1 min read

Free-standing scaffold fall triggers safety alert

SafeWork SA has reminded businesses of their legal obligation to ensure safe systems of work are in place to protect workers and other people, following the collapse of approximately 20 metres of free-standing perimeter containment scaffolding onto a public street during high winds.

Luckily, no one was injured. However, the risk of serious injury or death to workers and the general public from a collapse or partial collapse of scaffolding is high, SafeWork SA warns.

The height of free-standing scaffolding must not exceed 3 times the minimum base width dimension, the regulator states.

Also, perimeter containment screens, shade cloths, signs attached to scaffolding and environmental loads caused by wind and rain add to the risk of scaffolding collapsing or becoming damaged.

SafeWork SA says to avoid the potential risk to workers’ and public health and safety resulting from the collapse of free-standing scaffolding, businesses must do the following:

  • consult with the scaffold designer or supplier before attaching additional parts that may impose new loads on the scaffold;
  • ensure the scaffold can withstand any anticipated loads and forces, e.g. wind loads;
  • consider improving scaffold stability by:
  • staggering the joints in standards;
  • tying the scaffold to a supporting structure;
  • guying to a supporting structure;
  • increasing the stability by securely attaching counterweights;
  • adding bays to increase the base dimension (buttress bays); and
  • attaching stabilisers (back propping); and
  • develop procedures to inspect and maintain the scaffold to make sure it is safe to use and remains that way.

Click here for comprehensive information on managing scaffolding work hazards and risks.

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