Worksafe Update
Builders Bulletin

Scaffolding is very common on building sites these days and can make all jobs a lot easier. However, an important question to ask would be “Is the scaff old your employees are using safe?”

Earlier this year five employees were injured, two seriously when a scaffold they were working from collapsed.

In May, an employee at a residential construction site fell from scaffolding to the ground. He suffered severe head injuries and passed away in hospital two days later.

Safety issues

Falls are a leading cause of fatalities within the construction industry. Falls often occur as a result of inadequate fall prevention or incomplete systems of work all too often including unsafe or incomplete scaffolds.

Fall prevention and scaffolding safety blitz

Earlier this year, WorkSafe inspectors conducted targeted inspections at domestic and commercial construction sites focusing on:

  • Risks associated with the use of scaffolding, use of ladders and works at height
  • Gathering data on compliance with OHS legislation and associated risk controls
  • Communicating about the hazards/risks and controls
  • Identifying non-compliance trends that may require further educational activities

During the inspections WorkSafe inspectors completed scaffold checklists focusing on the following safety issues:

  • Scaffolding was fit for purpose and appropriate to support the intended load
  • Scaffolding has been signed off and if inspections were occurring
  • Appropriate access (stair/ladder) was provided
  • Scaffold was not missing any components or structural tie-ins

The data collected from the scaffold checklists revealed that 52% of scaffolds inspected required the inspector to take some form of compliance action.
The most common issues that inspectors found were:

  • Scaffold not adequately secured to structure
  • Failure to provide safe scaffold
  • Incomplete scaffold in use
  • No SWMS developed for the task

WorkSafe Construction inspectors continue to inspect scaffolds and continue to find poorly built or maintained scaffolding in use.

It takes only one missing handrail or the removal of a scaffold plank for a worker to fall and sustain life-threatening injuries or worse. The removal of a structural tie to install a window or similar can compromise a scaffolds structural integrity.

Every builder or principal contractor must ensure that scaffolds on their site are monitored and maintained to ensure safe access and structural integrity.

Tips for maintaining safe scaffolds

  • Inducting all workers into the site rules for scaffolds, such as no unauthorised modifications/alterations are to be made to scaffolds
  • Providing warning signs and barriers to restrict access to incomplete scaffolds
  • Using scaffolding only for the purpose for which it was designed
  • Identifying, removing or replacing damaged scaffolding components
  • Ensuring scaffolding is erected by an appropriately trained/licensed person
  • Regular inspections are carried out

Click to listen to inspector Brian Chamberlin’s construction top tip videos for more tips on safe scaffolding practices at construction sites.

WorkSafe wants every builder, contractor, self-employed person and worker to recognise and understand the risks associated with unsafe scaffolding.

More information

For more scaffolding resources and information on preventing injuries in scaffolding work, click below;

Click here

Contact WorkSafe Advisory service on 1800 136 089 carrying out excavation works.

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