Victoria joins national campaign to improve scaffold safety

Thursday, 30 July, 2009

A WorkSafe campaign to improve scaffolding safety, beginning 1 August and continuing until the end of September, will see a crackdown on Victorian construction companies. WorkSafe inspectors will be visiting residential and commercial construction sites across the state to ensure safe work procedures are in place to address risks involved with the erection and use of scaffolding.

Director of WorkSafe’s Construction and Utilities Division Chris Webb said the scaffolding collapse at Prahran in February and similar recent incidents in Queensland and NSW were behind the national effort.

Commercial Road, Prahran was closed in February when a multistorey scaffold collapsed, narrowly missing road traffic including trams, buses and pedestrians. Several workers were hurt as they rode the scaffold to the ground. In October 2007 another scaffold collapsed into Exhibition Street, Melbourne, again narrowly missing pedestrians. Parked cars were crushed in both incidents.

“At every stage — design, erection, during the work phase, particularly if alterations are made to the scaffold and dismantling — it is essential to ensure the safety of workers and the public is maintained,” Webb said. “Inspectors will raise awareness of safety issues relating to scaffolding and improve the ability of contractors, employers and workers to identify, assess and control the hazards and risks associated with scaffolding.

“The campaign is also designed to increase the capability across all trades linked to construction to identify, assess and control the risks of working with scaffolding.

“Scaffold safety doesn’t just involve those who put it up and pull it down, but also those who use the scaffold such as form workers, bricklayers, roofers and painters,” Webb said.

Apart from dealing with immediate safety issues, the campaign will provide workplace health and safety regulators with information on which future activity will be based.

The campaign will focus on ensuring construction site scaffolding complies with AS 1576 and AS 4576 for prefabricated, aluminium, trestle and swing stage scaffolds. The campaign supports the National OHS Strategy 2002-2012 to facilitate the development of consistent approaches to agreed Australian and New Zealand workplace safety priorities.

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