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Fall prevention control measures required in the construction industry

The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (PDF, 2.53 MB) (the WHS Regulation) sets out the specific control measures that are required where there is a risk of a fall of at least:

  • three metres in housing construction work
  • two metres in other construction work.

This maintains the standards for the risks of falls for construction work that applied under the repealed Work Health And Safety Regulation 2008.

It is important to note that control measures may still be required for work below three metres in housing construction, and below two metres for all other construction work, if a risk assessment suggests control measures should be provided.

Inspectors will take the action described in the table below where there is an uncontrolled risk to a worker of a fall from one level to another that is likely to cause serious injury. For example, workers carrying out construction work above three metres for housing construction or above two metres in other construction, that are exposed to the risk of a fall may result in the issue of an Improvement Notice or a Prohibition Notice.

Height Expected controls and inspector response

For housing construction work where the risk of falling is less than 3 metres

An advice to use fall prevention if reasonably practicable, or other appropriate controls. Consideration will be given to issuing improvement or prohibition notices if risk is not adequately managed.
A safe work method statement (SWMS) is required where work is carried out at heights greater than 2 metres. If not an improvement notice may be issued.

For housing construction work where the risk of falling is at least 3 metres or more

Fall prevention is mandatory. If not used, an improvement notice or prohibition notice will be issued.
A safe work method statement (SWMS) is required where work is carried out at heights greater than 2 metres. If not an improvement notice may be issued.

Other construction where the risk of falling is less than 2 metres

An advice to use fall prevention if reasonably practicable, or other appropriate controls. Consideration will be given to issuing improvement or prohibition notices if risk is not adequately managed.

Other construction where the risk of falling is at least 2 metres or more

Fall prevention is mandatory. If not used, an improvement notice or prohibition notice will be issued.
A safe work method statement (SWMS) is required where work is carried out at heights greater than 2 metres. If not an improvement notice may be issued.

Safe work method statements

Construction work that involves the risk of a person falling more than two metres is considered high risk construction work and the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must prepare a safe work method statement (s.291 and s.299). This requirement applies to all construction work, including housing construction work.

In the event that a PCBU determines that the only appropriate way of managing the risk of a fall of two metres or more is through administrative controls (e.g. signs or training) and the use of personal protective equipment, the PCBU must describe on the safe work method statement each of the control measures that were considered in reaching this decision.

Housing construction work

1) For housing construction work where the risk of falling is 3 metres or more, or on a roof with a slope over 26°

Before starting work the person conducting the business or undertaking must have:

  • Fall prevention controls in place (e.g. edge protection) to prevent a person falling any distance, or where this is not practicable;
  • Fall arrest controls that arrest a person's fall (e.g. catch platform) and prevent or minimise the risk of death or injury to a person when the fall is arrested.

The WHS Regulation sets out specific requirements for these types of control measures (s.306E to s. 306J).

Note: Where the risk of falling is 3 metres or more, lower order administrative controls (e.g. training, safe work procedures) are not permitted on their own.

2) For housing construction work where the risk of falling is less than 3 metres, or on a roof with a slope less than 26°

Before starting work the person conducting the business or undertaking must:

  • Identify the hazards that may result in a fall or cause death or injury if a person were to fall e.g. a picket fence or stack of bricks that could cause injury if a person fell on it; and
  • Assess the risk of death or injury that may result because of the hazard i.e. how likely is it to happen?, how serious could the injury be?; and
  • Use any control measures necessary to prevent, or minimise the risk e.g. catch platform, travel restraint system, no go areas, safe work procedures and training.

Read more on managing fall risks on roofs in housing construction (PDF, 1146.79 KB) .

Other construction work

1) For other construction work where the risk of falling is 2 metres or more, or on a roof with a slope over 26°

Before starting work the person conducting the business or undertaking must:

  • Fall prevention controls in place (e.g. edge protection or travel restraint system) to prevent a person falling any distance, or where this is not practicable;
  • Fall arrest controls that arrest a person's fall (e.g. fall arrest harness or catch platform) and prevent or minimise the risk of death or injury to a person when the fall is arrested.

The WHS Regulation sets out specific requirements for these types of control measures (s.306E to s.306J).

Note: For work carried out 2 metres and above lower order administrative controls are not permitted on their own.

2) For other construction work where the risk of falling is less than 2 metres, or on a roof with a slope less than 26°

Before starting work the person conducting the business or undertaking must:

  • Identify the hazards that may result in a fall or cause death or injury if a person were to fall e.g. a picket fence or stack of bricks that could cause injury if a person fell on it; and
  • Assess the risk of death or injury that may result because of the hazard hazard i.e. how likely is it to happen?, how serious could the injury be?; and
  • Use any control measures necessary to prevent, or minimise the level of risk. This could include fall prevention, fall arrest, and/or administrative controls.
Last updated
04 April 2017

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