Scaffolding audit finds serious safety concerns across ACT construction sites

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Photo: SafetyCulture Library

A recent proactive audit of scaffolding across ACT construction sites has unearthed serious safety concerns.

Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones said the WorkSafe ACT audit identified some common concerns which were troubling, considering the high risks associated with working at height.

He said total compliance levels varied from 58 percent to 89 percent.

WorkSafe ACT inspected scaffolding across 26 construction sites between March and May 2017, resulting in three Prohibition Notices and three Improvement Notices in the residential sector.

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.

WorkSafe ACT said it will conduct a follow-up audit to check on compliance and where repeat breaches or on-going compliance issues are identified, the safety agency will not hesitate to take regulatory action.

“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.”

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