Scaffolding is defined as the erection, alteration or dismantling of a temporary structure, specifically erected to support platforms.
Scaffolds are commonly used for working at heights and there is the potential risk for a scaffolder (person working on a
scaffold) to fall from an incomplete scaffold during the erection and dismantling of a scaffold.
In particular, scaffolders can be exposed to fall hazards:
This guide will help you to identify some of the potential risks and provides solutions and tips for fall protection when
erecting, dismantling or altering scaffolding, to help reduce injuries and fatalities resulting from working unsafely on scaffolds.
Fully Decking Each Lift
The risk of internal falls while erecting a scaffold can be controlled by fully decking each lift.
During dismantling a lift, planks are removed while standing on the full-decked platform immediately below.
By adopting this method:
Note: all platforms will require full edge protection (guardrails-midrails-toeboards or quardrails-brickguards) to enable such authorisation.
Access to scaffolds for routine inspections is improved.
Precautions associated with this method include:
The risk of external falls from the open sides and ends of the scaffold can be reasonably controlled by adopting the sequential erection method.
This method involves the one-bay-at-a-time sequential installation of standards and guardrails (or guardrails alone
where standards are already in place). This ensures that scaffolders are not required to walk further than one bay length along an exposed edge of a scaffold platform. Dismantling is simply a reverse of the sequence.
It should be noted that where platform brackets (“hop-ups”) are to be installed later, where the adjacent structure is yet to be built or in other similar circumstances, internal guard rails should also be installed as part of the above sequence.
The use of the sequential erection method does not preclude the use of alternative methods such as purpose-designed proprietary advance guardrail systems or other systems of work that provide an equivalent level of fall protection.
The particular method selected to control the risk of external falls will depend upon the relative feasibility of its application to the scaffold configuration being considered.
Ensuring that an appropriate access system is in place can control the risk of climbing falls for scaffolders gaining
access from one lift to the next. This can be in the form of a stairway or ladder access that is progressively installed as the scaffold is erected, rather than added on at a later stage.
Employers should ensure that the practice of scaffolders climbing the scaffold framework is strictly forbidden.
The three typical situations where scaffolders can be exposed to a risk of a fall (internal, external and climbing)
can be reasonably controlled by a combination of fully decking each lift, using the sequential erection method and progressively providing access as the scaffold is erected.
The use of a safety harness as a fall injury prevention system has limited practical application for the construction of scaffolds. A harness should not be used where:
NOTE: Safety harnesses should not be used in the erection and dismantling of normal standing scaffolds.
Safety harness systems would be an acceptable control solution in the following situations when erecting or dismantling scaffolds:
NOTE: If harness systems are used, in all instances a scaffolder must not be exposed to a fall prior to being securely connected to, or after being disconnected from the anchorage point
Occupational Health and Safety Act 1989 (the Act)
Scaffolding and Lifts Act (1912)
Scaffold and Lifts Regulations 1950
ACT WorkCover Information Bulletin – Scaffolding 04.16
ACT WorkCover Information Bulletin – Falls Prevention on Construction Sites 3.14
ACT WorkCover Steel Construction Code of Practice, April 1997
AS/NZS 4576 – Guidelines for Scaffolding, available from Standards Australia at www.standards.com.au or telephone on 1300654 646
ACT WorkCover website: firstname.lastname@example.org