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Safety and


In construction and home repairs, scaffolding safety is imperative to a safe and productive workplace for all.

Below are the relevant updates to scaffolding regulations and what AJG Australia expects as a minimum regarding scaffold safety.

Management of erected scaffolds, particularly modifications

  • To safeguard its safety and structural integrity, only appropriately licensed scaffolders can erect, alter, repair or dismantle scaffolding with prior approval from the principal contractor and scaffold contractor.
  • The principal contractor must have site rules around the unauthorised modification of scaffold and have regular inspections to identify where unauthorised modifications occur.
  • Scaffolders can assist with preventing unapproved modifications by documenting any work performed or completed by ways of daily handovers including photos and stage by stage handovers of works performed.
  • You MUST notify the principal contractor if unapproved modifications are performed.

Supervision/management of scaffolders and scaffolding work

The Scaffolding Contractor must:

  • Plan work prior to start, have SWMS in place, ensure scaffold complies with legal requirements, trained and licensed workers.

The Principal Contractor must:

  • Obtain copies of design, engineers sign off, SWMS, scaffolders licence, site preparation, induction for scaffolders, exclusion zones.

The principal contractor must halt scaffolding work if they observe or are otherwise made aware of unsafe work practices

Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS)

ANY risk of falling from higher than 2 metres (HRWA) requires a SWMS


  • Identification of work, hazards, control measures (implemented, monitored and reviewed).

SWMS to identify specific hazards and control measures for:

  • Falls when erecting/altering/dismantling, falling objects, inadequate training/licence, use of damage components, scaffold not compliant, unauthorised access to scaffold.

SWMS must be site specific risk & controls like:

  • Emergency contact details, site supervisor, atypical work methods.

Safe method for erecting and dismantling scaffolds

Work from behind edge protection at all times!

  • Work from below -> upwards, using a temporary installation platform (min. 450mm wide) to install the edge protection and platforms for the next lift above.
    Scaffolding edge protection
  • Harness-based systems must not be used as the primary control measure for risk of falls unless edge protection is not achievable.
  • Stair/step distance can be no greater than 300mm stepping off scaffold or onto scaffold.
  • Scaffold platforms must be fully planked at each lift and scaffolds will typically be dismantles using the reverse order of the erection method. Preferred method used is 1 meter lift sequence.

Handover Certificates (written confirmation)

  • Handover certificate allows scaffold to be used and it comes from a licensed scaffolder who has inspected the scaffold, and state that construction of the scaffold is complete.
  • The Handover Certificate MUST be provided before first use of the scaffold after scaffolders have completed their scaffolding work (erected, altered or repaired).
  • A copy of each handover certificate should be available on site for the duration of the project.
  • Scaffolds are often erected in stages; thus, it may be impractical for a single handover certificate to apply to an entire scaffold.
  • Scaffolding tags can be a useful indicator at the entry point to the scaffold as to when the scaffold was last inspected.

Preventing unauthorised access to scaffolds

  • The Principal Contractor is the person/s in conjunction with management who is in control of the scaffolding on site and must not permit work (other than scaffolding work) to occur on a scaffold that does not have a valid handover certificate.
  • Scaffolding Contractors must ensure their workers only access incomplete scaffolds if they hold the appropriate class of scaffold high risk work licence.
  • While erecting or altering a scaffold, scaffolders should ensure other workers are not using or accessing the scaffold.
  • Where incomplete scaffolds are to be left unattended (e.g. end of day), scaffolders MUST physically block off the access points and hang signage until construction is completed and a handover certificate provided.

Training and qualification of workers

  • Information, training and supervision of workers interacting with scaffolds MUST be thorough, understandable, and monitored regularly.
  • Principle Contractors SHOULD have a basic understanding of scaffold terminology and an undestanding of duty ratings associated with scaffolding. For example:
      1. 225 kg (Light)
      2. 450 kg (Medium)
      3. 675 kg (Heavy)

Scaffolders must be trained and competent to undertake their work SHOULD be capable of erecting/dismantling to a pre-determined design sequence know what type of scaffolding work their HRWL allows them to complete have detailed knowledge of the scaffold systems they are using. Only licensed scaffolders can undertake scaffolding work an unlicensed worker cannot alter, or modify scaffold in any way, this includes removing ties, planks hop ups, or any component on the scaffold, access the scaffold while it is incomplete, being modified or dismantled. This includes scaffolding labourers. There are two exceptions to this rule:

1. The worker is enrolled in an accredited HRWL scaffolding course with a registered training organisation and working under direct supervision from a person who holds the appropriate class of scaffolding HRWL, or

2. The worker has obtained notice of satisfactory assessment from the registered training organisation within the last 60 days (but is yet to receive the HRWL).

The role of Engineers, sign-offs and verifications

Engineers are relied upon to assess the performance of a scaffold structure and determine its suitability for a particular application. This requires engineers to have a sound understanding of scaffolding load ratings, sequence of building, a sound understanding of scaffolding design standards AS/NZS 1576 series, AS1170 series.

For enquiries regarding the above-mentioned information on scaffolding, or you have a safety suggestion or concern for the HSEQ Team, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or your local HSEQ Officer.

Please be safe,

Workplace Health, Safety, Environment and Quality team
AJG Australia

HSEQ Officer Details


Jarrod Keith
HSEQ Officer
0438 042 326

Ricardo Iriarte
HSEQ Officer
0467 555 883

NSW – Sydney

George Kiotis
HSEQ Officer
0477 355 901

Northern NSW

Martin Rees
HSEQ Officer
0477 355 901
NSW – Wollongong & South Coast

Arthur Jones
HSEQ Officer
0473 255 890