Scaffold elimination and safely working at heights

Scaffolds are a common cause of worksite injury in both mining and construction industries.

The scaffold issue has unfortunately come to light again following a recent incident at a mine site in Western Australia’s North West, where a maintenance worker tragically fell to his death.

Working at height continues to exist as one of the highest-risk workplace activities accounting for 21 fatalities in 2019, 11 per cent of all workplace fatalities and second only to vehicle collisions.

Accidents in the workplace do happen, but this is an extremely disappointing outcome, not to mention the 26,000 serious injury claims due to falls, trips and slips of a person in 2019.

Although the cause of the most recent incident in WA’s North West was not specified, the most common causes of scaffolding incidents according to WorkSafe ACT are:

  • Scaffolding collapse (before, during and after placement of the scaffold)
  • Work near overhead electric lines
  • Mobile plant and other workplace traffic
  • Mixing components from different scaffold systems (for example, do not mix aluminium tubing with steel tubing)
  • Falls from heights
  • Objects falling from overhead scaffolding

Bringing scaffold into a mining maintenance or inspection project carries a number of risks and extra ongoing costs. These factors directly influence the likelihood of an incident occurring:

  • The requirement for extra non-company personnel on-site
  • A minimum of three scaffolders needed on-site for a job to build and breakdown
  • The hire of the scaffold
  • Parts and personnel are not always available
  • Scaffold must be regularly inspected and is often not
  • Non-inspected scaffolding often left in place due to lack of permanent platform to use a portable access solution
  • Scaffold not in a form of permanent access or support

Although not all workplace fatalities and serious injuries are due to working from height, and many seem to be accidents out of one’s control, there are more and more ways these risks can be mitigated, and the significance of the risk reduced.

This can start with eliminating scaffold from your site.

The scaffold elimination process involves a site audit where we scope and inspect existing scaffold that is, or has been erected on a regular basis to access, protect or provide support in a mobile or fixed plant application.

If applicable, we design, engineer and construct a temporary or fixed solution to completely eliminate the need for scaffold.

Bend-tech offers a wide range of mobile equipment maintenance (MEM) platforms that are compatible with most truck makes and models.

All access platforms are designed and manufactured to the highest possible standards and go through a series of quality control tests before they are released to our clients.

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