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Anyone with management or control of a scaffold at a workplace has an obligation to make sure that the scaffold is safely used and that it remains safe until it is removed from the workplace.
The below information gives builders, contractors and workers in the residential construction industry guidance for ensuring that scaffolds are safely used and maintained after hand over by the scaffolder.
Persons using a scaffold need to be made aware of the importance of using the scaffold safely and of maintaining its integrity. They also need to be adequately supervised to ensure safe work practices are followed. Instruction and training about safe work practices, including emergency procedures, can be provided during site inductions, toolbox meetings or other means.
Workers using a scaffold also have an obligation to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work. This includes not interfering with, or misusing a scaffold.
Good housekeeping practices when working on a scaffold are essential to prevent workplace injuries. Objects and debris left on a scaffold can fall and seriously injure workers and others.
Everyone using a scaffold to undertake their work activities needs to:
Safe and clear access and egress must be maintained at points of access and along access platforms, ladders, stairs and work platforms.
Loading of platforms must not exceed their rated duty loads. Scaffold users need to understand the loading limitations applicable to the type of scaffold.
Maximum load and the maximum number of working platforms that can be simultaneously loaded and worked from should be stated in the handover certificate or scaffold tag. If not, seek this information from the supplier.
Unauthorised use and alteration of scaffolds are major sources of scaffold failure and injury. Scaffold users must understand the safe use and restrictions relating to the scaffold.
Mobile plant and vehicle traffic are hazards that can potentially affect the structural integrity and safety of a scaffold. A risk assessment should be carried out and the scaffold protected against impact if the risk assessment deems it necessary.
Protection methods include:
Following initial inspection and handover, scaffolds need to be inspected a number of times while on site to determine the need for any modifications or repairs that may be required to keep the scaffolds in a serviceable condition.
The person inspecting the scaffold should be capable of determining incorrect alterations and faults in scaffolds. Obvious issues that should trigger a comprehensive inspection include:
Scaffolds should also be reinspected following repairs.
In the absence of more specific requirements of the local workplace health and safety authority, inspections at intervals not exceeding 30 days should be carried out on scaffolds from which a person or thing could fall more than 4 metres, and on hung scaffolds, suspended scaffolds, cantilevered scaffolds and spur scaffolds.
Any issues found need to be addressed prior to any further use of the scaffold and workers prevented from using the scaffold pending rectification.
Scaffolds that are faulty or incomplete, or scaffolds that are left unattended, need to be managed to prevent people gaining access to the scaffold, e.g., by removing ladder access and posting “SCAFFOLD INCOMPLETE – DO NOT USE” signs at points of access.
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