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Formwork safety

Following the failure of a formwork deck during an active concrete pour on a construction site in Canberra in early 2020, a national working group agreed on a country-wide response to the incident.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland conducted formwork audits in late 2020 which focused on compliance with the Formwork Code of Practice 2016 (Queensland is the only jurisdiction with a formwork code of practice). Our inspectors looked at 116 formwork installations and while most were compliant, there were issues on just over a third of them. Almost half of the issues related to design and maintenance.

A quarter of the non-compliances identified related to the engineering specifications or documents. For example, the designer’s safety report outlining the hazards associated with the design was not available; formwork drawings were not available or did not include the maximum point loadings for stacked materials on a deck; an engineer’s certificate was not available for non-proprietary equipment, variations or mix and match components, and some installations were inconsistent with the design documentation.

Another 19 per cent of issues related to the formwork structure itself. Common issues identified were access and egress, missing stretcher stairs, how the formwork was built, and damaged formwork components. Inspectors issued 83 notices and another 21 non-compliances were rectified while they were on site.

Read the Formwork Code of Practice 2016 (PDF, 1.32 MB).