Scaffold use attracts WorkSafe scrutiny

By Jeff Salton on March 14th, 2017
  1. Policies & Procedures
  2. Audits & Inspections

construction worker on a scaffold, symbolfoto for building, construction boom, labor protection

Building and construction companies using or erecting scaffolding will be targeted by WorkSafe ACT inspectors this month as the regulator focuses on reducing the number of injuries and deaths related to falls from heights.

“Since 2014 there have been 476 claims for workers compensation in the ACT relating from falls from heights, which is 476 injuries too many,” said Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones.

He said this audit was critically important to ensure safe practice because falls from heights were one of the most common and debilitating accidents that can happen in a workplace.

“Even a two metre fall can cause serious injury or be fatal. We know that falls are the leading cause of death in construction every year. These deaths are preventable and we want to work with industry to ensure we are all actively preventing serious accidents through delivery best practice,” Mr Jones said.

Scaffolding, when used appropriately, is an integral part of safety for those working at heights. But if scaffolding is not used safely, it can be dangerous to workers.

Two-month blitz

During March and April, the audits will include the inspection of commercial and residential construction sites.

“We will be working to educate as well as ensure compliance with industry during this proactive audit,” said Mr Jones.

The Housing Industry Association, Master Builders ACT and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) have been consulted by WorkSafe ACT on the scope of the audit and were fully supportive of the approach to safety on this area of high risk activity.

The scaffolding audit is the latest in a series of audits of high risk activities to be undertaken by WorkSafe ACT, following a focus on crane safety at the end of last year.

“We all want to ensure that workers get home safely. This audit is just one of the ways we can shine a spotlight on a key high risk area in a coordinated way to further understand issues on a larger scale and educate industry to support safety for workers undertaking work at heights,” Mr Jones added.

Don’t risk a worlplace incident

Are you putting workers at risk with your instructions (or lack of instructions) regarding the safe use of scaffolding in your business?

If your organisation operates outside of the ACT, it doesn’t mean you will escape a visit by the safety authority in your jurisdiction.

But even if you avoid an audit, don’t wait for an unforeseen accident to take place while one or more of your employees or contractors are working at height using your scaffolding.

The Portner Press Health & Safety Handbook, written in plain English by the health and safety lawyers at Holding Redlich, has a whole chapter on working at heights, along with 70 other chapters that cover everything you ever needed to know about ensuring your workers go home safely each night – and you avoid any costly penalties for breaching work health and safety laws in your state or territory.

Order your copy of the Health & Safety Handbook now and start benefiting from the downloadable and editable templates, step-by-step instructions, hints and tips, and all the latest information about how health and safety laws affect you and your business.


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