Frequently asked questions about the National standard for construction work and fall prevention in domestic housing

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This page contains frequently asked questions on the national standard for construction  work and fall prevention in domestic housing​.

What does the National Standard require in terms of fall prevention?

The Standard requires a person with control over high-risk construction work to have a written safe work method statement for the high-risk construction work and to keep it up to date. A safe work method statement is also known as a job safety analysis (JSA) or work method statement.

What is high risk construction work in relation to fall prevention?

High risk construction work includes work where there is a risk of a person falling two metres or more.

What needs to be included in a safe work method statement?

A safe work method statement is a written document that:

  • identifies a work activity as having a safety risk or risk; 
  • states the safety risk or risks; 
  • describes the control measures that will be applied to the work activity; 
  • describes how the measures will be implemented to do the work safely; and 
  • includes a description of the equipment used in the work, the qualifications of the personnel doing the work and the training required to do the work safely.

What sorts of control measures need to be considered?

There are no 'hard and fast' rules as to what sorts of controls suit particular circumstances. The starting point should always be to eliminate the risk posed by a particular hazard. For instance, as much of the work as possible should be performed at ground level where there is no risk of a fall from height.

What if the control measures aren't practicable?

There is an obligation to comply as far as is reasonably practicable with the provisions in the Standard. 

How will the regulatory authorities enforce the Standard?

All jurisdictions have general duty of care requirements that impose an obligation on persons in control to identify hazards and assess and control risks. This same general obligation is included in the Standard and applies regardless of any 'thresholds' or other specific requirements.

What does this mean?

It means that where there is any risk of a person falling, a risk assessment should be done and steps taken to eliminate or at least minimise the risk of the fall. Where there is a risk of falling two or more metres, the risk assessment process must be documented in a work method statement.

How can I find out what sorts of controls the regulatory authorities will accept?

There are a number of examples of the sorts of controls considered acceptable in particular circumstances. In very general terms, a single storey residential dwelling should, at a minimum, have guardrails or other forms of edge protection to prevent falls from the roof level but there would not ordinarily be an expectation for full internal or external scaffolding to be installed. However this should not be taken to mean that the hazard of falls should be ignored. Regulatory authorities across Australia have an expectation that the Standard will encourage development of innovative and practical control measures to eliminate or minimise the risk of falls and hence what is considered 'reasonably practicable' will change over time.

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