Protecting workers from the risk of falls

Effective 1 November 2017, we introduced new on-the-spot fines for employers not protecting their workers from the risk of falling from heights.

Worker lying down after falling off a ladder next to him

These fines can be issued by inspectors if the risk to workers is imminent or serious, or if the workplace is considered to be a repeat offender.

The fines are aimed at reducing the number of worker fatalities and serious injuries, and protecting workers and the community from these high-risk activities.

In 2017 alone, we attended 234 incidents involving falls from heights. Over half these incidents occurred in the construction industry.

Eight workers were killed in NSW in 2017, as a result of a fall from height.

Working at heights is a high-risk work activity and requires a safe work method statement. You must assess the risks involved for each activity that involves working at height, and implement the highest level of control that is reasonably practical in the circumstances.

You can:

  • use a suitable working platform and, wherever possible, undertake the work from the ground
  • use edge protection, such as scaffolding or guardrails ensure all scaffolds are checked by a competent person and handover certificate is provided before using
    securely cover open penetrations, or use physical barriers
  • have a safe means of access and egress to all relevant areas of the worksite only use fall restraints and fall arrest systems when other higher order controls are not reasonably practicable
  • establish and test emergency procedures for fall restraint/arrest systems
  • only use ladders for access and egress, or for short term work when controls such as working platforms and scaffolds are not practical
  • give your workers relevant equipment, information, training and instruction to work safely at heights.

Fines are $720 for an individual and $3600 for a corporation.

See how simple safety can be when you’re working at heights.

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