Scaffolding audit finds concerns at residential and commercial sites

Released 06/10/2017

A recent proactive audit of scaffolding across the ACT’s commercial and residential construction sites has highlighted some serious safety concerns, Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones has advised.

WorkSafe ACT inspected scaffolding across 26 construction sites between March and May 2017 which included a mix of large commercial sites as well as medium and single residential sites.

Mr Jones said some common concerns were identified through the audit which was troubling, considering that working at height is one of the most high-risk activities for workers.

Mr Jones said across the board total compliance levels varied from a 58 per cent to 89 per cent.

While issues on commercial sites were able to be quickly rectified, WorkSafe ACT issued three Prohibition Notices and three Improvement Notices in the residential sector during the audit.

Key safety areas identified included:

  • insufficient fall protection at entry and exit points;
  • incorrectly installed ladders and stairs;
  • safe entry and exits not provided on every working platform; and
  • no sole plates under all base plates.

As well as continuing to check scaffolding as part of its regular site inspections, WorkSafe ACT will also conduct a follow-up audit to check on compliance.

Where repeat breaches or on-going compliance issues are identified, regulatory action will be taken.

“We found in the commercial sites we checked that only one out of five scaffolds were compliant with respect to access openings,” Mr Jones said.

“It was troubling that most of the commercial scaffolds were not compliant in this area.”

In the residential sector, inspectors found instances of incomplete scaffolding with key elements of the structure missing and also a lack of fall protection.

“Falls from a height can cause catastrophic injury to workers and it is important that scaffolding on every site is not only installed correctly but regularly checked and maintained,” Mr Jones said.

“There have been more than 470 claims for workers compensation lodged in the ACT relating to falls from heights since 2014 and a number of significant incidents have been investigated by WorkSafe ACT.

“Sadly, many of these incidents could have been prevented. We all have a role to play in keeping workers safe, and scaffolding needs to remain a key priority.”

A copy of the report is attached and can also be found at:

- Statement ends -

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