Do you know the law?
From building design through to installation and ongoing improvements and maintenance, we all have a duty of care to make sure working at height is as safe as possible.
PLEASE NOTE: The information on this page is relevant to Australian-based businesses only. For more information on legal requirements in other regions, please contact us directly.
In this guide
Find our who has a duty of care to ensure safe practices are adhered to when work is being conducted at height.
Explore an overview of the different layers of legislation that are relevant to the height safety industry.
Confused by the terminology? We have broken down what each layer in the hierarchy of legislation means.
Know the risks
Working at heights remains a high-risk activity and is one of the leading causes of death and serious injury in Australia.
Related to falling from height from 2021-2022
Of fatalities occur from a height of 3 metres or less
The estimated annual cost of height safety issues in Australia
Height safety is everyone’s responsibility
Your level of responsibility can vary depending on your role within the design, construction, installation, or ongoing maintenance of a building's height safety and access system. Make sure you're clear on your requirements.
- Building owners
It's your responsibility to ensure the health and safety of any worker carrying out activities on your building, as is reasonably practical.Learn more
- Architects and engineers
When designing a building, it's not enough to rely on a third-party consultation. Make sure you clearly understand your height safety obligationsLearn more
Although many height safety standards apply to manufacturers, building owners, or architects, you're still required to know and understand the laws and regulations as an installer.Learn more
Understanding the layers of legislation
Unfortunately there is no single source of information on height safety requirements in Australia. Here is an overview of the different layers of legislation that are relevant to the height safety industry.
Work Health and Safety Acts
The Work Health and Safety (WHS) Acts are the framework for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of all those at work. They outline the broad legal responsibilities of architects, designers, builders, building managers, installers and maintenance workers.
All states (except for Victoria and Western Australia) are covered by the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act. Victoria is covered by the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 and Western Australia is covered by the Work Health and Safety Act 2020.
OHS and WHS are not significantly different, the WHS simply provides some additional clarification in some sections. All our products are fully compliant with the more detailed WHS Act to ensure more comprehensive coverage Australia-wide.
Work Health and Safety Regulations
The Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations 2011 provide details on how to prevent, minimise or eliminate hazards and risks in your workplace. It is a legal requirement that any PCBU (Person Conducting Business or Undertaking) must adhere to what the Regulations say. If there is not a specific Regulation that relates to your industry, you must choose an appropriate way to manage exposure to the risk as far as is reasonably practicable.
Codes of practice
Codes of practice give practical information on how to meet the requirements of Acts and Regulations. Following an approved code of practice helps ensure you achieve compliance with the health and safety duties in the WHS Act and WHS Regulations.
Like regulations, codes of practice deal with particular issues and may not cover all relevant hazards or risks. You are still required to consider all risks associated with work, not only those or which regulations and codes of practice exist.
Codes of Practice cover various areas including:
Management of risks and how to identify hazards
Implementation and maintenance of control measures
Types of devices for use in regard to the risks or hazards
Australian Standards are published guidelines to ensure the safety, performance and reliability of goods, services and systems.
Standards are not laws, so there is no general requirement to conform to a Standard. However, there are certain Standards that require compliance according to WHS laws. Failure to comply with legally required Standards can result in a breach of WHS and potential prosecution. It’s helpful to note that compliance with Standards, even when not legally required, is often taken into consideration by the court in the case of legal action.
Height safety equipment and working at heights are governed by the below Australian Standards.
AS 1657:2018 Fixed Platforms, Walkways, Stairways and Ladders
AS/NZS 1891.1 Part 1: Safety Belts and Harnesses
AS/NZS 1891.2 Part 2: Horizontal Lifeline and Rail Systems
AS/NZS 1891:3 Part 3: Fall Arrest Devices
AS/NZS 1891.4 Part 4: Selection, Use and Maintenance of Industrial Fall Arrest Systems and Devices
AS2625 Safe Working in a Confined Space
AS/NZS ISO 22846 Industrial Rope Access Systems
AS/NZS 5532 Manufacturers' requirements for single point anchors
You can purchase copies of the above Standards from SIA Global.
Get expert advice
Work with a height safety specialist to ensure you and your workers are being provided with the best fall protection.
Get in touch with our expert team who will provide you with further information and provide details for a height safety specialist in your area.
Familiarise yourself with the essentials of height safety legislation.