WorkCover urges employers to prevent scaffolding collapses

Published 05 Jun 2015

WorkCover NSW has warned companies to evaluate their scaffolding safety processes in order to prevent serious accidents. The organisation released a media alert after two support structures recently collapsed in the state.

The first incident involved a scaffold falling on a public street, leading to worker injuries and a potential risk to the public. A second collapse saw a platform drop onto a laneway and nearby homes, although no one was reported as hurt.

Workplace accidents can lead to total and permanent disabilities (TPDs) or, in worst-case scenarios, the death of an employee. Construction is particularly hazardous, with Safe Work Australia data showing nine fatalities in the industry already this year.

Compensation may be available to those who are injured in the workplace, which is why making a TPD claim or pursuing income protection is often worthwhile.

According to WorkCover, building companies must be aware of their health and safety obligations if they conduct high-risk construction projects. Scaffolding often falls under this banner, as workers can fall from heights of more than two metres. 

WorkCover therefore highlighted a number of precautions to minimise the chance of a scaffolding collapse.

Preventative measures

There are various ways to make scaffolding more secure. Specifically, companies must use scaffolds that are designed for the task for which they are being erected.

"Ensure the scaffold remains stable and supports the loadings imposed at all times - for example, during erection, in situ, during and after any alterations, and when dismantling," WorkCover advised.

"Develop systems of work that allow construction activities, such as bricklaying, painting, rendering, glazing and cladding installation to be completed without unplanned changes to, or removal of, scaffold ties."

Two ways of achieving this are to gradually work down a structure and dismantle the scaffold along the way or tie the platforms directly to the building to prevent interference.

Comprehensive training for workers, warning signs and a safe work method statement are also recommended to reduce the chance of a collapse. WorkCover suggested asking qualified employees to inspect scaffolds regularly to ensure unauthorised personnel haven't made any changes.

"Ensure the scaffold is adequately tied to its supporting structure, in accordance with instructions from a competent person - if this is not possible, consult with the scaffold designer, manufacturer, supplier or an engineer," the organisation added.

If you would like to discuss whether or not you may be entitled to compensation or benefits due to a workplace accident, please contact superannuation dispute lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners.

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