What are Temporary Works and why are they important?

Code of practice BS 5975: 2008+ A1:2011 defines temporary works (TW) as:

“those parts of the works that allow or enable construction of, protect, support or provide access to the permanent works and which might or might not remain in place at the completion of the works”

TW are the temporary parts of the construction process that are needed before permanent works can start.  Although they are removed once the project is complete, they are essential for the smooth and efficient completion of the build. A common example is the erecting and then removal of scaffolding. Others include:

  • Props
  • Shoring
  • Falsework and formwork
  • Excavation support
  • Cranes
  • Protection
  • Signage

There may be times when the TW are incorporated into the permanent works, for example, haul road foundations that may be used for permanent access roads. However, in the majority of cases TW are only in place for a short amount of time.  Because of this there could be a tendency to assume that they aren’t as important as permanent works, but this is a mistake. The exact same diligence and attention should be given to temporary and permanent works.

A lack of safety awareness or improper planning of TW could cause structures to fail or put workers at risk of injury. Accidents and poor planning will also cause project delays.   The principal designer should highlight TW design requirements during the design stage.  Based on this information, the main contractor should create a TW Register to list all the identified/specific TW items for the project.

Temporary Works Coordination Onsite

To manage the various elements, it is necessary that a competent person is in place to plan and be responsible for TW on site.  BS 5975 – Code of practice for temporary works procedures and the permissible stress design of falsework outlines a way to manage TW that has been found to be successful on medium and large scale projects. While it is not a legal requirement, the standard recommends someone onsite with the title of Temporary Works Coordinator (TWC) or Temporary Works Supervisor (TWS).  Allocating a dedicated resource to this role is considered by the industry to be good practice and is adhered to.

Legally, you are required to ensure that all work is co-ordinated and carried out in a manner that does not create unacceptable risk of harm to workers or members of the public.  On smaller projects with simple TW needs, you might choose not to appoint a TWC. However, to ensure safety, you must still ensure that the TW are properly managed and that all staff involved are suitably trained.

It is important to remember that TW are not the start of the process but that they describe a solution to a problem.  The problem usually is that a ‘temporary condition’ exists and that something (often equipment based on and involving an engineered solution) is needed to prevent the temporary condition causing a danger.

Often, the temporary condition can be managed by using a particular method and sequence to carry out work, i.e. if the structure and the site can be kept in a safe condition and safe to access throughout the process, then plant, equipment and non-permanent works may be minimised or not needed.

This means that permanent works designers play a critical role in determining the amount of TW that a project will require. Selecting a build method, sequence, system of work, and associated equipment and a suitable workforce therefore involves making decisions based on a large number of variables. This can only be sensibly achieved by detailed preparation – early planning rather than rushing at the last minute is essential.

Project Temporary Works Co-ordination Flowchart

The ORS Health and Safety Management Team designed a flowchart to highlight the stages that should be followed, and the level of co-ordination required on a project.

Typical examples of Temporary Works

Earthworks

Typical examples of Temporary Works

Plant

Typical examples of Temporary Works

Structures