Background

Following a recent incident where a component failed while workers were erecting a scaffold, WorkSafe is warning users about this potentially dangerous issue.

Workplace inspectors attended a St. Kilda construction site after a scaffold ledger came away from a newly purchased scaffold standard while it was being set up. This raises concerns about potentially faulty components of some scaffold equipment.

Safety issues

V-pressings are important components in scaffold construction (see Image 1). They are welded to the scaffold standard to form a ‘star,’ and are the point at which scaffold transoms, ledgers and hop up brackets attach.

When the welded connection holding the V-pressing to the standard failed, the scaffold became unsafe. It is suspected that the V-pressing welded connection may have been faulty (see Images 2 and 3).

Failure of a V-pressing can cause the working platform to collapse, possibly resulting in serious injuries to any person on or around the scaffold.

Image showing V pressings

Image 1: V-pressings are standard scaffold components

Recommended ways to control risks

WorkSafe advises that duty holders should:

  • prior to use, inspect all scaffold components to ensure they are working and in good order
  • inspect all scaffold components between each hiring or leasing
  • check:
    • that V-pressings are welded to scaffold standards correctly
    • that weld beads are consistent and entirely capture the ends of the V-pressing
    • for signs of rust that appears to originate from under or within the weld.
  • provide workers erecting scaffolding with information, instruction, and training, and ensure that only suitably competent people do this work.
Image shows 2 examples of damaged V pressing components.

Image 2 and 3: Examples of damaged V pressing

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), employers must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees. This includes identifying risks to health and safety and eliminating or reducing those risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employers must, as far as is reasonably practicable, provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are safe and without risks to health.

Suppliers of plant have obligations to inspect and maintain plant between hiring or leasing to ensure risks are eliminated or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.

Further information

If you’re unsure what to do, contact WorkSafe's Advisory Service for more information.

If you identify any issues with welded connections on scaffolds similar to that described, please contact WorkSafe's Advisory Service for more information.

Australian Standard AS 1576 Series