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Scaffolding safety – what are my rights?

Scaffolding is an essential part of the construction industry as it provides a stable work platform for working at varying heights.

While necessary, scaffolds and scaffolding also come with great risk to those working on or around them. Some of the most common risks include:

  • Falling from height
  • The scaffold collapsing
  • Working near power lines
  • Objects falling off scaffolds

Read on to find out more about common scaffolding injuries, who is responsible for scaffolding safety and what to do if you’re injured in a fall from scaffolding.

Common scaffolding injuries & statistics

According to Safe Work Australia the construction industry has the third highest fatality rate of 3.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers and accounts for 13% of serious injury workers compensation claims.

Of these claims, approximately 23% are due to falls, trips and slips and a further 16% are caused by workers being hit by moving objects (including falling objects). Falls or being hit by falling objects can result in the following serious scaffolding injuries:

Who is responsible for scaffolding safety?

In short, both you and your employer are responsible for scaffolding safety.

Everyone in the workplace has duties under workplace health & safety (WHS) legislation to reduce risks and maintain safety for workers and anyone else at the job site. These duties differ based on your role, but as much as is reasonably possible, everyone must reduce or eliminate the risks associated with scaffolding work by:

  1. Identifying hazards: determine what could go wrong and how it could cause harm
  2. Assessing risks: of these hazards, understand the likeliness of it happening and how serious the harm could be
  3. Controlling risks: implement the most reasonable and effective control measures
  4. Regularly reviewing these control measures

Scaffolding safety tips

There are many resources easily accessible to ensure scaffolding safety is incorporated at your site, including recommendations for specific use situations like scaffolding work near power lines.

Based on our experience with construction injury claims, our recommendations for employees and employers to enable scaffolding safety include:

  • Developing appropriate policies and adhering to them: establish guidelines for the proper erection, use, alteration and dismantling of scaffolding, including appropriate inspections and safety certifications.
  • Providing safety equipment and fall protection: employers must ensure that there is sufficient safety equipment available to all workers and that they understand how to correctly use and maintain personal fall-arrest equipment.
  • Training for all personnel: (including regular refresher training) on the specific scaffolding system and its proper use, as well as safety measures and the fall protection installed on the scaffolding.

Can I claim compensation for a scaffolding accident?

If you have been injured after a fall from scaffolding or by an object falling from scaffolding you may be eligible to make a workers compensation claim for:

  • Medical and hospital expenses
  • Loss of wages
  • Permanent impairment compensation
  • Rehabilitation expenses

What you are eligible to claim for depends on your specific circumstances, so it is important to seek expert legal advice to understand your full rights and entitlements.

Injured on the job? Shine Lawyers can help

If you’ve suffered a scaffolding injury at work, our workers compensation lawyers can help you to understand your legal rights and access the compensation you deserve on a No Win, No Fee basis.

We can provide advice wherever you’re most comfortable; whether it’s at home, in one of our local offices, or over a video or telephone call.

To get started, use our free online claim checker below, or speak to one of our experts over the phone for a no-obligation chat.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: April 21, 2022.

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