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Scaffolding – Steel or Aluminum?

I recently received a call from a rather confused OHS practitioner who asked if Aluminum climbing equipment is a scaffold or not and if the legal appointments is necessary. According to an article published by a manufacturer, these “climbing equipment” is not a scaffold.

The answer is however the opposite.

The Construction Regulations defines a “scaffold” as a temporary elevated platform and supporting structure used for providing access to and supporting workmen or materials or both.

The regulations also refers to “temporary works” as any falsework, formwork, support work, scaffold, shoring or other temporary structure designed to provide support or means of access during construction work;

The manufacturer indirectly claims that Regulations 12 and 16 do not apply to aluminum access towers (Scaffold as defined). The article read “Broadly speaking, scaffolding is considered as a structure whereas mobile access towers is deemed to be equipment used by trained individuals for the purpose of gaining access to elevated work positions to carry out light-duty, short duration maintenance type of activities”.

But it is also regulation 6(2) that applies to the design of these “Not-scaffolds”.

Chapter 4 of SANS 10085:2004 Part 1 deals with the scaffold materials and refers to timber, steel, aluminum and Plastics . Here is an extract.

4.3 Aluminium

Aluminium shall be of sufficient strength and suitable quality to support the intended loads (see 5.10.4).

5.10.4 Aluminium standards and tubes

Aluminium standards and tubes shall have a minimum 0,2 % proof stress value of 250 MPa, and a minimum ultimate tensile strength (UTS) value of 290 MPa, and shall be of nominal outside diameter 48,4 mm and of nominal wall thickness 4,47 mm.

SANS10085 was not incorporated into the 2014 regulations as it was already incorporated in the 2003 regulations under Section 44 by GNR1020 of 18 July 2003. The repeal and replacement of the 2003 regulations did not require it to be done again.

Section 12(2)(b) of the Interpretation Act, 1957 states that where a law repeals (CR2014) any other law (CR2003), then unless the contrary intention appears, the repeal shall not affect the previous operation of any law so repealed or anything duly done or suffered under the law so repealed.

The quoted Government Gazette refers to the “guidelines” to the Construction Regulations and although the first page of the Gazette calls it “regulations” published under Section 43,  it is mere “notes” added to existing regulations which is to aid the reader, and the courts for that matter, with the interpretation of the regulations. Safety standards can only be incorporated under Section 44 of the Act to give it the same effect as statutory law.

The bottom line is that the appointments required by Construction Regulations 6, 12 and 16 will apply to any scaffold, whether you call it equipment or not. It is always better to consult your company’s legal counsel or attorneys to fully understand the risks you expose your business to.

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Rudy_D Maritz
Rudy is an experienced EHS Law advisor and has more than 30 years experience in criminal law, maritime and environmental law. He is an executive partner at Le Roux Maritz & Associates, based in Cape Town.
Rudy is also an Author for Sheqafrica.com and was the Magazine's publisher until April 2018.
He worked for various industries, including law enforcement, fishing, transport, logistics, construction, and telecommunications. For the last 5 years, he has been a facilitator for ECSA accredited CPD training in Construction Contracts & Risk Management.

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