Working at height is one of the leading causes of fatalities and major injuries in the workplace. ‘Working at height’ means working in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. In Australia, falls account for about 11% of deaths in the workplace, with half of these fatalities occurring from heights of three metres or less. Due to this, Australian height safety laws have been put in place to minimise the risk of injury or death.
If you’re an employer with staff who work at heights, here are five things you should know about the Australian height safety laws.
- It’s all about managing falls
Australian height safety laws are designed to reduce injury by managing risks of falls. Anyone running a business is responsible for managing risks to health and safety associated with falls that are reasonably likely to cause injury to any person in that workplace.
- There are different types of falls
Australian height safety laws outline the different types of falls that could happen in the workplace. As an employer, it’s important for you to consider all the different types of falls that could occur in your workplace and incorporate them into your WHS plan.
The different types of falls outlined in the legislation are:
–> working in an elevated place
–> working near an opening that someone could fall through
–> working near an edge that someone could fall off
–> working on uneven and unstable surfaces, as well as any other surface from which someone could fall
–> any other workplace-specific places that could cause falls.
- Work should be conducted on the ground whenever possible
One of the key ways Australian height safety laws try to mitigate risks of falls is to legislate that work must be carried out on the ground – or on a solid construction – whenever it is reasonably possible to do so. It is also the responsibility of the employer and their management to ensure this law is abided by in the workplace.
- It’s your responsibility to provide safety gear to manage fall risks
Another way Australian height safety laws try to mitigate risks of falls is to legislate for the provision of adequate height safety gear by the employer to their workers. This clause applies if it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to eliminate the risk of falls in other ways.
- Failure to comply with Australian height safety laws carries a hefty fine
If your business or your workers are found to break any of the Australian height safety laws, your business could be liable to receive a $30,000 fine. Also, any individuals involved could receive personal fines of $6,000.
For more information about the Australian height safety laws, be sure to consult Work Health and Safety Legislation on falls in your state.