Scaffolds and scaffolding work

  • Construction work commonly includes scaffolds. They provide a safe, stable work platform when working at heights. 


Scaffolding is the individual components that, when assembled, form a scaffold. For example, tubes, couplers and frames.

Scaffolding work means erecting, altering or dismantling a temporary structure that supports a platform.

PCBU specific duties

Risk management

There are risks associated with scaffolding and scaffolding work. They include:

  • Falls from height
  • Scaffold collapse
  • Electrocution from being near powerlines 
  • Falling objects

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you have a duty to manage the risks of scaffolding work. 


PCBU duties


Worker duties

You must eliminate or minimise, so far as is reasonably practicable, the risks of scaffolds and scaffolding work. This can be done by following the risk management process. 

You must ensure that that scaffolds are maintained and inspected and that they are safe to use. For more information, please refer to Safe Work Australia’s guide for scaffold inspection and maintenance.

You must prepare a safe work method statement (SWMS) if the scaffolding work involves a risk of falling more than two metres. For further information, please refer to Safe Work Australia’s safe work method statement for construction work – information sheet or use our SWMS Tool to learn how to complete a SWMS. 

You must also consult workers, any health and safety representatives about WHS.

You must consult, cooperate and coordinate with other duty holders.

Your PCBU has a duty to keep you and your workplace safe from risks associated with scaffolds and scaffolding work.

You also have a duty to take reasonable care of your own health and safety and that of others in the workplace including ensuring your acts and omissions don’t adversely affect others health and safety.

Comply with any reasonable instructions, policies and procedure given by your PCBU at the workplace, so far as is reasonably able to.


You must also ensure that your workers have the appropriate licence before they begin scaffolding work. Scaffolding work involving a platform with a fall over 4 metres requires a high-risk work licence.

Safe work method statement (SWMS)

You must also prepare a safe work method statement (SWMS) for any scaffolding work that carries a risk of falling more than 2 metres. For further information on SWMS, please see our information sheet. To learn more about how to prepare a SWMS, access the interactive SWMS tool.

Risk management

  • Identifying hazards—find out what could go wrong and what could cause harm. 
  • Assessing risks if necessary—understand the harm each hazard could cause, how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening. 
  • Controlling risks—implement the most effective control measures that are reasonably practicable in the circumstances. 
  • Reviewing control measures to ensure they are working as planned. 

For more information

  • Did you know

    The WHS regulator in your state or territory can provide practical advice, resources and tools to help you be safe when working in construction. They can also let you know which WHS laws apply to you.