The Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities
(HWSA)1 has recently launched a
national OHS compliance campaign in relation to
scaffolding.2 The campaign is focused on achieving three
Increasing the level of scaffold compliance with AS 1576 within
the construction industry;
Providing a baseline on the current level with which
scaffolding is being erected and maintained in compliance with AS
Identifying the reasons for non-compliance with AS 1576.
Why is there a campaign about scaffolding?
The campaign is being undertaken following a number of recent
incidents involving scaffolding in NSW, Queensland and Victoria,
which have resulted in death or serious injury. Other significant
consequences of these incidents include:
"near misses" for members of the public;
closure of roads and disruption to adjacent businesses;
disruption to public transport and vehicle traffic;
inconvenience to the public; and
cessation of building works for considerable periods of
What will the campaign involve?
The campaign will be an Inspector-delivered operational
compliance campaign with at least 800 site inspections. Data will
be collected from each of these sites using a checklist sheet. More
specifically, the campaign will be run in two separate stages:
Site inspections to enforce AS 1576 and identify reasons for
Site inspections to determine the level of continued compliance
with AS 1576.
The campaign will cover all types of scaffolding including:
The campaign will not cover scaffolding that is less than 2m in
height (from working platforms) or workplaces that are not
HWSA safety campaigns are generally run with an intention to
educate industry through a balance of information, assistance and
enforcement activity. There has been no indication from regulators
as to the approach to be taken in this particular campaign. Given
that the OHS regulatory authorities consider the risks associated
with scaffolding to be very serious following recent incidents it
is likely that enforcement action will be taken in cases involving
anything more than the most minor non-compliance.
The current timetable for the campaign indicates that
Stage 1 will be undertaken between 1 August and 30
September. This stage will involve 795 site visits across
NSW, Victoria, Queensland, SA, WA, NT and Tasmania with 250 of
those visits in NSW, 200 in both Victoria and Queensland and 50 in
both Western Australia and South Australia.
The current timetable suggests that inspections for
Stage 2 will commence on 1 April 2010. These
inspections will aim to identify long term compliance issues by
collecting data on whether compliance has continued following Stage
Key messages of the campaign
The HWSA has indicated the key messages for authorities liaising
with their stakeholders during the campaign.
The campaign is designed to ensure compliance with
existing workplace safety laws in relation to
Increase industry awareness of the safety issues associated
with using unsafe scaffolding;
Recent incidents have highlighted a need to be vigilant when
erecting, altering, using and dismantling scaffolding; and
A wide range of trades that use scaffolding are exposed to
significant risks of death and injury when the scaffolding does not
comply with AS 1576.
What should you do?
If you are involved in the design, supply, erection or use of
scaffolding at a construction site or if you are you manage or
control a construction site where scaffolding is being used then
you should immediately review the safety of that scaffolding to
ensure that it complies with AS 1576 before inspections commence on
1 August 2009.
If you would like to discuss scaffolding or any other OHS issue
affecting your business, please contact one of Deacons' OHS
1 The HWSA is a group comprising representatives of the
peak bodies responsible for OHS regulation and administration in
Australia and New Zealand.
2 WorkCover NSW, WorkSafe Victoria, Workplace Health and
Safety Queensland, WorkSafe Western Australia, SafeWork SA,
WorkSafe NT and Workplace Standards Tasmania have all committed
resources to the campaign.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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