Working at height
Frequently asked questions
- How do I use a ladder safely?
- What should be covered in prevention of falls training?
- What safety precautions should be taken when using an Elevating Work Platform (EWP)?
- What are the requirements for the inspection of fall injury prevention systems?
- What are the requirements for the inspection of anchorages?
- What are the requirements for edge protection?
- What are the requirements for working on brittle or fragile roofing?
Ladders can be hazardous if they are not correctly maintained and used. Regulation 3.26 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 details the requirements for working with portable ladders. Your employer should make sure that ladders are properly stored and inspected regularly and only used for light work of short duration or for access.
Your employer or supervisor should give you instructions and show you how to use a ladder safely and what safety checks to make before using a ladder. This includes checking that the ladder:
- has no damaged, loose or missing parts;
- is secured against movement and be supported from a firm, level, non-slip surface;
- projects at least 1 metre above the landing place;
- is placed at a slope that is no steeper than 4 units of height to 1 unit horizontally; and
- is rated for industrial use, not domestic use.
When using a ladder:
- always have two hands free to climb up and down (three points of contact);
- any materials or tools (other than those held on a worker's belt) should be transferred to the work area separately;
- always face the ladder while climbing up, down or working;
- never place feet higher than 900mm from the top of the ladder;
- never over-reach from a ladder;
- never work from a ladder above another person;
- never have more than one person on a ladder at any one time;
- do not use a ladder in an access way or where it may be hit by a door;
- do not undertake work requiring restricted vision, welding or metal cutting from a ladder; and
- use a non-metallic ladder where there are electrical hazards.
Training in prevention of falls should include:
- safe work systems and practices to prevent falls;
- hazard and incident /accident reporting systems;
- selection, fitting, use, care and maintenance and storage of PPE;
- selection, use, care and storage of tools and equipment to be used;
- emergency response procedures; and
- safe methods of working on brittle and fragile material.
Selection of an appropriate type of Elevating Work Platform (EWP) should be made following consideration of:
- type of work to be carried out;
- height and reach of the unit;
- safe working load of the unit;
- existing ground conditions; and
- existence of any electrical hazards such as powerlines.
Safety precautions that should be taken include:
- operator and personnel are appropriately trained and familiar with the EWP;
- the EWP is checked for operational safety prior to use;
- the support surface for the EWP is free of penetrations and is preferably flat;
- pneumatic tyres are in good condition and free of defects;
- any travel when the platform is raised is in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations;
- harnesses are connected and worn at all times if a boom-type EWP is used; and
- do not climb in or out of the platform while the EWP is elevated.
Persons operating boom-type EWPs with a boom length of 11 metres or more must hold a WP Class High Risk Work Licence.
Regulation 3.51 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 requires that a competent person inspect fall injury prevention systems. The regulation details the circumstances under which inspections should be carried out.
Regulation 3.53 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 requires that a competent person inspect anchorages. The regulation details the circumstances under which inspections should be carried out.
Regulation 3.55 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 requires that edge protection must be provided to the edge of a:
- fixed stair;
- suspended slab;
- formwork; or
- falsework at the workplace
where a person is at risk of falling two or more metres. Edge protection or a fall injury prevention system must also be provided at any other edge at the workplace where a person could fall three or more metres.
There are also requirements in relation to holes and openings.
Regulation 3.57 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 details the requirements for working on or from brittle or fragile roofing. Brittle or fragile roofing materials include roofing made of:
- cellulose cement roof sheets;
- acrylic; or
- similar synthetic moulded or fabricated material used to sheath a roof or in a roof
which is likely to endanger a person standing on them.
A checklist for the safe working on fragile or brittle roofs is available in the Code of Practice: Prevention of falls at workplaces.