Working at heights is a high risk activity and a leading cause of death and serious injury in Australia.
- 122 workers were killed following a fall from heights.
- The greatest number of fatalities involved falling from buildings and other structures (25), ladders (19) and horses, donkeys and mules (10).
- The construction industry accounted for 40% of falls-related fatalities.
A PCBU has specific obligations under the model WHS Regulations to manage the risk, as far as is reasonably practicable, of someone falling from one level to another. This includes requirements to:
- Ensure any work involving the risk of a fall is carried out on the ground or on a solid construction.
- Provide safe means to access and exit a workplace.
- Minimise the risk of falls by providing a fall prevention device, work positioning system or a fall arrest system.
Ways to minimise the risk of falls
The most effective way to protect workers from the risk of falling is to eliminate the need to work at heights. Other preventative measures include installing a fall prevention device.
- This includes any equipment that is designed to prevent a fall when someone is temporarily working at heights, which once in place doesn’t need any further adjustment by workers using it, for example guard rails or barriers.
Installing fall prevention systems should be considered at the design and planning stage. Examples include roof safety mesh, guard railing, barriers, scaffolding or elevating work platforms. Work procedures should be developed on how to correctly install, use and maintain the system.
More information about the prevention of falls and installation of fall prevention systems are available at:
- Safe design
- Model Code of Practice: Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces
- Model Code of Practice: Preventing Falls in Housing Construction
- Safe working on roofs
The following infographics can be used to help raise awareness about the risks of working at heights:
External video resources
Additional video resources are available from:
SWA is not a regulator and cannot advise you about working at heights compliance. If you need help, please contact your state or territory work health and safety authority.