high rise scaffolding including all the additional health and safety requirements for working at height. Level 3 of the course – Certificate in Scaffolding Supervisor - is for a Supervisory level which gives them the skills to supervise, train and assess to the new National Scaffolding Standards for Sri Lanka. Those who qualify and complete the final level which is the Advanced Certificate in Scaffolding for Sri Lanka will be recognized as scaffolding inspectors ensuring that construction sites comply in all aspects to the new National Standards for Scaffolding in Sri Lanka.