State’s scaffolds under scrutiny

SafeWork inspectors will be visiting construction sites across NSW to inspect scaffold structures, issuing on-the-spot fines and stop-work notices for failure to comply with NSW’s safety standards.

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said there would be a zero-tolerance approach where scaffolds have missing critical parts, or where unlicenced workers have removed or altered scaffold components.

“This is the third annual scaffold compliance program we’ve conducted, and we will continue to visit sites until the industry meets the safety levels SafeWork expects,” Mr Anderson said.

In the last two years, SafeWork has issued more than 1,700 notices relating to scaffolds, including 600 scaffold prohibition notices requiring the activity to cease due to immediate or imminent risk.

“This Government is building a stronger and safer NSW, and that starts with protecting our workforce,” Mr Anderson said.

“We need to drive the message home to principal contractors, supervisors, scaffolders, site owners and managers – we will not put up with practices that put lives at risk.”

In 2021 alone, SafeWork has visited more than 60 construction sites from Tweed Heads to Ballina, issuing 96 notices including eight on the spot fines, 16 prohibition notices, and 72 improvement notices. Over the rest of 2021, SafeWork will be focusing on risks associated with formwork, concrete pumps and working at heights.

“Across the state the building and construction industry is on notice – it does not matter if you are in the centre of Sydney or in western NSW, SafeWork will be checking your scaffold and if it is not safe, we will act.”

On-the-spot fines of $3600 for businesses and $720 for individuals can and will be issued if scaffolds are not inspected by a competent person, if workers are at serious or imminent risk of falls from heights, or if unlicenced workers erect, alter or dismantle a scaffold.

“If you see anything unsafe at work, you can now report it quickly and anonymously directly to SafeWork using our app Speak Up, Save Lives.”

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