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The Industry Solutions Program is a research and development initiative undertaken by Work Cover NSW, which has worked with industry to devise practical solutions to problematic issues in an industry. It recognises the need for assistance in some industry sectors to overcome particular difficulties or challenges in order to improve workplace safety.

Solutions to safety issues are developed in partnership with industry within a three-month period and released for industry-wide implementation. Within 12 months, an evaluation is conducted to determine the effectiveness and practicality of the solutions. If necessary, further refinements, including additional solutions, are included after the evaluation.

The Industry Solutions Program identified that there is limited practical guidance material to assist workers on erecting, altering and dismantling prefabricated steel modular scaffolding – hence this industry safety standard was developed.

Contributors to this industry safety standard include:

  • Access Guard – Platforms, Scaffolding & Edge Protection
  • Boral
  • Bovis Lend Lease
  • Clarendon Residential
  • East Coast Scaffolding
  • Housing Industry Association
  • Kohinor Pty Ltd
  • Lipman Pty Ltd
  • Marron Consultancy
  • Master Builders Association NSW
  • SGB Raffia Pty Ltd
  • Southern Cross Construction NSW
  • Unions NSW
  • Waco Kwikform

This industry safety standard provides practical guidance for those erecting, altering and dismantling scaffolding, and for principal contractors, employers, suppliers of scaffolds and others involved in using prefabricated steel modular scaffolding. Clause 5 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001 (OHS Regulation) requires the control of risk to health and safety. Following this industry safety standard is a means to achieve such compliance.


The purpose of this industry safety standard is to provide guidance to scaffolders to safely erect, alter and dismantle prefabricated steel modular scaffolding where this information is not available from the manufacturer or supplier and the scaffold is of a basic configuration.

There are risks associated with scaffolders falling through and from the scaffold as they engage in these activities. To minimise these risks, this standard requires scaffolders to install and work from fully planked platforms at nominally two metre vertical intervals, and install guardrails and midrails in advance of the decking. However, if it is not practicable to install fully planked platforms at two metre intervals, a larger interval not exceeding three metres may be permitted using alternative safe methods and design limitations. The fully planked platforms are to remain in place until the scaffold is dismantled.

This industry safety standard also provides practical guidance for users of scaffolds on procedures for managing the number of permitted working platforms and their duty ratings to prevent overloading of the scaffold.


This industry safety standard covers the erecting, altering and dismantling of prefabricated steel modular scaffolding not exceeding 20 metres high, erected with all standards founded on the ground or another solid surface.

This standard does not cover:

  • scaffolds that require specific engineering designs, such as hung scaffolds, cantilevered scaffolds, loading platforms, birdcage scaffolds or scaffolds where the loads from one bay are transferred to the adjoining standards – eg spur scaffolds or scaffolds incorporating an access opening
  • scaffolds where the fully planked platforms are installed at greater than three metre vertical intervals.

Note: there may be prefabricated modular steel scaffolding designs that require specific erection methods. In such situations, these alternative methods must provide equivalent safety to those specified in this standard.


For the purpose of this industry safety standard, the following definitions apply:

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The platform duty ratings and generic work sequence recommended in this standard are deemed to comply for a specific range of scaffold design assumptions. Any scaffold that does not meet those assumptions must be specifically-designed to provide equivalent safety.


  • Standards are manufactured from tube 48.3 mm OD x 4 mm wall thickness and minimum steel grade C250 (minimum yield strength).
  • Scaffold is erected nominally plumb and standards are free of bends and damage.
  • Maximum height to the top working platform is no more than 20 metre
  • Bay size is not exceeding 2.4 m x 1.3 m approximately.
  • Number of fully planked platform levels is not more than 10.
  • Number of platform brackets levels is not more than 10 – platform brackets may be capable of supporting one or two planks wide (about 450 mm). Three plank brackets must not be used.
  • Live load, uniformly distributed over the working platform, must not exceed permissible live load as outlined in table 1.
  • Working platforms supported by hop-up brackets are not loaded to more than light duty, regardless of the duty rating of the working platform in the adjoining scaffold bay.
  • Number of permitted loaded working platforms and platforms supported by hop-up brackets are not greater than those shown in table 1.
  • Where specified, scaffold is sheeted with chain-wire mesh and 20 per cent-porosity (minimum) shade cloth – denser sheeting is not permitted.
  • The maximum vertical extension of a clad scaffold above the highest tie must not exceed two metres, with all standards being full standards without any joints.
  • Wind load is imposed by a wind speed not exceeding 60 kph (16 m/s) acting at 90 degrees directly onto the scaffold face – this design assumption does not allow a scaffold to be erected near a cliff edge or any other area where high winds are likely to occur during the time the scaffold is being erected, used or dismantled (this assumption also applies to incomplete scaffolds).
  • Every second standard is tied to a supporting structure of adequate strength, at four metre (maximum) vertical intervals.
  • Ties are staggered, as far as reasonably practicable
  • The foundation or footing has adequate bearing capacity to support the imposed load from the scaffold (refer to Australian Standard AS 4576 Guidelines for scaffolding).

Variations to the above design assumptions will require a detailed structural analysis by a structural engineer with a sound knowledge of scaffolding.


Check that the installed scaffold conforms to the design assumptions before using the information in the table below.

Working platforms of various duty ratings may be provided at various levels so long as the platforms within any bay comply with a row from table 1. An example of staggered working platforms is given in figure 1a.

The full run of the platform does not have to be classified as a working or closed platform.

Closed working platforms must not be used as access to a working platform.

Table 1: Permitted number of loaded platforms and hop-up platforms


  • Read across the table for each variation of permitted number of loaded platforms and hop-up platforms (for example, see the bold figures).
  • Platforms within the bay must not be loaded to greater duty loading than shown in the table.
  • Load on hop-up platforms must not be greater than light duty loading.

Figure 1: Diagrammatic illustration of a typical tie pattern

Figure 1a: Example of staggered work platforms, based on direct access from the building to each platform.


Procedures should be implemented for managing the number of permitted working platforms where the loading of all platforms would otherwise overload the scaffold.

There should be a system in place to limit the number of platforms permitted as working platforms, and to limit the respective platform ratings, to prevent the scaffold being overloaded. Table 1 outlines the permitted number and ratings of platforms for various scaffold heights.

Possible systems include:

  • closing off platforms at the access points by physical means
  • placing signs at the access points to each platform, advising if closed or indicating the duty rating of a working platform
  • assigning an on-site scaffold coordinator to control the use of various platforms, or sections of platforms, with the relevant contractors
  • designating who is to use the scaffold at any given time

Principal contractors must clearly identify in their site-specific OHS management plan those responsible for implementing the control measures.

The system should also:

  • include, in the site induction, the control measures and the names of those persons responsible for implementing the controls
  • have means to identify working platforms that are closed – this can be discussed at regular toolbox meetings
  • have means to monitor and review the control measures regularly – if the control measures are not effective, they should be modified, and records of the monitoring and modifications should be kept.


Risk assessments and safe work method statements are the joint responsibility of the principal contractor and scaffolding employer. They must use any information from the scaffold manufacturer, supplier, site management, and any information gleaned from consultation with the workers who undertake the erecting, altering or dismantling of the scaffolds.

For safe completion of the work, consider the following:

  • Pass scaffold items – do not throw them
  • The scaffolder must work from a safe position when installing edge protection for the platform above – eg standing on a purpose-made erection platform with edge protection (see figures 2, 3, 4 and 5 for various examples of a temporary erection platform)
  • The scaffolder should be supported on a fully planked platform when installing the platform immediately above, except for platform spacings above two metres where another purpose-made erection platform may be required for platform installation
  • The fully planked platforms should be nominally two metres apart, vertically, and remain in place until the scaffold is dismantled
  • The first platform can be up to three metres above the ground or supporting surface, except for the access bay
  • Safe access must be provided up to the first platform and between platforms on the scaffold
  • Risks from overhead power lines must be assessed and controlled – see WorkCover’s Code of practice: Work near overhead power lines.


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Figure 2: Diagrammatic illustration of erection and dismantling using various erection platform options – one-man operation. Note: scaffold is shown against a building, so guardrails only needed on external face. Toeboards and lower mid-rails omitted for clarity.

Figure 3: Diagrammatic illustration of erection and dismantling using various erection platform options – two man operation. Note: scaffold is shown against a building, so guardrails only needed on external face. Toeboards and lower mid-rails omitted for clarity

Figure 4: Diagrammatic illustration of erection and dismantling using platform option for a five plank wide scaffold. Note: scaffold is shown against an existing building, so guardrails only needed on external face. Toeboards and lower mid-rails omitted for clarity

Figure 5: Photographic illustration of erection and dismantling using two erection platform options for a three plank wide scaffold. Note: scaffold is shown against a building, so guardrails only needed on external face. Toeboards and lower mid-rails omitted for clarity


The following checklist can be used by a person in control of preparing for the erection, alteration and dismantling of a scaffold to ensure the important safety features and procedures specified in this industry safety standard are in place. It should be used prior to work being undertaken.

Tick yes or no as appropriate against each item.

By reviewing and completing this checklist with all ‘yes’ answers you will be well on your way to achieving your legal obligations.

Where you answer ‘no’ to any item, you should ensure that the item is still addressed to meet your safety obligations.


  • Visit WorkCover’s website at
  • Call the WorkCover Assistance Service on 13 10 50
  • Call the WorkCover publications hotline on 1300 799 003
  • Visit your nearest WorkCover office
  • Contact your scaffolding supplier or manufacturer.

Approved industry code of practice:

  • Code of practice: Work near overhead power lines (chapter 6 – scaffolding)

Australian standards:
Australian Standards can be purchased from SAI Global by contacting the Customer Service Centre on 13 12 42 or over the net at

  • AS 157… scaffolding
  • AS 1577…… Scaffold planks
  • AS/NZS 4576.. Guidelines for scaffolding