Revised guidelines on the way

Revised guidelines expected later this year will provide clarity around the rules for scaffold inspections for both scaffolds under and over five metres.

However companies still need to be clear on the existing rules, especially when it comes to tagging scaffold under five metres high, says SARNZ chief executive Graham Burke.

“There is a lot of discussion around whether scaffold needs to be tagged under five metres high, and the simple answer is yes it does. All scaffolds should be marked as to whether or not they are safe to use regardless of height.”

The main difference is that scaffolds over five metres must be inspected by a certified scaffolder of the appropriate class, or a ‘competent’ person such as a chartered engineer.

“Although there have been differing interpretations on who this competent person may be, the regulations indicate that this must be the holder of a Certificate of Competence.”

Although scaffold under five metres does not need to be inspected by a holder of a Certificate of Competence, it does however need to be inspected and tagged on a regular basis to ensure it is “in good order and fit for purpose” by someone with the appropriate training, competency and experience.

Companies must also ensure good industry practice when it comes to both the erection of, and tagging of scaffold, says Graham.

“Scaffolds that are required to be erected by a certified scaffolder must have the scaffolder on site and providing direct supervision. It is not acceptable for scaffolders to be asked to sign off work after it was built by a non certified scaffolder.”

People checking scaffolds need to remember that they are responsible for ensuring the scaffold is fit for use and hasn’t been altered or damaged.

“The scaffold tags need to be filled out legibly with the inspector’s name and inspection date so that the workers using the scaffold can be confident the scaffold is safe.”

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