What is a scaffold, scaffolding and scaffolding work? A scaffold is a temporary structure erected to support access or working platforms. Scaffolds are commonly used in construction work so workers have a safe, stable work platform when work cannot be done at ground level or on a finished floor. Scaffolding in this Guide means the individual components, for example tubes, couplers or frames and materials that when assembled form a scaffold. Scaffolding is classified as plant under Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act. Scaffolding work is erecting, altering or dismantling a temporary structure erected to support a platform and from which a person or object could fall more than 4 metres from the platform or the structure. Scaffolding work must be undertaken by a person holding the appropriate class of high risk work licence. This definition applies whenever the term ‘scaffolding work’ is used in this Guide.

Who should use this Guide?

You should use this Guide if you own, hire, lease, handle, store, transport, maintain, use scaffolds and scaffolding or manage scaffolding work in the workplace. You should read this Guide in conjunction with the Code of Practice:

Construction work. Who has duties under the law?

Everyone in the workplace has work health and safety duties. A range of people have specific responsibilities for scaffolds and scaffolding including:

  • designers
  •  scaffolding contractors and workers who carry out scaffolding work, and
  •  principal contractors for a ‘construction project’ where the cost of construction work is $250 000 or more.



A person      conducting a business or undertaking

A person conducting a business or undertaking has the primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, workers and other people are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking. This duty requires the person to manage risks by eliminating health and safety risks so far as is reasonably practicable, and if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risks, by minimising those risks so far as is reasonably practicable. It also includes ensuring so far as is reasonably practicable the:

„ provision and maintenance of safe scaffolding and scaffolds

„ safe erection, alteration, dismantling and use of scaffolds, and

„ safe use, handling, storage and transport of scaffolding.

The WHS Regulations include specific duties for a person conducting a business or undertaking with management or control of scaffolding plant, powered mobile plant and plant that lifts or suspends loads.

Designers, manufacturers, suppliers and importers
Designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of scaffolding or scaffolds must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the plant or structure they design, manufacture, import or supply is without risks to health and safety. This duty includes carrying out analysis, testing or an examination and providing specific information about the plant. Information must, so far as is reasonably practicable, be passed on from the designer through to the manufacturer and supplier to the end user. 
People installing, constructing or commissioning plant or structures
People installing, constructing or commissioning scaffolding or scaffolds must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, all workplace activity relating to the plant or structure including its decommissioning or dismantling is without risks to health or safety. In this Guide the scaffolding contractor is the person responsible for installing, constructing and commissioning scaffolds.
Officers
Officers, such as company directors, have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure the business or undertaking complies with the WHS Act and Regulations. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure the business or undertaking has and uses appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks from plant.
Workers and others
Workers and other people at the workplace must take reasonable care for their own health and safety, co-operate with reasonable policies, procedures and instructions and not adversely affect other people’s health and safety.


How can risks be managed?
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What is the standard that applies to mobile scaffolding and moving platforms?
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