Scaffold safety in the spotlight in NSW

June 22, 2020

Safe Work NSW launched a targeted scaffold safety campaign, Scaff Safe 2020, in March in a continued attempt to address unsafe scaffolding practices on constructions sites. Individuals and companies are now facing fines plus possible suspension of licences for breaching the safety rules.

In 2019, a young construction worker tragically died, and another was seriously injured as a result of a major scaffold collapse on a construction site in Sydney. This incident was a reminder to construction site managers of the potential dangers of scaffolding and prompted Safe Work NSW to implement a compliance program called Operation Scaff Safe.

During the 12-month construction safety blitz, inspectors issued more than 1,300 notices related to scaffolds, including 131 on-the-spot fines totalling at $432,720.

Given the poor scaffold compliance rates during the safety blitz, Safe Work NSW has opted to continue to focus on scaffold safety through the targeted campaign 'Scaff Safe 2020'.

What can businesses expect from Scaff Safe 2020?

Safe Work NSW has a zero tolerance for businesses who put the lives of workers at risk by permitting scaffolds on their site that are not safe or compliant with Australian standards.

Therefore, under Scaff Safe 2020 employers and workers can expect to see continued inspector compliance site visits as well as targeted interventions and case management for the poor performing businesses, scaffold suppliers and installers that were identified under the 2019 campaign.

During their site visits, Safe Work NSW inspectors will be checking to ensure that:

  • Scaffolds are being built to Australian standards
  • Scaffolds are not missing any components
  • Those erecting, dismantling or altering scaffolds hold the appropriate High-Risk Work (HRW) Scaffolding Licence
  • Scaffolds remain safe and compliant throughout the course of the build project

On-the-spot fines of $720 for individuals and $3,600 for employers can be issued where an inspector believes; workers lives are at risk from falls from heights, or where scaffolding work was undertaken without the required licence.

Should a scaffolder fail the safety checks, they may also have their licence suspended or cancelled, and any compliance action taken will be publicly displayed on their licence records.

What can site supervisors do to ensure their scaffolding is safe and compliant?

Principal contractors and site supervisors have a responsibility to ensure the safety and integrity of any scaffolding used throughout the entire duration of a construction project.

To help manage the risks associated with the scaffolding used on sire, it is important site supervisors ensure:

  • The scaffold is only erected, altered or dismantled by a worker with the appropriate HRW licence
  • The scaffold has been inspected before the first use, prior to use after alterations or repairs and after an event that could affect the integrity or stability of the scaffold e.g. storms, unauthorised modifications etc
  • A handover certificate is obtained from the scaffolder and kept on site for the duration of the project
  • That it is clearly explained during site inductions that unlicenced workers are not to alter a scaffold and are given the appropriate contacts should a scaffold need repair or alteration
  • Workers are prevented from accessing areas where scaffolding is incomplete
  • That scaffolders provide a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) before starting any high-risk construction work, which must be kept on site for the duration of the project

Please note, that while Scaff Safe 2020 is targeting NSW construction sites, scaffold safety is taken seriously in all states and territories in Australia.

All site supervisors are encouraged to set clear policies and safety procedures regarding the scaffolding on site and take the appropriate steps to help avoid unnecessary accident or injury.

How Quanta can help

Quanta has been delivering competitively priced and reliable insurance solutions for the past 30 years. Contact us today to find out how our team can assist you in meeting the complex needs of your construction clients.

The information provided in this article is of a general nature only and has been prepared without taking into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. If you require advice that is tailored to your specific business or individual circumstances, please contact Quanta directly.


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