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Working at heights is a high risk activity and a leading cause of death and serious injury in Australia.

Between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2015:

  • 359 workers were killed following a fall from a height—11% of all workers killed over this period.
  • Half of these falls involved falling three metres or less.
  • The greatest number of fatalities involved falling from roofs (59), ladders (54), vehicles (27) and horses (33).
  • Workers aged 45 years and over made up 65% of those who died.
  • The construction industry accounted for 37% of falls-related fatalities.

Managing risks

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 height. 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:

External video resources

Additional video resources are availalbe from: 

Further advice

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.



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