Hazard 2020 Safety Campaign Update Highlights Ongoing Problems with Scaffolding and Mobile Cranes

17 September 2021

The Federal Safety Commissioner’s Hazard 2020 Campaign Update, published today, demonstrates good safety improvements with regard to mobile plant generally, but raises concerns with the way building companies manage scaffolding and mobile cranes.

The 12-month Hazard 2020 campaign, launched in 2020, targets mobile plant and scaffolding safety on the building sites of over 500 companies accredited under the Australian Government Work Health Safety Accreditation Scheme. This update reflects interim results from on-site inspections and reported safety incidents from 16 October 2020 to 31 May 2021.

Federal Safety Commissioner David Denney said, “It is encouraging to see improvements in mobile plant safety generally given mobile plant is consistently the leading safety hazard on the building sites of accredited companies. However, these result also highlight the urgent need for stronger action across the building and construction industry to improve safety systems and on-site practices regarding scaffolding and mobile cranes.”

Commissioner Denney noted a lack of improvement or declining compliance in relation to Scheme requirements with aspects of scaffolding and mobile cranes. Of biggest concern was that:

  • 52 per cent of companies audited failed to ensure temporary structures were installed by a competent person and were verified as correctly installed prior to use.
  • 42 per cent of companies audited failed to ensure scaffold plans were developed when required and changes to the plan were signed off by a qualified person.
  • 36 per cent of companies failed to have or implement safe systems of work for the use of mobile cranes taking into account ground conditions, the development of lift plans where required and the lifting of materials and workers.

The Commissioner also flagged concern with the high levels of safety incidents reported that resulted in, or had the potential to result in, serious or life-threatening injuries (33 per cent for mobile plant and 26 per cent for scaffolding).

“Over the past 18 months the industry has shown great resilience and determination in managing COVID-19. I encourage companies to apply the same resolve in addressing and improving the areas of concern highlighted in this update so that every building worker goes home safely every day.”

The Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner will continue to support companies to meet their safety obligations. The Office provides guidance and educational materials (such as the popular Hazard 2020 webinar series), highlights examples of good or innovative safety practices through case study videos, and facilitates links to other resources and materials.

All resources are available on the Hazard 2020 page.

Follow the Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner on LinkedIn to stay up to date on safety news, Scheme updates and future events.