Health and Safety

Taking care with materials, equipment and work procedures and dealing with hazards.

Working at height

Nearly a third of serious harm accidents in the building industry come from falls or trips. The most common type of fall is from a temporary structure: scaffolding, trestles, or a ladder used as a work platform.

Where there is any danger of falling, there are some fundamental safety procedures that should be followed:

  • Use the hierarchy of control to select a fall prevention system appropriate for the situation.
  • Install and use the fall prevention system correctly.
  • Provide training in the correct selection, use and maintenance of the fall prevention system.

An analysis of falls in construction show several common contributing factors:

  • poor hazard management and a lack of a system to identify hazards
  • lack of best practice training and awareness
  • inadequate work standards such as messy work areas or hazardous landing surfaces
  • equipment or structure failures
  • not following instructions.

WorkSafe says the best option is to apply group controls that protect multiple workers from the risk of falling rather than individual controls. This means using things like edge protection and scaffolding rather than one person using a harness. The problem with individual controls is that they rely much more on the judgement of the individual to use them properly.

In one case, a construction worker using a full restraint harness system fell 3.9 metres onto concrete, suffering significant head injuries. The supervision and training was found to be inadequate. The construction firm was fined $39,500 and ordered to pay $58,421 to the injured worker.



Updated: 02 November 2017