WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Tasmania

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Notify WorkSafe Call 1300 366 322

Falls/working at height

Falls are a major cause of serious injury and death in Tasmanian workplaces. Falls can occur where work is carried out:

  • at height: for example, stacking shelves in warehouses and shops, working on a roof, unloading a large truck, or accessing silos. Using unsafe, incomplete or inappropriate scaffolding are hazards that contribute to falls. Using ladders as a work platform are also a hazard, as standard ladders should only be used as a way to access and leave a work area.
  • at ground level: for example, working around unguarded trenches or service pits.

PCBU responsibilities

As the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you must do all you can to reduce the risk of falls in the workplace, including:

  • identify which work activities put workers at risk of a fall
  • identify which workers are at risk of a fall
  • determine what sources and processes are causing that risk
  • identify if and what kind of control measures should be implemented
  • check the effectiveness of existing control measures.

In detail, you must:

  • manage risks associated with someone falling from one level to another that is reasonably likely to cause injury
  • ensure that any work with the risk of someone falling from one level to another is carried out on the ground or on a solid construction, if it is reasonably practicable to do so
  • provide safe ways of accessing and exiting the workplace or work area where a person could fall from or through a structure (such as scaffolding or an incomplete stairwell).

Specific requirements

Carrying out work on the ground/on a solid construction means you are taking a great step to eliminating the risk of a fall.

However, if it’s not possible to do work on the ground/on a solid construction, you must protect against the risk of a fall by:

  • providing a fall prevention device; if this isn’t reasonably practicable, then…
  • providing a work positioning system; and if this isn’t reasonably practicable, then…
  • providing a fall arrest system.

A combination of these controls may be used if a single control is not sufficient. The code of practice Managing the risk of falls at workplaces covers these systems and control measures in detail.

Identifying hazards

Walk around your workplace and talk to your workers to find out where work is carried out that could result in falls.

Look at work tasks that are done:

  • near an unprotected open edge: for example, near incomplete stairwells or leading formwork edges
  • using equipment to work off the ground: for example, when using elevating work platforms or portable work ladders
  • on any structure or equipment being constructed or installed, demolished or dismantled, inspected, tested, repaired or cleaned
  • on or near a fragile surface: for example, cement sheeting roofs, rusty metal roofs, fibreglass sheeting roofs and skylights
  • on a potentially unstable surface: for example, areas where there is potential for ground collapse
  • on a sloping or slippery surface where it is difficult for people to keep their balance, such as on glazed tiles or wet surfaces
  • near a hole, shaft or pit that a worker could fall into: for example, trenches, lift shafts, service pits or floor and column penetrations.

Safe work method statements

Regulation 291 classes a number of activities as ‘high risk construction work’. These require you to prepare a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) before the work starts.

High risk construction work includes work that involves a risk of a person falling more than 2 metres.

See below for more information on developing a SWMS.

Resources

Managing the risk of falls at workplaces code of practice

Managing the risk of falls in housing construction code of practice

Safe work method statements

Updated: 15th June 2022