Get scaffold safety right: WorkSafe

WorkSafe Victoria executive director John Merritt said three major incidents in recent weeks have killed one person and put the safety of hundreds of other people at risk. “It is only a matter of good luck that there have not been more fatalities and serious injuries,” Merritt said. “The designers and builders of scaffolds have clear roles to maximise safety as do their employers, site managers and the people using it. “The recent problems with scaffolding are a sign that all sectors of the construction industry needed to re-double their efforts to ensuring their workplaces were as safe as practicable.”The three recent scaffolding-related incidents were:
Melbourne: A scaffold collapsed onto Commercial Road in Prahran, narrowly missing a bus on February 24. Commercial Road was blocked for more than 24 hours with trams re-routed and some replaced by buses;
Sydney: A scaffold buckled in central Sydney on February 26, closing Castlereagh St until March 4; and
Sydney: A 70-year-old man died on March 11 after falling from a hanging scaffold or swing stage while painting. His workmate hung by a harness for nearly an hour until he was rescued.
“Safety expectations begin with the chairman of the board of a large company or the owner of the business in smaller operations setting the safety agenda and insisting on high standards being applied at all times by employees and contractors,” Merritt said. “Lost productivity, impact on reputation, personal and corporate legal issues, and claims for commercial damages and breech of contract are not worth the risk,” he said.

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