SA: unauthorised alteration to a scaffold leads to serious injury

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.
Wednesday, 20 April, 2022 - 12:15
Incidents & prosecutions
South Australia

SafeWork SA recently issued an expiation notice to a residential builder for directing a worker to undertake high-risk work without the appropriate high-risk work licence.

On 30 March 2022, SafeWork SA issued a residential builder a fine of $2220 for directing a worker to modify a scaffold without seeing written evidence the worker held the relevant high-risk work licence.

The modular scaffold on site had a 4.9-metre high working platform which requires a person to hold at least a basic scaffold high-risk work licence.

The recently released Managing Risk of Falls in Residential Construction 2021 proactive compliance campaign report identified 53 scaffold types used at 45 workplaces.

Only 19 per cent of these scaffolds met compliance while 35 per cent of prohibition notices issued were on scaffolds with unauthorised alterations.

These alterations presented an imminent or immediate risk to a worker’s health and safety.

Builders were reminded to speak with their contractors to ensure scaffold erection and alterations are undertaken by a competent person. Scaffolds with a work platform of 4 metres or more must only be altered by a person who holds the relevant high-risk work licence.

SafeWork SA executive director, Martyn Campbell said that the expiation, issued to the business is a result of their disregard for their duty of care.

“The modular scaffold had originally been built by a high-risk work licence holder, so there was no excuse for alteration work to be undertaken by an unlicenced worker,” he said.

“This incident clearly demonstrates that unauthorised alteration to a scaffold is dangerous and SafeWork SA will not hesitate to take action against businesses that direct or allow high-risk work to be undertaken by unlicensed workers.”