WorkSafe Inspector Glen Spaulding discusses the need to correctly store laminated scaffold planks.
Failure of a scaffold plank at height could easily result in serious injury or death, so it is important to ensure they are in good condition, inspected before use and tested regularly to ensure their ongoing integrity.
All scaffold planks degrade over time with regular use; however, laminated timber scaffold planks have been observed to deteriorate far more quickly when they are stored incorrectly between uses – especially when the planks are wet – and extra precautions should be taken.
Laminated planks that are exposed to the weather during normal use and are wet at the time of being placed into storage may suffer fungal decay, a loss in strength and possible delamination if they are not stored correctly.
Wet laminated planks should be stored by stacking them on level bearers well clear of the ground, with spacers between each layer of planks. The stack should be located in a dry, well-ventilated location and the spacers should be aligned with the bearers beneath. A minimum of three bearers and spacers should be provided per layer.
Dry laminated planks stored outside should also be stacked as wet planks are to allow adequate ventilation between planks. This will ensure the planks dry adequately if they become wet. If dry laminated planks are stored indoors, there are no particular stacking requirements.
If you suspect a laminated plank has been affected by fungal decay or has visible mould on the surface, you should contact your supplier for proof testing before using them.
Scaffolders should be aware of the supplier’s criteria for the rejection of laminated planks and should visually inspect the planks in accordance with these criteria prior to use. As with all bad scaffolding components, any rejected planks should be tagged out of service and quarantined away from serviceable planks to ensure they are not inadvertently mixed up.
For more information refer to your supplier’s documentation regarding safe use, inspection and storage and the Victorian Scaffolding Safety Committee publication – Guide to Safer Scaffolds