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Death traps in scaffolding

November 30, 12004

Changes by unqualified people can lead to death traps in scaffolding says Tai Poutini Polytechnic expert

Changes to existing scaffolding by unqualified people have created significant hazards and in some cases death traps for fellow workers, a leading New Zealand scaffolding expert said today.

Peter O’Sullivan, of Tai Poutini Polytechnic, New Zealand’s leading scaffolding trainer, was commenting on an Occupational and Safety and Health (OSH) report released yesterday.

OSH said so far this year, 41 scaffolding accidents had been reported in Canterbury-West Coast, compared with 26 in 2003 and six in 2002.

Mr O’Sullivan is the Director of National and Industry Programmes at Tai Poutini Polytechnic, which has trained more than 1500 people as professional scaffolders since 1998. Tai Poutini is the leading provider in the provision of scaffolding training in New Zealand.

``The major concern is unqualified people making alterations to scaffold thus creating significant hazards and in some cases death traps for fellow workers,’’ he said today.

``When scaffolders have finished constructing the scaffold they are required to complete a full inspection of the scaffold and sign it over as fit for use.

``The qualified scaffolders will then return and reinspect the scaffold regularly while in use.

``On these reinspections a scaffolder is often required to spend considerable time replacing plant, handrails and even reinstating bracing to make the structure safe again.

``The industry is developing a clear set of guidelines for the users of scaffolding which it is hoped will be available in the very near future.‘’

The Polytechnic, industry groups Scaffolding and Rigging New Zealand (SARNZ) and Scaffolding and Rigging and Industrial Rope Access Training (SRIIT) in association with OSH have developed new improved safety guidelines for erectors Scaffolding in New Zealand.

The Best Practice Guidelines for Scaffolding in New Zealand was developed to ensure that all scaffolds were built to high standards with recommended work practices to achieve safety objectives.

He said the guidelines represented a significant investment in time and expense by the industry leaders and the polytechnic and have been held up as examples to other industries of industry taking the lead in setting safety standards for their industries.

Five OSH inspectors will be visiting about 15 scaffolding companies in Christchurch, Timaru and the West Coast this week, to check on progress since the last inspection eight months ago.

OSH said yesterday safety standards in the scaffolding industry had slipped in recent years because of the construction boom.

ENDS

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