Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1989 (the Act), employers, persons in control of a workplace and self-employed persons must take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that persons at or near the workplace are not exposed to health and safety risks.
Falls from height are the most common cause of death on building and construction sites, killing 16 construction workers nationally in 2003. Scaffolds are commonly used to provide temporary platforms for working at height and require detailed attention to safety matters.
Scaffold working platforms are generally rated as light, medium or heavy duty:
Scaffolding of more than 4 metres in height must be erected, altered and dismantled by a
person with a certificate of competency of the appropriate class, or by a trainee under the direct supervision of a person with a relevant certificate of competency. Information Bulletin 05.01 New Certification Processes for Plant Users and Operators provides further detail.
Defective or incomplete scaffolding must not be accessed and should be sign posted “Scaffold Incomplete – Do Not Use”
Scaffolding components must be kept clear of overhead powerlines (minimum clearance of 4 metres for metal and 1.5 metres for timber). Advice should be sought from the local electricity supply authority for any reduction to these clearances.
Scaffolds should be protected from impact where there is a likelihood of mobile plant operating near scaffolding, eg. using barricades, buffer rails, concrete or timber kerbs.
Ladders for scaffolding:
Not all hazards and safeguards involved with the use of scaffolding are given here.
Detailed guidance about the selection, installation, use and maintenance of scaffolds is provided in AS/NZS 4576 – Guidelines for Scaffolding, available from Standards Australia at www.standards.com.au or telephone on 1300 654 646