Calls for tighter scaffolding regulations after near-miss in Auckland

There are calls for tighter regulations in the construction of scaffolding after a large platform collapsed onto a car in Auckland's Ellerslie on Wednesday.

WorkSafe is investigating, and in a statement said there needs to be significant change in how the construction industry looks after its people. 

It comes after incredible footage captured two cars swerving out of the way of 6m scaffolding as it fell onto the road.

One car escaped, but the other was bashed about.

The elderly driver of the damaged car was in quite a state after what could have been a far more serious smash.

Construction management Professor John Tookey said after viewing the video, there were issues with the way the scaffolding was constructed.

"Part of the run which had been put in place was unsupported and unbraced which led to oscillation in the wind, and ultimately collapse," he told Newshub.

Scaffolding qualifications are a must-have for some jobs, but not all. And the devil's in the detail, according to Prof Tookey.

"Whenever you use the phrase 'as far as is reasonably practical', then you create an opportunity for the less scrupulous to potentially cause significant problems," he said.

And the scaffolding industry body SARNZ (Scaffolding, Access and Rigging New Zealand) wants to see everyone accredited.

"The barrier to entry - and this is the wider construction industry as a whole - is just non-existent," said Tina Wieczorek, chief executive of SARNZ.

"And this is something we've been in active dialogue with not only the previous Government, but with this Government also, and unfortunately what we saw yesterday is a by-effect of that."

Scaffolding underneath the Panmure Bridge collapsed in February 2017.
Scaffolding underneath the Panmure Bridge collapsed in February 2017. Photo credit: Newshub.

High-risk construction trades, including scaffolding, have been lobbying for a higher level of competence but Wieczorek says it remains on the minister's desk.

The scaffolding that collapsed in Auckland had been removed by Thursday afternoon, but WorkSafe investigators were at the site on Wednesday.

WorkSafe told Newshub yesterday's collapse had the potential for tragic consequences and it's lucky nobody was on the scaffolding at the time, and no pedestrian or driver was seriously hurt.

"Obviously it's pretty horrific considering what could have happened," said Construction Health and Safety CEO Christopher Alderson.

He told Newshub all construction companies must also have appropriate health and management systems and professional qualifications. Plus, those hiring them must carry out due diligence.

"I think tighter legislation but it's probably about enforcement as well, so we can have all the legislation in the world, but we need the right enforcement," Alderson said.

Newshub has contacted the scaffolding company for comment.