Published: 2015-10-30


Temporary works in construction



The recent collapse of a temporary structure in Johannesburg has once again highlighted the dangers of temporary structure. Whilst it is not clear what caused the collapse it is reasonable to speculate that there was a catastrophic failure resulting in the death of two people and injuries to a large number of people. This is just one of the many accidents that has occurred during the past year.

Temporary works is very widely defined in the Construction Regulations as follows:

“Means any falsework, formwork, supportwork, scaffold, shoring or other temporary structures designed to provide support or means of access during construction work.”

It is important to note that scaffolding has been included in this definition and that CR 16 clearly states that scaffolding must conform to the SANS 10085. The regulation further states that a designer must be appointed to:

  • Design
    • This person would provide the design to the contractor and would make any alterations required
  • Inspect
    • This person would inspect the works in accordance with the designer’s layout
    • The inspector will give written permission to cast concrete
    • The inspector will give written permission to strip formwork
    • The inspector will inspect the formwork
      • Before a pour or any loads are imposed, i.e. before the placement of re-enforcing steel
      • During the pouring of concrete
      • Daily whilst it is still in place
      • Should also check the back propping until it is removed
  • Approve
    • The person appointed to inspect will more than likely also be tasked with approval

Whilst the regulation stipulates that the appointed designer must take care of the three items listed above, the industry norm is for different competent people to be appointed to perform each function individually provided that they work together as a team with a clear goal of erecting safe temporary works. Once again, this is an industry norm and is not supported by all parties however the Department of Labour has stated in various forums that they would happily accept three separate appointments.

Contractors also need to appoint a supervisor or supervisors to supervise the installation of the temporary works. In the case of scaffolding, the SANS code and CR   16 must be consulted and contractors must comply with the requirements of the SANS code and sub-regulation.

The contractor also needs to do the following to comply with the legislation:

  • Ensure that all  persons erecting temporary works are sufficiently trained to work with the material being used
  • All equipment needs to be examined for suitability prior to use. This means all components must be checked before being re-used.
  • Secure deck panels from dislodgement
  • Prevent persons from slipping on release agents
  • Check the suitability of the founding for the support work
  • Provide safe means of access and egress to the temporary works


Temporary works will always remain a high risk activity but proper planning and management of all of the processes will significantly reduce the chances of failure.


Next time, we will address the issue of fall protection.


Deon Bester.

November 2015

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