Scaffolding

A scaffold is any temporary structure specifically erected to support access or working platforms, and includes:

  • modular or prefabricated scaffold
  • tube and coupler scaffold
  • cantilevered scaffold
  • spur scaffold
  • hung scaffold
  • suspended scaffold.

The erection, alteration, use and dismantling of scaffold exposes workers to the risk of a serious fall or being struck by falling objects, such as scaffold components, tools, or in the event of a collapse, the entire scaffold.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland carried out a compliance campaign targeting the safe erection, alteration, use and dismantling of scaffold over 2009 and 2010. A follow-up campaign targeting swing stage scaffolds specifically was conducted in 2012.

Swing stage scaffold qualifications

The users (being the workers who operate the hoist) of the swing stage scaffold must complete the Course in the safe use of swing stage scaffold. It would be expected that there are two users in the stage operating the hoists and the engineer would be a third person. Prior to performing this work, it must be determined that the weight of three people in the stage does not exceed the safe working load (SWL) of the stage.

Note: Engineers' using a swing stage scaffold to undertake inspections of the outside of a structure is not required to complete the Course in the safe use of swing stage scaffold.

Scaffolding hop-up bracket tie bars

In Queensland, there have been a number of incidents where tie bars have become inadvertently detached and workers have either fallen or been struck by a falling tie bar.

Find out more about scaffolding hop-up bracket tie bars.

Zip ties on scaffolding

In Queensland zip ties are being increasingly used in applications on scaffolding where the scaffolding manufacturer does not make reference to their use.

Find out more about zip ties on scaffolding.

Legislation

The specific requirements for scaffold and scaffolding work are located in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, Part 5.1, Subdivision 3 – Additional control measures for particular plant and Part 6.3, Subdivision 4 – Scaffolding and are summarised below.

The Scaffolding Code of Practice 2009 provides guidance on managing the risks associated with scaffolding.

Specific legislative requirements for scaffold and scaffolding work

High risk work licence

Scaffolding work is defined as high risk work and requires users to be appropriately licensed. Scaffolding work is divided into three levels (basic, intermediate and advanced) recognising the different levels of risk and the different techniques required for certain types of scaffolding.

View information about obtaining a high risk work licence for scaffolding work.

WHS Regulation 2011, s81 and schedule 3 – High risk work licences and classes of high risk work

Safe work method statements

Safe work method statements are required for all high risk construction work, including any construction work that involves the risk of a person falling more than two metres.

WHS Regulation 2011, s291 and s299

Scaffold – written confirmation from a competent person

The person with management or control of a scaffold at a workplace must ensure that it is not used unless they receive written confirmation from a competent person that the construction of the scaffold has been completed.

WHS Regulation 2011, s225(2)

Scaffold – inspection by a competent person

The person with management or control of a scaffold at a workplace must ensure that the scaffold and its supporting structure are inspected by a competent person:

  • before it is used
  • before use is resumed after an incident that may reasonably be expected to affect the stability of the scaffold
  • before use is resumed after repairs
  • at least every 30 days.

If an inspection indicates that the scaffold or the supporting structure creates a risk to health and safety then any necessary repairs, alterations and additions must be carried out.

The scaffold and its supporting structure must be inspected by a competent person again before use is resumed.

WHS Regulation 2011, s225(3) and (4)

Scaffold – unauthorised access

The person with management or control of a scaffold at a workplace must prevent unauthorised access to any incomplete or unattended scaffold.

WHS Regulation 2011, s225(5)

Erecting scaffolding

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must not erect or allow another person to erect scaffolding if there is a risk a person could fall three metres, for housing construction, or two metres for all other types of construction unless:

  • a control measure prevents a person from falling
  • a fall arrest harness system is used, or
  • the PCBU otherwise complies with r306P(4).

Note 1: r306P(4) describes a specific process for scaffolding erection that minimises the risk of a fall.

Note 2: A PCBU must still manage the risk of a fall at any height under Part 4.4 Falls.

WHS Regulation 2011, s306P

Dismantling scaffolding

A PCBU must not dismantle or allow another person to dismantle scaffolding a there is a risk a person could fall three metres, for housing construction, or two metres for all other types of construction unless:

  • a control measure prevents a person from falling
  • a fall arrest harness system is used, or
  • the PCBU otherwise complies with s306Q(3)(b).

Note 1: s306Q(3)(b) describes a specific process for scaffolding erection that minimises the risk of a fall.

Note 2: A PCBU must still manage the risk of a fall at any height under Part 4.4 Falls.

WHS Regulation 2011, s306Q

Notifiable incidents

Dangerous incidents, such as the collapse or partial collapse of a structure (e.g. a scaffold) or the fall or release from a height of any plant, substance or thing (e.g. scaffold component), must be notified to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

View additional information about the notification of dangerous incidents, including the notification form.

WHS Act 2011, s35, s36, s37, s38 and s39

Last updated
27 July 2017