The Ins and Outs of Fixed Scaffolding

On pretty much every kiwi building site, you’ll see scaffolding. 

But, how many of us really know the correct rules and regulations around scaffolding? 

Below we outline the key aspects and what you should look for when using scaffolding on your current, or next, site. 


What is scaffolding?

Scaffolding – by definition – is a temporary platform that is used to elevate, offer support, and provide materials during a construction process for building, repairing or cleaning of a structure. 


Why does the construction industry use scaffolding?

Let’s break it down:

  1. Safety: Scaffolding is there as a secure structure for those working at height providing a flat and balanced working platform that allows multiple workers to work at the same time.
  2. Access: With scaffolding wrapping areas of a building, it allows people to access parts of a building that may have been unattainable beforehand, such as wall or section of the roof. 
  3. Positioning: With scaffolding, workers are smack bang in front of the area they are working on. No need for getting into awkward and unsafe positions. 


The need-to-knows

Scaffolding can be a tricky subject, and because of this, there are many areas that we get asked to advise on. Below we outline some of the most important aspects of working with or around scaffolding. 


Tagging and retagging

All scaffolds must be checked by a competent person before handover. This involves tagging the scaffolding. All scaffolds, regardless of height, must have a tag clearly displaying important safety information at access points. Included on the tag:

  • The status of the scaffold (i.e. scaffold unsafe or scaffold safe)
  • The name and contact phone number of the certified scaffolder (or erector if under 5 m)
  • The purpose (intended use) of the scaffold
  • The duty (or weight) loadings of the scaffold
  • The maximum number of platforms or bays that may be loaded
  • Any limitations on the use of the scaffold
  • A record of each inspection (these should be done weekly or after a significant storm or earthquake or alteration), including who inspected or altered the scaffold and when it was done.


Requirements on putting scaffolding up

Depending on the height of the scaffolding there are varying regulations and qualifications that determine who can construct scaffolding. 

For scaffolding up to 5 metres a competent person – someone who has the knowledge and skills to carry out a particular task must erect the scaffolding. Skills and knowledge may be acquired through training, qualification, or experience.  

For greater than 5 metres the person who erects the scaffold must hold the appropriate class of certificate of competence (COC) for that type of scaffolding.


Access to Scaffolding

Access to working platforms must be adequate and safe for the working conditions and type of work to be carried out. Plan for the number of people using a scaffold and the weight and size of materials on the platform.

Other points to consider:

  • Where possible, install stair access rather than ladder access.
  • Access openings and stairways must not have sharp edges.
  • Openings in scaffolding at access points to stairways and ladders must be protected by gates or be sufficiently distant from the platform.
  • Gates must open inwards onto the platform and be self-closing.
  • Where a personal hoist is used, an alternative, non-mechanical means of egress such as stairs or a ladder should also be provided.
  • Platforms must allow 450mm of clear access past ladder openings.


Distance between the workface and structure

Once you’re up and working on the scaffolding be aware of the following rules around the distance between you and the surface you’re working on: 

  • Scaffolding must be as close to the surface as feasibly possible
  • If the distance is more than 300 mm, you are required to have internal guard rails on the workface side



Non-proprietary platforms must have a minimum bay width of 675mm wide. All platforms must allow 450mm of clear access past stacked material and obstructions.



Guardrails must be between 900 and 1100mm high with a mid-rail located halfway between the work platform and the top rail. Toeboards are also to be fitted to prevent materials falling from the platform.


Following the correct guidelines and having adequate health and safety measures in place is critical when you’re working with scaffolding. Whether you’re organising scaffolding for a site, constructing the scaffolding or working on it, the key is to take your time and be careful. 

If you have any further questions regarding scaffolding, we’re always here to lend a hand.

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