Inspectors crack down on fall risks in construction

Workplace Safety eBulletin - 18 July 2016


WorkSafe Victoria is conducting a State-wide campaign to inspect 1000 construction sites with a focus on identifying and rectifying fall from height risks.

This is a timely reminder for those who are duty holders under Victorian OHS legislation—ie employers, principal contractors and others involved in the control or management of a construction site, or an aspect of a construction site—to review their organisation's current compliance approach.

In this eBulletin, we look at what is involved in getting compliance right for work conducted at heights above and below 2 metres.


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Work conducted at a height above 2 metres

Work conducted at a height greater than 2 m is regarded as “high risk” and duty holders must apply the prescribed risk control measures set out in Part 3.3 of the OHS Regulations. Your risk controls must be identified by completing a safe work method statement that addresses the risk. You should also consult employees and contractors on site when completing the safe work method statement and record details of the consultation.

Compliance requires that your first obligation is to eliminate the risk of a worker falling by completing work on the ground or on solid construction (e.g. certified scaffolding). This might, for example, include completing elements at ground level and craning them to a safe section of the building.

Where a risk cannot be eliminated, duty holders are expected to progress through the hierarchy of risk control measures, namely:

  • fall prevention devices (e.g. secure guarding around voids or edges);
  • then consider use of work positioning systems (e.g. a cable attached the worker preventing them from reaching an unprotected edge); and
  • then consider use of fall restraint equipment, such as a harness secured to the building.

Only where you can document that none of these risk control measures are reasonably practicable, or where there are gaps in your systems that these measures cannot remedy, then you can consider administrative controls such as training, signage and supervision to control the residual risks.


Work conducted at a height below 2 metres

Where work is conducted at a height below 2 m, the general duty of providing a safe workplace applies and you are expected to eliminate or otherwise reduce those risks by whatever means are reasonably practicable to implement.


Bottom line for employers, principal contractors and other duty holders

Duty holders should be aware that WorkSafe will expect to see evidence of compliance with both the prescriptive fall prevention regulations as well as the OHS Act general duties.

A good compliance system will:

  • include a combination of operational and administrative risk control measures;
  • be documented; and
  • be shared with workers on the site both at induction and during the project where circumstances change.

Dru Marsh, Senior Associate

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All information on this site is of a general nature only and is not intended to be relied upon as, nor to be a substitute for, specific legal professional advice. No responsibility for the loss occasioned to any person acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material published can be accepted.