QLD: new scaffolding rules for building workers

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Sunday, 11 July, 2021 - 11:15
Policy & legislation

New rules around scaffolding recently took effect in Queensland with a revised code of practice designed to make working on scaffolds much safer, according to QLD Minister for Industrial Relations Grace Grace.

“Construction activity has increased substantially in recent years and so has the potentially high-risk activity of using scaffolds,” she said.

“More than 60 workers every year are seriously injured using scaffolding, with their workers' compensation claims requiring five or more days off work.

“The code brings a raft of features to substantially boost safety for workers.

“In particular, reducing the step height between scaffolds and working platforms addresses a significant risk of falls.”

The key changes include:

  • new entry and exit requirements for scaffolds to allow emergency stretcher retrievals
  • a requirement for engineers, rather than scaffolders, to design and sign off on scaffolds
  • a smaller step height between scaffold stairs and work platforms
  • more detailed requirements around managing the risk of debris, falling objects and hazardous substances
  • regular testing of scaffold welds.

Master Builders workplace health and safety manager Melanie Dawson said the changes to the code were an important step in addressing construction industry safety and are supported by WHS experts.

“We will work closely with government and industry on the introduction of the Code as there will be an inevitable cost posed on industry; however, codes of practice are important in addressing serious safety concerns and providing safe workplaces for everyone,” said Dawson.

It has been close to 10 years since the current work health and safety laws commenced, and in that time nearly 6000 notices have been issued for non-compliant scaffolding.

These notices have led to fines totalling around $150,000.