Prioritise scaffolding safety to avoid public liability injury claims

Date: May 22, 2015

It's not uncommon for scaffolding to be found in public areas and while this is a necessary part of the construction process, it also puts passers-by at extreme risk.

A recent incident in New South Wales saw not only workers put in harm's way when scaffolding collapsed onto a public street, but also others in the vicinity. The builders had recently reconfigured the structure during the final stages of a project, without following the relevant guidelines.

WorkCover NSW is therefore warning site managers to ensure that all scaffolding is safe, no matter whether it's being erected for the first time, or relocated as it was in this instance. Failure to do so could not only cause injury to workers, but lead to public liability injury claims.

What you need to know

As a result of this incident, WorkSafe NSW has issued a number of guidelines that should be followed by anyone using scaffolding. These include:

• Making sure the scaffolding is out of the way of any on-site machinery or vehicles that could potentially cause damage. Even the most minor of collisions can threaten the integrity of the structure, so separating it from the rest of the site is the most appropriate course of action.

• Finding a solid supporting structure will ensure that the scaffolding is not going to shift. This should be determined by a competent person, or, failing that, by consulting an engineer or manufacturer.

• Providing the necessary worker training will make sure everyone on site knows how to work around and on the scaffolding. All it takes is for one person to disregard the rules and the public could be put at extreme risk – and not to mention their colleagues.

• Imposing loadings is critical, as this will make workers aware of how much weight a structure can cope with at any one time. Exceeding this limit could be extremely hazardous, especially to anyone passing underneath the structure.

• Being aware of the duty rating of the scaffold is good practice on any construction site. Structures are usually categorised as light, medium or heavy duty – and there's also a special rating as well. This will determine the number of decks that can be loaded within a particular bay, which needs to be adhered to at all times.

If you have been injured as a result of improperly configured scaffolding or any other aspect of a building site, be sure to speak to our team. We're experienced in pursuing public liability claims and will help seek the compensation you deserve.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.