If you have people working from heights, then you need to make sure that your working at heights SWMS is taken with the appropriate seriousness, as a critical component of your overall OH&S obligations. According to Safe Work Australia, falls from heights still account for a massive 13 percent of all fatalities on the worksite, making this one of the risks that you need to pay particular attention to.
It’s not just that you should want to adequately protect your staff because it’s the right thing to do, there are also serious penalties for shirking your responsibilities in this area. In 2017, for example, a company in Toowoomba was fined $75,000 for exposing workers to an unacceptable level of risk of a fall from heights.
Safety starts with the working at heights SWMS
The working at heights SWMS needs to be completed for every site where you will have people working, and where there is the risk of injuries from falls. This document needs to be completed for every new site, because every site will have a different risk profile, and require different risk mitigation strategies.
The SWMS will subsequently outline the type of equipment required for the site (head protection, visibility equipment, harness equipment and so on), as well the on-site practices and behaviours that will minimise the risk to workers and others.
But it’s important to understand that the work doesn’t stop there, and the SWMS needs to be a document that is continually referred back to throughout the project, including in the following circumstances:
   – Regular inspections and observations must be conducted by the person in charge of the workplace to ensure the SWMS is being complied       with.
   – Employee and subcontractor toolbox talks must be undertaken to identify, control and communicate site hazards.
   – Work must cease immediately if an incident or near miss occurs. The SWMS must be amended in consultation with relevant persons to       ensure the incident will not re-occur.
   – The SWMS must be easily accessible for inspection or review and must be retained until work has been completed.
Additionally, the SWMS, and safety measures, need to be communicated clearly to all workers on-site before a project commences.
How do I organise a working at heights SWMS?

The simplest and most inexpensive way to meet your compliance obligations is to purchase a working at heights SWMS template from NECA. This is just a template, and the specifics will still need to be filled in by site, but the legal language and foundation has always been provided by our team of experts, and that will give you the basis, saving you a great deal of time and money.
It is important to remember that the SWMS is only the starting point for meeting your safety obligations. By joining NECA as a member, you will gain additional benefits, as our organisation is razor-focused on helping our customers to remain in compliance at all levels, and when working in any environment. Our consulting expertise, backed by our long history in OH&S in Australia, will ensure that your working spaces are fully compliant at all times.
To talk to an expert member of the NECA team about your health and safety requirements, or to learn more about working at heights and other key SWMS documents,click here.