Masonry wall safety during construction work

This guide was first published in 2009 by WorkCover NSW.

This revised edition, published September 2017, has been updated to reflect changes in NSW Work Health and Safety legislation (WHS legislation).

1. Introduction

During construction work, inadequately secured masonry walls (brick or block) can fail due to side loads on the walls, the rate of construction, inadequate foundations or adjacent excavations. Side loads may include wind, inadvertent impact with the walls or leaning materials against them. Such failures can result in serious injuries or fatalities.

Persons are exposed to risk when entering the potential fall zones of incomplete or inadequately secured masonry walls. Potential fall zones include adjoining properties or public areas where there is a risk of the wall falling beyond the construction site.

Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU’s) must manage the risks associated with masonry wall construction to ensure the health and safety of their workers and others.

The safety of masonry walls can be improved during construction work with good planning and preparation, risk management and (where required) temporary supports.

Temporary supports – e.g. braces – are often required until the wall is incorporated into the completed structure and/or the wall has gained sufficient strength to withstand the loads applied to it.