Canberra’s construction sites seem to have a problem when it comes to scaffolding compliance, a WorkSafe ACT audit recently revealed.

What has been described as “serious issues of non-compliance” have been discovered by inspectors including a lack of protection from potentially deadly falls.

According to authorities, only one in five scaffolds on Canberra commercial sites are fully compliant with access opening requirements.


The audit of 26 sites led to 3 prohibition notices which meant that work on these sites was stopped until they were addressed.

Of the 21 residential sites inspected, half of them recorded scaffolding design issues such as construction on uneven ground, large gaps on platforms and incorrectly installed stairs/ladders.

The audit was conducted between March and May this year, after 4 falls were recorded on work sites last year.

Since 2014, 476 claims for workers compensation related to falls from heights were lodged in the ACT which prompted the WorkSafe audit.

Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones expressed his concern that so few commercial sites had passed inspection on scaffold access requirements.

Some of the issues detected were lack of protection from vehicle collision, span over the opening not including additional support and span over the opening failing to be spurred, he said.


“Falls from a height can cause catastrophic injury to workers and it is important that scaffolding on every site is not only installed correctly but regularly checked and maintained,” Mr Jones said.

“There have been more than 470 claims for workers compensation lodged in the ACT relating to falls from heights since 2014 and a number of significant incidents have been investigated by WorkSafe ACT.

“Sadly, many of these incidents could have been prevented. We all have a role to play in keeping workers safe, and scaffolding needs to remain a key priority.”


The report was welcomed by Master Builders ACT chief executive Michael Hopkins who said that work from height safety must remain a priority.

“These findings are a warning to any business operating in the ACT that cutting corners on safety to make a commercial advantage will not be tolerated.

“Master Builders ACT and our members will work cooperatively with WorkSafe ACT to review the findings, and implement any learnings from the audit, so that safety in the ACT is continually improved.”


WorkSafe ACT intends on taking an educative approach to addressing the issues they discovered through safety newsletters, updates on Access Canberra website and continuing inspections.


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