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January 2020

Poorly constructed scaffolding results in injury

Poorly constructed scaffolding results in injury

Worksafe v Allen (2015)

Facts

A scaffolder located in Perth failed to take reasonable care in erecting a scaffold. Mr Allen, an employee of the scaffolding company, added a third lift to the steel-framed and steel-planked scaffold that had previously been erected around the building site. However, this lift collapsed when a bricklayer’s labourer was working on it, causing the labourer to fall to the ground and dislocate his shoulder.

Mr Allen had failed to tie the narrow frames of the scaffolding onto the rest of the scaffold around the building, so the lift was effectively left free-standing.

Judgment

Mr Allen was charged and fined $2,000. The Court heard that Mr Allen held a high-risk work licence in basic and advanced scaffolding and had done so for a number of years, so his employer had every reason to believe that he would complete the job to the standard required. The Court found that Mr Allen’s failure to erect the scaffold in a stable manner led to a completely avoidable injury.

Lessons

The decision highlights that a business is entitled to rely on experienced and qualified workers to follow safe work procedures, including to erect scaffolding in a safe manner. The decision to prosecute the individual who failed to take proper care for other workers also highlights the importance of each worker complying with their work health and safety duty.

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