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Scaffold Will Only Keep Workers Safe If Erected By A Competent Person

Scaffolds will only keep workers safe if they are erected by someone with competence experience, says WorkSafe. If not constructed correctly, they can put workers at risk.

W Gartshore Limited is a construction company which specialises in shop fit-outs and retail joinery. In September 2018 the company was involved in a shop fit-out at Westfield Manukau Shopping Centre when a worker fell from a mobile scaffold and sustained serious injuries including a broken back, fractured skull and a traumatic brain injury.

WorkSafe’s subsequent investigation found that the mobile scaffold had been disassembled to allow tiles to be laid, and the victim, whose experience erecting mobile scaffolds had not been established by the company, was then asked to erect it once again.

The investigation found several issues with the structure at the time of the incident. The platform had been installed above the maximum height and there was no room for a top handrail making it dangerous to be used.

“The scaffold, when not correctly erected, was unsafe, did not meet standards and should not have been in use,” said WorkSafe’s Area Manager Danielle Henry.

“Scaffolds are designed to allow safer work from a height however, if they are not designed and erected correctly they put workers at greater risk.

“Where scaffolds are needed, businesses must adhere to standards and guidance to ensure they are fit for purpose and will keep workers safe. This means they must be constructed and checked by a competent person before and during use.

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“W Gartshore Limited should have ensured that they had a competent person erect or check that it had been erected correctly before and while it was in use. Instead, they cut corners to get the job done. As a result this victim has suffered from injuries that have continued to affect them to this day.”

W Gartshore was fined $200,000 at the Manukau District Court today.

WorkSafe has scaffold guidance available on its website.


- W Gartshore Limited was sentenced at the Manukau District Court on Friday 11 December.

- A fine of $200,000 was imposed.

- Reparation of $60,000 had previously been paid to the victim.

- W Gartshore Limited was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

- Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU, while the workers are at work in the business, did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed individuals to a risk of death or serious injury, arising from a fall from height (mobile scaffold).

- S 48(2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.

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