Auckland scaffolding: the risks of extreme weather

The preventative measures we take to ensure your workers' safety

Auckland has experienced an increasing frequency of storms, with heavy rainfall and powerful winds, resulting in major challenges for construction. 2023 marked the wettest January on record for Auckland, and climate scientists have warned us to brace ourselves for even more storms.

With any construction project, safety is paramount. And, given recent extreme weather conditions, scaffolding safety should be even higher on the health and safety checklist. This article reviews the key risks associated with bad weather and how to prevent scaffolding incidents, so your workers can confidently navigate the elements.

Potential weather risks

To put safety first on-site, it's important to be aware of the risks that come with certain types of weather:

High winds

Strong wind gusts can destabilise scaffolding or exert additional stress on the setup, risking collapse or overturn. Unsecured scaffold planks and items like shade cloth blowing away pose a severe hazard to workers, passers-by and surrounding property. There's also potential for the "wind tunnel effect", especially when there are changes in a building's profile due to construction or demolition.

For these reasons, scaffolding structures should be designed and installed with wind load considerations in mind when and where wind speeds can be higher.

Heavy rain

Over the past year, Auckland has been unprecedentedly wet, highlighting the importance of protecting scaffolding from heavy rain. Water accumulation can create slippery surfaces on the scaffolding, increasing the risk of slips, falls or accidents. Without proper preventative measures, scaffolding becomes extremely hazardous to workers.


Lightning strikes and severe winds during storms can pose immediate dangers to workers on scaffolding. Even though it's not as common as high winds or heavy rain, lightning can travel along conductive materials like metal scaffolding, making it extremely dangerous.

A lightning strike can cause severe injuries or even fatalities. To prioritise the safety of workers, you must immediately cease work and move to a secure location away from the scaffolding until the lightning threat passes.

Bright sun

When workers are out on scaffolding in the scorching sun and hot temperatures, there are some things to watch for. Firstly, prolonged sun exposure can pose serious health risks, and bright glares or reflections can be painful. To keep safe, workers need to stay hydrated all day and take frequent breaks in a cool spot, preferably indoors. If possible, it's good to schedule work during cooler hours.

Snow and ice

Although they're a rare risk in Auckland, frost, ice and sludge (even snow in high altitudes) can cause havoc in winter. Not only are these elements slippery, but they also add extra weight to the structure. The added weight is hard to gauge accurately, making it impossible to operate within the scaffolding's weight limit.

To keep everyone safe, it's important to sweep and shovel any snow from the scaffolding before using it, or wait until the temperature rises and all the snow and ice melt away.

The correct preventative measures

To mitigate the risks of extreme weather, be sure to take these precautions:

1. Proper design and installation

Scaffolding structures should be designed and installed by qualified professionals familiar with the area's weather conditions. Adequate bracing, tie-ins and anchorage can enhance stability and reduce the risk of collapse during high winds. For example, wind ties and diagonal bracing can increase a structure's resistance to strong winds.

2. Daily inspections

Thorough inspections before and during work will identify any signs of damage or weakness caused by extreme weather. Pay attention to connections, joints and the structure's integrity. If any damage or potential hazards are detected, immediately rectify the issues to ensure worker safety.

3. Read (or watch) the weather forecast

For site managers, keeping a close eye on weather forecasts and updates is crucial. Track changes in weather conditions and take necessary precautions accordingly. For example, if a storm is expected, follow a reliable weather report to make quick decisions regarding work suspension or temporary reinforcements.

4. Secure coverings

When heavy rain is expected, use appropriate covers or tarps to protect scaffolding from water accumulation. Securely fasten the covers to ensure they remain in place during adverse weather. This reduces slip hazards and potential damage to the structure.

5. Wind load considerations

During high winds, consider reducing the load, reinforcing the structure, or even temporarily dismantling it if necessary. In areas with frequent high wind, scaffolding systems designed with higher wind load capacity can be used to provide continuous stability.

6. Training and communication

Train workers to recognise weather-related hazards and the necessary precautions they must take. Encourage open communication among team members to report any safety concerns promptly, fostering a proactive safety culture.

The Layher scaffolding system – modern safety features for any weather

We understand the importance of worker safety at Sidewall Scaffolding, especially during extreme weather conditions. That's why we partner with Layher. Its expertise and commitment to safety align with our mission to prioritise the well-being of Auckland's scaffolding workers.

With innovative solutions and advanced engineering, Layher designs scaffolding systems that withstand even the most challenging weather conditions. Here's how:

  • Designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, including strong winds, heavy rain and temperature fluctuations.
  • The inherent strength and stability of the equipment minimise the risk of structural failures during adverse weather.
  • Adapting scaffolding systems to site-specific requirements gives a secure and reliable setup, reducing the risk of accidents or hazards caused by weather.
  • Built-in safety measures such as sturdy guardrails, non-slip surfaces and secure connection points.
  • Quick and secure assembly reduces workers' time exposed to adverse weather conditions.
  • Engineered to minimise sway and increase stability for worker safety even in high winds or stormy conditions.
  • Temporary roofs or weather protection components give extra safety during inclement weather.
  • Layher's safety training and support ensure that Auckland workers are well-equipped to handle weather-related challenges and maintain a safe working environment.

Mitigate risk, work safely

The risks of scaffolding in bad weather should never be underestimated. But, the increasing extreme weather in Auckland highlights the need for extra safety precautions on every scaffolding project. The first step is understanding the risks to schedule preventative measures and mitigate incidents. But the quality of your scaffolding is also paramount.

Partner with a professional Auckland scaffolding company

Sidewall Scaffolding's collaboration with Layher brings a range of safety features that helps reduce weather-related risks. With meticulous wind-load considerations and robust designs, the scaffolding is purpose-built to withstand extreme weather conditions. By embracing this safety-first approach and leveraging the expertise of Sidewall Scaffolding, you can ensure your workers stay safe, and projects are completed — in all weather conditions.

Need scaffolding expertise for your next project? Contact Sidewall Scaffolding for a quote – our team would love to speak with you.

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