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In the ever-evolving landscape of construction and engineering, the role of a Temporary Works Supervisor (TWS) has undergone significant changes, especially since 2019. Historically, TWSs have often been thrust into challenging situations without adequate support, effectively being asked to sign off on complex and high-risk tasks beyond their expertise. However, with the introduction of the updated BS5975 standard and the implementation of risk classification, the era of overburdening TWSs is coming to an end.

Understanding the Roles: TWC vs. TWS

To appreciate the importance of these changes, it’s crucial to understand the distinct roles of a Temporary Works Coordinator (TWC) and a TWS. The TWC handles the management side of temporary works, which includes:

  • Filling out design briefs
  • Updating temporary works registers
  • Preparing method statements and risk assessments
  • Organising the development of designs to construction status

On the other hand, the TWS is primarily responsible for the site function of temporary works. Their duties involve:

  • Managing the safe installation of temporary works
  • Following method statements and risk assessments prepared by the TWC
  • Overseeing the construction status designs organised by the TWC
  • Managing both the installation and dismantling of temporary works on-site

The Challenges Faced by TWSs

Since the inception of the TWS role in 2008, these supervisors have often been expected to sign off on virtually everything on site. This expectation has sometimes placed TWSs in situations where they had to approve tasks that were beyond their expertise and training. Such practices have not only overburdened TWSs but also increased the risk of errors and accidents on site.

A New Era: Implementation Risk Classification

The pivotal change came in 2019 with the revision of the BS5975 standard, which introduced the concept of “Implementation Risk Classification.” This system is designed to ensure that tasks are signed off by the appropriate level of personnel, based on the risk involved. Here’s how it works:

  1. Risk Assessment: The Principal Contractor’s TWC and the Contractor’s TWC collaborate to assess each item on the Temporary Works (TW) register from two perspectives:
    • Execution risk
    • Consequence of failure
  2. Risk Classification: By combining these perspectives, they determine the overall risk level of each item, categorised as very low, low, medium, or high.
  3. Appropriate Sign-Off:
    • Very low and low-risk items are signed off by the TWS.
    • Medium and high-risk items require the TWC to sign off, ensuring that complex and high-stakes tasks are handled by more experienced and knowledgeable personnel.

The Benefits of Implementation Risk Classification

The introduction of Implementation Risk Classification has several significant benefits:

  • Enhanced Safety: By ensuring that only qualified individuals sign off on high-risk tasks, the system reduces the likelihood of errors and accidents, thereby enhancing overall site safety.
  • Reduced Burden on TWSs: TWSs are no longer expected to handle tasks beyond their capability, allowing them to focus on their core responsibilities without undue pressure.
  • Improved Quality Control: With TWCs more involved in the sign-off process for high-risk tasks, the quality and compliance of temporary works are better maintained.
  • Collaborative Approach: The requirement for TWCs to work together fosters a more collaborative and coordinated approach to managing temporary works.


The era of throwing Temporary Works Supervisors into the deep end is indeed over. The updated BS5975 standard and the introduction of Implementation Risk Classification mark a significant step forward in the management of temporary works. These changes ensure that tasks are appropriately delegated based on risk, enhancing safety, reducing undue pressure on TWSs, and improving overall project outcomes. As the construction industry continues to evolve, these measures will play a crucial role in fostering a safer and more efficient working environment.

The Era of Throwing Temporary Works Supervisors into the Deep End is Gone