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Scaffold inspections are among the many critical safety checks during construction projects. The purpose of a scaffold is simple, to let tradesmen work in elevated areas while mitigating as much risk as possible. However, ignoring safety procedures around a scaffold will greatly increase the risk of injury and death.
A scaffold inspection will identify and amend issues to ensure the structure’s integrity. Below, we review the checklist and guidelines for a basic inspection.
On any site, owners, managers, and contractors share primary responsibility for health and safety. All parties must ensure no work begins on the scaffold until written confirmation by a competent person. A competent person is usually a scaffolding professional who identifies hazards and outlines tasks to mitigate them. AUSF recommend hiring a competent person to inspect the tower even when the fall height is less than four metres.
A scaffolding supplier is also a responsible party too. Companies must be able to supply documentation proving all parts are tested and follow Australian standards. Companies providing labour must be able to prove their workforce holds working at heights and scaffold assembly qualifications.
The Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 states that for any worksite found ignoring safety standards or skipping inspections:
· Individuals can be fined up to $6,000; and
· Companies can be fined up to $30,000.
Scaffolding Inspection Procedure
Regular inspections ensure a scaffolding structure remains safe to use for the duration of the project. Regular checks must be after erection but before use and every 30 days following the original sign-off. Inspections must also be done:
· After an adverse weather event;
· After a previous incident; and
· Following repair works.
If a health and safety risk is found, the scaffold must undergo alterations, maintenance, or additions before a follow-up inspection to check if the hazard has been handled. Only when an inspection is done that workers can resume using the structure. In the meantime, access to the incomplete or unauthorised tower is restricted.
The handover follows after assembling the scaffold to ensure its safety. Written confirmation and a handover certificate will be supplied if the structure’s integrity meets standards. Another certificate is required after additional work or repairs and must be held until the scaffold is dismantled.
Repeat inspections will vary depending on size, but the general rule is every 30 days when there is a fall risk of four metres. Records of scaffold inspections must be kept on-site near the structure for the duration of the build. Records should include the date, location, design and specifications, and the inspector’s name. A comprehensive paper trail will help authorities, and responsible parties should an accident occur. The information can assist in determining the cause and party at fault.
Scaffold Tags attach to the base of the scaffolding and highlight to passing workers that the structure is unsafe to use. Tags include details such as the start date of assembly and load rating per bay. Scaffolders must place tags at every access point to the incomplete or unsafe scaffold. Although recommended, they are not mandatory once the scaffold is complete and a handover certificate is readily available.
Failing to adhere to scaffold tag requirements raises the risk of workers injuring themselves by climbing unsafe scaffolding.
The chance of a scaffolding collapse will greatly increase without sufficient inspection. Companies following guidelines ensure the integrity of their tools and allow construction workers to enter a safer worksite.
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