Scaffolding Code of Practice 2021 comes into effect 1 July

17 June 2021

The Scaffolding Code of Practice 2021 comes into effect from 1 July 2021.

The code of practice is now available online.


Master Builders has been working on a revision of this code for the last three and a half years and, whilst there has been some changes, extensive lobbying and negotiation has resulted in a reasonable and workable outcome for the industry.

Key changes in the code include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • A new table in the code recommends when an engineer, rather than a scaffolder or competent person, should design, verify and undertake the initial inspection of various scaffolds. These recommendations are based on the level of risk and largely reflect current industry practice.
  • Information in the code on safe work practices and control measures for tying scaffolding and post installed anchors has been updated based on the Australian Standard for scaffolding (AS/NZS 1576.1).
  • The code has been updated to recommend two means of access and egress for external perimeter scaffolds over a certain size and excludes detached dwellings. One means of access and egress should be suitable for emergency stretcher access.
  • The code has been updated to include a new recommendation that the step height from the scaffold stair module on to the working platform should be minimised so that it is no more than 300mm when there is a change in direction between landings. A cost-effective way for industry to meet this new requirement involves replacing existing 1.5 metre stair modules with 2 metre modules.
    Note: This section will have a delayed commencement and will only apply to stand-alone scaffolding where erection commences 12 months after 1 July 2021.
  • Information has been included in the code to clarify the responsibilities of persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to clean up any mess, waste and spills when they have finished using the scaffold. The principal contractor or person with management and control of a construction site has ultimate responsibility for ensuring systems are in place to maintain a safe work environment on the scaffold.
  • A new section on gaps has been included in the code that sets out the dimensions of allowable gaps based on AS/NZS 1576.1. The code recommends that gaps should be eliminated over common access and egress points.
  • Additional information has been included in the code on managing specific risks of fixed plant, unauthorised access, use or alteration of scaffolding, scaffold quality and fire and explosion.
  • The code has been amended to advise that where it has been identified that non-destructive testing (NDT) for cracks in high stress areas of suspended scaffold components is needed to identify cracks not easily visible, it should be conducted every three years.

While these are the main changes, we will work with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) to develop a more comprehensive comparative list in the next couple weeks.

Contact our Workplace Health and Safety team on 1300 30 50 10 to seek specific advice on how these changes apply to your business.

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