Is this scaffolder safe?

A SafetyAtWorkBlog reader sent through the video below.  On the far right of the dashcam footage a scaffolder appears to be erecting scaffold while several floors up, holding onto one of the existing poles and without any fall protection.

Regardless of the date stamp, the video was taken on March 13 2018 in Sydney, Australia.

The reader has sent the video to the building company and will be contacting WorkcoverNSW.

Kevin Jones

Categories construction, Duty of Care, height, OHS, risk, safety, Uncategorized, workplace

4 thoughts on “Is this scaffolder safe?”

  1. It’d be good to get the perspective of scaffolders about this. Kev’s question is “Is this scaffolder safe?” and we’re asked to adjudicate based on grainy footage from a dash-cam from several hundreds of meters away. I think even Blind Freddy could agree that how the work is being conducted looks, on the face of it, to be a little ‘off’, but whether it’s safe or not cannot be determined from this evidence. (Though I concede, again, that it doesn’t look like it’s being performed quiet as well as it could be. But, what would I know? I’m not a scaffolder, and aren’t there to really see what’s taking place).

    For those leaning towards the ‘Wonder whether s/he’s wearing a safety harness’ aspect of this – for that particular scaffolding activity – I ask: where is s/he going to find a suitable anchorage for their lanyard? (Though concede there may be anchorage(s) available off-camera, for all we know). Wearing a harness is one thing. Using it correctly – to the full extent of what that means – is another thing altogether, and an aspect of scaffolding activity that presents… challenges. Sure, it’s all well and good to wear a harness, and use a lanyard and anchor that lanyard to a scaffold to provide a comforting visual image to those looking on, that’ll appease those who don’t really understand the nuances behind the practice. But, for that fall protection to be effective, it’s only ever going to be as good as the point its anchored to*. Which, in the case of a scaffold, may be an anchorage point that’s not entirely appropriate, or capable of performing as it is meant to, if s**t really went down.

    Anyways, to circle back to the top of my post: we should seek comment from those who ‘do’ scaffolding day in, day out. They know what works, and why some things that we probably, perhaps intuitively (at least in our eyes) think do work, don’t.

    If I want to know the nuances and machinations about scaffolding, sure as summer follows winter I’m going to go catch up with my scaffolding guys.



    *Here, I will tip my hat to an old mentor, Wayne, who always insisted: “10% of something is far, far better than 100% of nothing”. Meaning, in this case, that anchoring your lanyard to a scaffold as it’s being assembled offers at least a degree of fall protection, rather than doing nothing at all.

    1. I have an admission here.
      The footage comes from my dash cam.
      There is a lot more to this event than I am at liberty to say other than a myriad of safety issues are of a major concern.
      Not just the scaffolder, but the crew who were on the footpath under where he is “balancing” had the pole dropped it could have been fatal for a number.

  2. I have spoken to workers who refuse to wear safety harnesses. The problem is that these workers think safety harnesses are uncomfortable and restrict their movement. They want to get the job done fast.
    The people who buy the harnesses usually choose the cheapest possible option, without properly consulting the workers who will be wearing them.
    There are hundreds of different styles from so many different manufacturers.
    I have already written articles about the need for more talk between the people who buy safety equipment and the people who will wear the equipment. And of course, there needs to be constant training and supervision of safety practices.

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