Safety Topic

As a PCBU/Employer, you have a general duty to make your workplace safe. This includes controlling the risk of falls when working at heights.

Legislative obligations apply to the risk of falls. 

If it is reasonably practicable, you must eliminate the risk by doing the work on the ground or on a solid construction. If this is not practicable, you must control the risk using the following measures in order of priority:

  • use a passive fall prevention device
  • use a work positioning system to ensure employees work within a safe area
  • use a fall arrest system to limit the risk of injuries in the event of a fall
  • use a fixed or portable ladder, or implement an administrative control
  • If you use a control measure other than working on the ground or on a solid construction, you must establish emergency procedures covering the rescue of an employee in the event of a fall and provision of first aid.

Any equipment or materials used to control the risk of a fall must be designed and constructed for the task and the conditions it will be used in.
Likewise, fixed or portable ladders must be suitable for the task and set up properly.

If you are using only an administrative control, you must record what it is and the task for which it is being used.

You must review (and, where necessary, revise) your risk controls if things change or at the request of a health and safety representative.

PCBUs/Employers also have a duty to consult employees and health and safety representatives when identifying hazards and deciding on control measures. For more information, see consultation.

These provisions aim to ensure that each hazard that may result in a fall is identified, assessed, and has control measures implemented to prevent or reduce the exposure to risk.

You should notify your State WHS Body of an incident if a fall has occurred in your workplace that has resulted in an injury or death.

Legislation & Codes


The specific requirements for working at heights are located in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (QLD, ACT), Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (NSW)  the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations (NT) and the Work Health & Safety Regulation 2012 (SA & TAS)

The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 outlines your obligations in relation to managing the risk of falls when working at heights in your industry. Your responsibilities include:

  • managing the risks of a fall, from one level to another, where injury is likely (s.78)
  • ensuring all work is carried out on the ground or on a solid construction (s.78(3)). Where this is not possible you must provide adequate protection to reduce the risk of falls (s.79(2))
  • working through the hierarchy of controls outlined in (s.79(3)), including the use of higher order controls (e.g. edge protection).

The Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces Code of Practice 2011 provides more information on managing the risks of falls, the use of ladders, and fall prevention devices.


The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017


The Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996

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