New scaffolding rules protect building workers

Published Wednesday, 30 June, 2021 at 11:04 AM

Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing
The Honourable Grace Grace

New rules around scaffolding kick in from tomorrow to protect the lives of Queensland construction workers.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said a revised code of practice would make working on scaffolds much safer.

“Construction activity has increased substantially in recent years and so has the potentially high-risk activity of using scaffolds,” she said.

“More than 60 workers every year are seriously injured using scaffolding, with their workers compensation claims requiring five or more days off work.

“The code brings a raft of features to substantially boost safety for workers.

“In particular, reducing the step height between scaffolds and working platforms addresses a significant risk of falls.”

The key changes include:

  • new entry and exit requirements for scaffolds to allow emergency stretcher retrievals
  • a requirement for engineers, rather than scaffolders, to design and sign off on scaffolds
  • a smaller step height between scaffold stairs and work platforms
  • more detailed requirements around managing the risk of debris, falling objects and hazardous substances
  • regular testing of scaffold welds.

Master Builders Workplace Health and Safety Manager Melanie Dawson said the changes to the Code were an important step in addressing construction industry safety and are supported by WHS experts.

“We will work closely with government and industry on the introduction of the Code as there will be an inevitable cost posed on industry; however, codes of practice are important in addressing serious safety concerns and providing safe workplaces for everyone.”

It’s been close to 10 years since the current work health and safety laws commenced, and in that time nearly 6000 notices have been issued for non-compliant scaffolding. These notices have led to fines totalling around $150,000.

Ms Grace said the safety improvements built on the Palaszczuk Government’s record of protecting Queensland workers.

“Queensland was the first state in Australia to make industrial manslaughter an offence, with maximum penalties of 20-year jail terms and $10 million fines,” she said. 

“We have led the nation in responding to the threat of silicosis and provided improved compensation and support for workers with coal worker’s pneumoconiosis and other work-related lung disease. 

“And we restored rights of injured workers to common law workers’ compensation.” 


Read more about the Scaffolding Code of Practice 2021


Media contact: Laura McKee 0451 997 920