Scaffolding — a quick look at Good Practice Guidelines for site management


Scaffolding work usually occurs within a larger context, and can be impacted by other activities and Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) on the site.

Plan for and manage these activities in consultation with other PCBUs and workers.

Site management includes everything from ensuring there are the right facilities, Personal Protective Equipment, and equipment to do the work, to site-specific issues such as traffic management or containment of hazardous substances.

All risks associated with the work, including any connected work such as construction, must also be controlled so they do not cause harm to anyone.


Safe system of work

Implement a safe system of work before work starts. This ensures the work happens in the right location with the right plant and equipment on site, and with the right workers with relevant competencies.

Make sure to engage with workers carrying out the work and their representatives when developing the safe system of work.

If you are working with other PCBUs, co-operate, co-ordinate and consult with them so far as is reasonably practicable.

A safe system of work should include:

engaging workers

assigning responsibilities

a safe work method statement

consulting a competent person regarding any temporary works design

identifying any health and safety hazards and risks

carrying out a risk assessment

describing how you will control any identified risks

describing how controls will be implemented, monitored and reviewed

communication systems

accident investigation and reporting methods

emergency procedures.


Site assessment before work begins

To undertake a site assessment, consider the following:

What is the purpose of the scaffold, and who will be using it?

What is the nature of the ground, surface or structure on which the scaffold is to be erected? Does it need to be verified for load-bearing capacity?

How will the scaffold be stabilised from overturning? If it will be tied to a structure, how will this be done?

Will the scaffold be subject to environmental loads such as funnelling wind, vehicle impact, or snow?

How will workers and vehicles access the site and the area for storage of material and equipment?

Does the scaffolding create risk for workers on or around it?

Are there electrical conductors or cables in the vicinity of the scaffold? Could the scaffold or workers come into contact with them at any stage of the scaffolding process? That could include delivering scaffolding equipment to the site, erection, associated scaffolding use and work activity, and eventual dismantling/removal from site.

Is there sufficient space to erect the scaffold and store scaffold materials?

Is the scaffold to be erected on a public roadway or footpath, and what are the local authority requirements?

How will the site be protected from unauthorised access?

Is pedestrian access through the site required? How will this be managed?

Is a specific traffic management plan required?

Are there any other potential hazards specific to the site?

Does the work need to be notified to WorkSafe? Should anyone else be notified?


Arrival of materials on site

Examine all equipment on arrival at the site.

Stack scaffold components in an appropriate and secure location on site, particularly when work is above or near to a public thoroughfare.

Do not use defective or damaged items. Remove any found from the site as soon as possible.

Confirm that foundations and ground conditions are adequate for the load of the scaffold.

Examine the building or structure. If there are concerns about tie positions etc, obtain advice before continuing.


Equipment inspection

Used scaffolding equipment should be inspected before use to identify items that are unsuitable or that fail to comply with relevant standards or supplier’s or manufacturer’s guidelines.

Bent or damaged scaffold tube must not be straightened for re-use. Bent sections must be cut out or discarded. Unauthorised repairs or alterations of equipment may lead to catastrophic failure.


Securing the work area

Site security should consider all risks to workers and others. Establish the work activity’s boundary before securing the work area.

Each work activity may be smaller than the whole workplace, so as each work activity moves, its boundary moves with it. As the work boundary moves, so far as is reasonably practicable, eliminate (or minimise, where elimination is not possible) risk to workers and others outside the work activity.

Other people near the work have a responsibility to take reasonable care that their actions (or lack of actions) do not put themselves or others at risk.

They must also comply with any reasonable instruction given by the PCBU, as far as they are reasonably able to.

When organising site security and site access, consider:

warning or hazard signs

supervising authorised visitors.


Other planning consideration

Planning considerations should include discussions on:


service mark-outs and locations

site-specific documentation, which could include health and safety policy, summary worksite safety plan, worksite emergency procedures, worksite safety induction cards, visitor and worksite induction register, accident/incident register, including near misses, injury/ill-health/incident reporting, hazard identification, site-specific risk assessment, and safe or standard operating procedures

quality plan

overhead services and underground service plans

construction plans

nature or condition of the ground

weather conditions (eg time of year, expected conditions)

• interaction with other PCBUs

• site access and security

• traffic management and public safety

• type of plant and equipment to be used

• provision of adequate facilities for workers.

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