The right kind of training

Here we look at a recent initiative undertaken by Site Safe NZ in the Otago region.

The Problem: Scaffold Safety and Training

The Otago Southland Safety Liaison Group (OSLG) had identified two key activities that impacted on working safely at height. These were the use of dangerous scaffolding and the poor construction of low-level prefabricated scaffolding by non-scaffolders. For example, virtually all of the low level (under 5 metres) prefabricated aluminium scaffolding towers assembled on-site were dangerous. They were non-compliant with the SARNZ (scaffold, access, rigging NZ) standard guidelines and the manufacturer suppliers technical specifications assembly instructions which in many cases are not sufficiently detailed to provide a complete and safe assembly process. The The Department of Labour's working safely at height in construction campaign are looking to enforce the safe use of scaffolding.

Most of these prefabricated scaffolds, (under 5 metres high) had not been erected by professional scaffold suppliers and while scaffold suppliers instruction in assembly may have been provided, it is often basic training in safe scaffolding techniques which are missing. Many construction workers believe they are competent to erect scaffolds under 5 metres, following attendance of the training courses many realised they did not have all the skills required and gained from training. The ultimate aim of this course is to ensure that all people who need to erect and use a scaffold under 5 metres are trained.

Main contractors provide scaffolds as access to work at height for hundreds for many subcontractors and workers. Evidently, few workers had any training or knowledge on how to work safely from scaffolds or even what constituted a safe scaffold. The lack of knowledge on scaffold safety and training for workers is causing a major challenge for site managers supervising access safety.

The Request: 

Could Site Safe develop and deliver a fully hands-on practical short course which targeted safe use of scaffolds and correct assembly of low level pre-fabricated scaffolding. Although NZQA based height training including education on these issues exist, they are generally targeted at professional full-time scaffolders and more comprehensive than the needs expressed by the Otago Safety Liaison Group. The issue was raised at an OSLG meeting with Site Safe and the Chair David Baker (Systems Administration Manager of Amalgamated Builders Ltd) then contacted Site Safe's height specialist Jeff Strampel who undertook development of a training course to meet the OSLG's specific requirements.

The Result: 

To ensure the entire time was devoted to learning how to assemble the scaffolding, a theory resource pack covering knowledge requirements was sent out to trainees prior to attending the course. Jeff Strampel delivered four scaffold-user safety courses of two hour duration and four prefabricated scaffold assembly courses of four hour duration. Over a week, these two courses were run in Invercargill, Queenstown, Alexandra and Dunedin.



From the Trainees:

Trainess appreciated the focussed nature of the information delivery and the practical instruction in scaffold assembly. A number of opinions expressed appreciation for the faster and more productive practical techniques being demonstrated rather than the non-compliant methods. The trainees were positive about the general improvement in safety overall.

From the OSLG:

Generally it was felt this was the right kind of training to address specific safety issues. Naylor Love Construction is now considering promoting the training across their branches nationwide.


Safety Liaison Groups Nationwide: 

The Safety Liaison Group initiative is based on leading construction companies in each region throughout New Zealand collectively taking a united approach to safety standards. Supported and facilitated by Site Safe, the groups make a positive change to construction safety culture. 

Site Safe responsive to developing specific training: 

Site Safe was established as, and continues to be, the industry's body for health safety across construction in New Zealand. Site Safe regularly provides consultancy based training. Our highly qualified and experienced Safety, Health & Environmental Advisor team assist companies by identifying what training would have the most value to employees, contractors and clients.



Many thanks to the OSLG and everyone down south who were involved in putting on the huge organisational effort in making this happen and for bringing the issue to the notice of Site Safe. The impact of this training will be a significant contribution to achieving the Government's preventing falls from height campaign.