Warning to check condition of work platforms

Monday, 09 March, 2009

A self-employed plasterer sustained serious head and back injuries after he fell over 4 m from a framed scaffold at a two-storey residential construction site in Western Australia.

The erected scaffold had mesh-panel type edge protection along the working platform. These mesh panels were attached to the guardrail posts of the scaffold by way of butt welded locating tags.

At the time of the accident, the plasterer was leaning against the mesh panel when one of the locating tags snapped at the weld, creating an open edge.

Commenting on the incident, the West Australian Department of Commence reminds employers and workers of several factors to consider:

  • The age and condition of locating tag attachments on mesh panels;
  • Rust around weld areas to scaffold components;
  • Cracking to weld areas of scaffold components;
  • Maintenance of scaffold components;
  • Site conditions such as corrosive locations (proximity to the coast).

The department also made a number of recommendations:

  • Incorporate a quality control system for the delivery, return and maintenance of scaffolding;
  • Record all tests, maintenance, inspections, commissioning and alterations to scaffold components;
  • Ensure scaffolding from which a person or object could fall more than 4 m is inspected by a competent person at least every 30 days;
  • Ensure that scaffold equipment for use at a workplace complies with the relevant requirements of AS/NZS 1576 parts 1 to 6;
  • Conduct a risk assessment prior to using erected scaffolding.
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