What Is The Law?

Do you know your obligations?

Workplace Manslaughter Laws are in force now - are you prepared? CLICK HERE to find out more ...

Ignorance is no excuse. 

No matter who you are - employer, employee, contractor, building owner, facility manager, designer, installer or manufacturer - we all have a Duty of Care to ensure safe practices are adhered to when work is being conducted at height.



These accidents, for the most part, could have been avoided by the installation of height safety and fall protection systems. Additionally there are extremely high penalties for failing to provide the appropriate controls. The highest penalty under the WHS Act (Safe Work Australia) is $600,000 or 5 years imprisonment or both for individuals and $3,000,000 for a body corporate.*

Why not use our Height Safety Risk Calculator now to see if you are fulfilling your obligations?

How do you know what your responsibilities are?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer but below are a few important facts.

*Part 2, Division 5, Offences and Penalties, WHS Act 2011 (Safe Work Australia)

What are Acts?

Acts are the framework for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of all those at work. They outline your broad responsibilities.

The Hierarchy of Legislation for working at heights includes Regulations which set out the specific requirements relating to particular hazards within the workplace. Some of these could be risks such as noise, machinery, manual handling and working at height.

Also within this hierarchy falls Codes of Practice and Australian Standards. Codes of Practice give practical information on how you can meet the requirements of Acts and Regulations. Australian Standards are guidelines to ensure the safety, performance and reliability of goods, services and systems. Standards set out specifications needed to make these goods, services and systems conform. Hierarchy for Legislation for Working at Heights


Since 2012, 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 Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) Act 1984. These two states did not adopt the initiative to harmonise OH & S laws. However, essentially OHS & WHS share the same meaning and it is acknowledged each of these Acts are not significantly different, the notable difference being more clarification detailed in some sections of the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act. As our products are installed Australia wide in most cases we refer to the WHS Act to ensure full compliance.

What are Regulations?

The Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Australian Government) 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 a Business or Undertaking) must adhere to what the Regulations say.

At times there may not be a Regulation or Code of Practice that relates to your industry. If this is the case, then you must choose an appropriate way to manage exposure to the risk "as far as is reasonably practicable".

Hierarchy of Legislation for Working at Heights

With the introduction in many Australian States of Workplace Manslaughter Laws, penalties of which can include jail time and massive fines, it is now even more important to ensure that systems are compliant and workers are given adequate fall protection.

Additionally, failing to take action is no excuse as this can be seen as negligent and, should a death occur in your workplace, you may still be charged. For more information read our article: New Workplace Manslaughter Laws.

Workplaces must adhere to:

What are Standards?

Standards are published documents that give guidelines to ensure safety, performance and reliability of goods, services and systems. They specify the requirements that these goods, services and systems must meet in order for them to conform. There are Australian and International Standards, as well as Standards developed by professional industry associations. For more details view Safework Australia's Australian Standards Information Sheet.

Standards are not laws, however if there is a specific law that states that a Standard must comply with it then it is a legal requirement that you conform to it. Additionally, it is important to note that Standards are quite often a relevant factor in court proceedings. Given that Standards set out guidelines for safety, performance and reliability, the court may take into account whether it was "reasonably practicable" for the person to conform to the Standard.

Hierarchy of Legislation for Safe Working at Height

Height safety equipment and working at heights practices are governed by the below 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

Clarification of AS/NZS 5532 - CLICK HERE to find out more ...

Copies of the above Standards can be obtained from SIA Global.

What are Codes of Practice?

Codes of Practice assist you, your employees and your company by providing practical guidelines to enable compliance with the legal requirements of the OHS Act, WHS Act and Regulations.

Approved codes can be submitted as evidence in court proceedings and may be used when determining what is "reasonably practicable" in regard to hazards, risks or controls.

According to the National Code of Practice for the Prevention of Falls in General Construction "work that involves a risk of a person falling more than 2 metres" is classified as High Risk Construction Work.

Hierarchy of Legislation for Working at Heights

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
  • Emergency procedures
  • Design considerations


NEW Workplace Manslaughter Laws come into force soon - are you prepared? CLICK HERE to find out more ...


Not sure if your and your buildings are meeting industry requirements? Use our Height Safety Risk Calculator now.

Click on the References tab for links to vital documents.

For more information on the difference between codes of practice and other guidance material go to Safe Work Australia's document Codes of Practice and Guidance Material Information Sheet.

Workplace Manslaughter Laws are now in force - are you prepared? CLICK HERE to find out more ...


That's where we can help

There's nothing more concerning than the thought that you are not doing all you can to ensure the safety of your workers. But with constantly changing Standards & Regulations, all with mountains of paperwork, how can you be sure?

Let SAYFA take the worry out of height safety. We can organise height safety audits from independent Height Safety Consultants who will check your systems for compliance and provide you with workable solutions to guarantee you are meeting all your responsibilities.

“Trying to make sure we were following the correct Guidelines, Regulations and Standards on a huge building portfolio was a nightmare. Thanks to the team at SAYFA we are now confident that our workers are fully protected. It's also a relief to know that should we ever get inspected by Worksafe we will tick all the right boxes.”


Links to must have industry information

Acts & Regulations



Industry Documents & Information

Government & Industry Websites

We are constantly trying to provide the most up to date information for you. Please contact [email protected] to let us know if there is any additional information that you require.

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6 Lives

The number of lives that we know SAYFA systems have saved. There may be more . ..

Tell us your story.

Sayfa Man saving livesFalls from height statistics are frightening.

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22 Deaths

The number of recorded deaths in Australia from Jan to December 2020

Falls from heights is the second highest cause of death

Second Highest

Falls from heights is the now the second highest cause of worker death in Australia

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$6.6 Billion

The annual cost to industry

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The percentage of fatalities from heights of 3 metres or less


7.0 Weeks

The lost time attributed to the average compensation claim

Do you need a Height Safety Specialist to ensure that you and your workers are being provided with the best fall protection.

SAYFA can provide details for Height Safety Specialists in your area. For more assistance on how to meet your workplace requirements please call SAYFA on 1300 301 755 or email us at [email protected].