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What is a scaffold?

What is a scaffold?
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 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 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
How can risks be managed?
Use the following steps to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other
people are not exposed to health and safety risks.
Find out what could cause harm. The following can help you identify potential hazards:

Cert no HZL.W0223
- Observe the workplace to identify areas where scaffolds are used or scaffolding work is
performed and where there is interaction with vehicles, pedestrians and fixed structures.
- Look at the environment in which the scaffold is to be used including checking ground
conditions.
- Identify the major functional requirements of the scaffold like the maximum live and dead
loads and access requirements.
- Inspect the scaffolding before and after use.
- Ask your workers about any problems they encounter or anticipate at your workplace when
constructing or interacting with scaffolds and scaffolding work-consider operation,
inspection, maintenance, repair, transport and storage requirements.
- Inspect the erected scaffold.
- Review your incident and injury records including near misses.
Take action to control the risk. The work health and safety laws require a business or
undertaking do all that is reasonably practicable to eliminate or minimise risks.
The ways of controlling risks are ranked from the highest level of protection and reliability to the
lowest. This ranking is known as the hierarchy of risk control. You must work through this
hierarchy to manage risks.
The first thing to consider is whether hazards can be completely removed from the workplace. For
example, risks can be eliminated by carrying out work at ground level or on completed floors of a
building.
If it is not reasonably practicable to completely eliminate the risk then consider the following
options in the order they appear below to minimise risks, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- substitute the hazard for something safer e.g. using mechanical aids like cranes, hoists,
pallet jacks or trolleys to move equipment and materials wherever possible instead of
manually lifting scaffolding
- isolate the hazard from people e.g. install concrete barriers to separate pedestrians and
powered mobile plant from scaffolds to minimise the risk of collision, and
- use engineering controls e.g. provide toeboards, perimeter containment sheeting or
overhead protective structures to prevent objects falling hitting workers or other people
below the work area.

Cert no HZL.W0223
If after implementing the above control measures a risk still remains, consider the following
controls in the order below to minimise the remaining risk, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- use administrative controls e.g. storing scaffolding as close as practical to the work area to
minimise the distance over which loads are manually moved, and
- use personal protective equipment (PPE) e.g. hard hats, protective hand and footwear and
high visibility vests.
A combination of the controls set out above may be used if a single control is not enough to
minimise the risks.
You need to consider all possible control measures and make a decision about which are
reasonably practicable for your workplace. Deciding what is reasonably practicable includes the
availability and suitability of control measures, with a preference for using substitution, isolation or
engineering controls to minimise risks before using administrative controls or PPE. Cost may also
be relevant, but you can only consider this after all other factors have been taken into account.
Assess the risk. In many cases the risks and related control measures will be well known.
In other cases you may need to carry out a risk assessment to identify the likelihood of somebody
being harmed by the hazard and how serious the harm could be. A risk assessment can help you
determine what action you should take to control the risk and how urgently the action needs to be
taken.
Take action to control the risk. The work health and safety laws require a business or
undertaking do all that is reasonably practicable to eliminate or minimise risks.
The ways of controlling risks are ranked from the highest level of protection and reliability to the
lowest. This ranking is known as the hierarchy of risk control. You must work through this
hierarchy to manage risks.
The first thing to consider is whether hazards can be completely removed from the workplace. For
example, risks can be eliminated by carrying out work at ground level or on completed floors of a
building.
If it is not reasonably practicable to completely eliminate the risk then consider the following
options in the order they appear below to minimise risks, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- substitute the hazard for something safer e.g. using mechanical aids like cranes, hoists,
pallet jacks or trolleys to move equipment and materials wherever possible instead of
manually lifting scaffolding
- isolate the hazard from people e.g. install concrete barriers to separate pedestrians and
powered mobile plant from scaffolds to minimise the risk of collision, and

Cert no HZL.W0223
- use engineering controls e.g. provide toeboards, perimeter containment sheeting or
overhead protective structures to prevent objects falling hitting workers or other people
below the work area.
If after implementing the above control measures a risk still remains, consider the following
controls in the order below to minimise the remaining risk, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- use administrative controls e.g. storing scaffolding as close as practical to the work area to
minimise the distance over which loads are manually moved, and
- use personal protective equipment (PPE) e.g. hard hats, protective hand and footwear and
high visibility vests.
A combination of the controls set out above may be used if a single control is not enough to
minimise the risks.
You need to consider all possible control measures and make a decision about which are
reasonably practicable for your workplace. Deciding what is reasonably practicable includes the
availability and suitability of control measures, with a preference for using substitution, isolation or
engineering controls to minimise risks before using administrative controls or PPE. Cost may also
be relevant, but you can only consider this after all other factors have been taken into account.
Check your control measures regularly to ensure they are working as planned. Control
measures need to be regularly reviewed to make sure they remain effective, taking into
consideration any changes, the nature and duration of work and that the system is working as
planned.







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