Potential for dangerous scaffolding collapse

Advice

4 July 2019

Following a recent incident where a component failed while workers were erecting a scaffold in Melbourne, WorkSafe Victoria issued a warning to users about this potentially dangerous issue.

Workplace inspectors attended a St. Kilda construction site after a scaffold ledger came away from a newly purchased scaffold standard while it was being set up. This raises concerns about potentially faulty components of some scaffold equipment.

Safety issues

V-pressings are important components in scaffold construction (see Image 1). They are welded to the scaffold standard to form a ‘star,’ and are the point at which scaffold transoms, ledgers and hop up brackets attach.

When the welded connection holding the V-pressing to the standard failed, the scaffold became unsafe. It is suspected that the V-pressing welded connection may have been faulty (see Images 2 and 3).

Failure of a V-pressing can cause the working platform to collapse, possibly resulting in serious injuries to any person on or around the scaffold.

photo of V-pressing are standard scaffolding components

Image 1: V-pressing are standard scaffolding components

Recommended ways to control risk

WorkSafe advises that duty holders should:

  • prior to use, inspect all scaffold components to ensure they are working and in good order
  • inspect all scaffold components between each hiring or leasing

check:

  • that V-pressings are welded to scaffold standards correctly
  • that weld beads are consistent and entirely capture the ends of the V-pressing
  • for signs of rust that appears to originate from under or within the weld.
  • provide workers erecting scaffolding with information, instruction, and training, and ensure that only suitably competent people do this work.

photo of damaged v pressing

Images 2 and 3: Examples of damaged V pressing

Legal duties

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, employers must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees. This includes identifying risks to health and safety and eliminating or reducing those risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employers must, as far as is reasonably practicable, provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are safe and without risks to health.

Suppliers of plant have obligations to inspect and maintain plant between hiring or leasing to ensure risks are eliminated or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.

Further information

Australian Standard AS 1576 Series is also relevant.

For further information contact WorkSafe ACT on 13 22 81 or email WorkSafe@act.gov.au.

This Alert contains information emerging during an investigation by WorkSafe ACT into the mentioned incident at the date of this report. The information contained in this report does not necessarily reflect the final outcome of WorkSafe’s views or proposed actions with respect to this incident. WorkSafe ACT does not warrant the information in this report is complete or up-to date and does not accept any liability to any person for the information in this report, or its use.

On this page