Safe Work Australia issues safety warning about falls from height

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Sunday, 6 December, 2020 - 12:30
Industry news
National News

Workers most at risk of death and serious injury as a result of falls from height are those in the construction industry, with most fatalities caused by falls from buildings or other structures, according to Safe Work Australia data.

It found that there were 122 fatalities from falls from heights (which accounted for 13 per cent of worker fatalities) over the past five years.

Serious workers’ compensation claims that resulted from falls from heights declined 17 per cent between 2009-10 and 2018-19, however, during this period, falls from heights still accounted for 6 per cent of serious claims.

“If you manage or are in control of a workplace, you have a responsibility to eliminate or minimise the risk of falls from heights,” Safe Work Australia said.

“A fall from any height can be dangerous, make sure you’re managing the risks.”

Eliminating the risk may include working on the ground or on a solid structure. Minimising the risk may involve using:

  • fall prevention devices (such as fences and edge protection)
  • work positioning systems (such as an elevating work platform), or
  • fall arrest systems (such as safety nets and harnesses).

In most cases, a combination of control measures will provide the best solution to minimise the risk to the lowest level reasonably practicable.

Safe Work Australia’s Model Code of Practice: Managing the risk of falls at workplaces and model Code of Practice: Managing the risk of falls in housing construction provides further information and practical guidance.

Safe Work Australia has also published three infographics that can be downloaded and shared with workers or placed around the workplace: ladder safety infographic, falls from heights infographic and falls data infographic.