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There is no longer any strict definition regarding what is considered to be "working at heights"; the onus is now on both workers and supervisors to minimise the likelihood of a fall from any height.

In Western Australia, it was previously the case that a person was considered to be working at heights in accordance with WA Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996, Part 3, Division 5, 3.55 and the WorkSafe WA code of Practice: The Prevention of Falls at Workplaces.

Regardless, certain obligations remain. Firstly, contractors must supply a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) to the responsible officer before any works start.

Further, all work at heights that requires use of a harness must be performed by someone with a current Work Safely at Heights certificate, and two or more people must be present. Scaffolds and scaffolding equipment must meet AS/NZS 1576 and the WA Occupational Safety & Health Regulation 1996 / Section 3.72 Inspection and marking of certain scaffolds. As well:

  • A qualified person shall undertake the erection and inspection of scaffolds before the scaffold is used, after alteration or repair and at least every 30 days
  • The area around the scaffold must be kept clear
  • Warning signs must be in place to prevent unauthorised access
  • All mobile scaffolding must have a safety hand rail with a minimum height of 900mm above the working platform, but not greater than 1100mm

Ladder safety practices

All ladders must comply with relevant Australian Standards and be positioned and used as described in the WorkSafe WA Code of Practice: The Prevention of Falls at Workplaces.

For example:

  • The ladder must be placed on firm and level ground and must not block doorways or traffic ways or be placed against windows.
  • The ladder should be placed so that the foot of the ladder is at a 1:4 ratio to the vertical.
  • Ladders should extend one metre above the landing point and be tied off.
  • If a ladder is placed in front of a doorway, the door must be locked and a warning sign displayed.
  • Damaged ladders must be taken out of service and repaired or removed from the worksite.

All necessary precautions must be taken by the contractor to protect people and property from falling objects, debris and tools before overhead work starts and at all times during work.

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