Height Safety Standards and Regulations in Australia

| Updated on March 27, 2024

If you’re running a commercial establishment anywhere in Australia, make sure it meets the height safety standards and other regulations applicable in the country. It becomes more pertinent when your employees have to work at heights as part of their daily job activities. As an employer, you are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of all your employees, especially those who work at heights.

Any negligence or lackadaisical approach could invite legal troubles. Your workplace can’t be unsafe for workers. Workers shouldn’t be exposed to health and safety risks when they are at work. Here, the role of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 becomes important. Your office and working environment need to comply with WHS Act, 2011, failing which you can invite legal troubles for yourself and your firm.

What Does WHS Act, 2011, Specify?

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011, also called WHS Act, strongly advocates for the safety of employees and workers working at workplaces. Therefore, all workplaces, offices, and factories must ensure that their premises meet the height safety requirements per the rules and guidelines specified under the WHS Act.

The WHS act clearly specifies that it is the legal obligation of a manager, firm owner, or entrepreneur to ensure that its workers are working in a safe and conducive work environment, not exposing themselves to any health and safety risks that could arise in their day to day working or work profile.

WHS Guidelines: A Perspective

It’s a very disturbing fact that several workers got injured and died while working at heights. Unfortunately, working at heights continues to remain the number one reason behind the death and injuries of workers in Australia. At least 122 workers lost their lives during 2015-2019 due to accidental slips and falls. 

Here’s what WHS Act now wants you to ensure for the workers’ safety and well-being:

  • Solid construction-related work should take place on the ground.
  • All workplaces should have access to emergency exits. 
  • The employer needs to use the latest fall prevention gadgets to mitigate the risk of accidental falls.
  • The company should have an officer or OHS manager to ensure that the workplace complies with the guidelines specified under the WHS Act.
  • The necessary safety guidelines should be followed as per the information mentioned in the Workplace Code of Practice (Section 274, WHS Act). 

The code of practice offers practical insight into matters relating to height safety regulations. It also informs you of the latest safety devices and measures you need to know to achieve height safety compliance as per the law.

Make Your Workplace Comply with Safety Norms

  • The necessity of using safety equipment when workers are working at heights above 2 meters. 
  • The height safety and fall prevention devices and tools must be used as soon as workers start working at a height over 2 meters or on the falling edge of 2 meters. 
  • All necessary safety tools should be installed after a thorough inspection by a qualified safety professional or WSH officer.  
  • Only the safety officer will specify the types of safety equipment and devices your workers should use while working at heights.  
  • The officer will also offer further suggestions to help you accomplish height safety compliance in your workplace. 

Penalty for Non-compliance

Don’t do it. As stated before, you may invite legal troubles if your workplace doesn’t conform to the WSH Act. Premises and workplaces that are non-compliant can attract a penalty or fine to the tune of $250,000 or even more, plus imprisonment of the concerned officers or the business owner. 

The situation could become even more chaotic if a worker working at height suffered a serious injury and succumbed to it days later at the hospital.

Height Safety Standards And Essential Tools

WAHA, or Working at Height Association, specifies the following Australian Standards and Industry Codes for the workers at height and companies engaged in such services:

The Possession of Relevant Tools: As per section AS1657:2018, firms need to arrange necessary safety devices, including ladders, stairways, and walkways, for their workers.

Safety Belts: According to Part 1 of AS/NZS 1891.1, all height workers must wear safety belts while working at heights. 

Rail Systems: As per Part 2 of AS/NZS 1891.2, there should be enough arrangements in place to install horizontal lifelines and rail systems before the workers initiate their work at heights.

The Use of Fall Arrest Devices: Part 3 of AS/NZS 1891:3 mentions the necessity of using fall arrest devices. These devices must stay affixed to the worker as long as they work. 

At present, three types of fall arrest devices are used by workers at height. The Type 1 fall arrest device moves in the direction of the line of the work like rails or ropes.

The Type 2 fall gadgets include spring-loaded anchorage and seatbelts. Whenever the worker is about to lose balance, the locks get activated, preventing falls.

The Type 3 fall-arrest devices protect the workers from accidental slips or losing balance. It includes inertia reels, rescue lifting devices, and others. It is more often used in confined spaces and helpful during the exit process after completing the work.

Use And Maintenance of Devices: Part 4 of the AS/NZS 1981.4 clearly instructs how the safety officer should select necessary safety devices, use them, install them, and maintain the entire industrial fall arrest systems throughout the year.

Some other necessary safety guidelines that firms need to follow are the rules relating to confined workspaces, how to activate the industrial rope access system, and which single-point anchors firms should buy. You can also use tools like Guardrails, Walkways, and ladders as per the requirement of workers.

In Conclusion

Anyone may be unable to stop industrial hazards and accidental falls while working at heights. But using advanced safety tools and guidelines can help you mitigate the risk of serious injuries. A business owner’s primary responsibility is installing necessary safety tools in the office and arranging necessary training sessions for the workers to get familiar with them. 

The use of stairways, guardrails, and fall-arrest devices has been greatly successful in preventing accidents and injuries among workers. So, it’s high time you got your premises and workplaces safety compliant. Get in touch with a safety practitioner and expert to know more.

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