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Creating Healthier Workplaces > Health and Safety > Hazards and Risks >

Working at Heights

Falls from heights can cause very serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Even falls from a low height have the potential to cause serious injury and must be managed. As a result, strong regulatory requirements apply to all fall hazards from one level to another, regardless of the distance from the ground. This includes the use of low level platforms and ladders.

Falling objects can also cause serious injuries if efforts are not made to eliminate the associated risks. It is essential to ensure that objects do not fall onto people who may be under or next to the area where work is being carried out.

Schools are advised that there is a prohibition on DETE staff, students and volunteers being on, or working on roofs* at Education Queensland facilities.

*this prohibition includes all roofs on buildings, structures and covered walkways (e.g. single and multistorey constructions, breezeway roofs, awnings, shed roofs, detached or demountable building roofs, sun shade structures etc.)

Departmental procedures and guidelines

The Working at heights Guideline describes the processes required to safely manage work at heights

Workplaces should identify tasks that place staff, students or others at risk of a fall from heights and;

DETE requires its employees to document their risk management practices in the following ways for all activities which have the potential for falls from height:

Work at Heights Task

Required Actions

Any activity that involves being on, or working on any roof at any state school facility.

Stop. Do not proceed. Being on, or working on any roof at any state school facility is prohibited for all school staff, students and visitors

Activities where you already know the risks and know how to control them.

Review and adhere to the risk assessment/Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)/ Safe Operating Procedure (SOP)

The task involves a fall hazard of less than 2 metres ; AND is:
A new activity or a significant change to an existing activity.

Complete and adhere to a risk assessment Microsoft® Word document252K.
Apply the hierarchy of control starting at level 1 (elimination).
If ladders are used, you must state why you are not using a higher level control.

Tasks that involve fall hazards of 2 metres or more above the ground (measured from the feet)
Tasks that involve fall hazards of 1.5 metres below ground level (measured from the feet).

Warning. Complete a SWMS Microsoft® Word document128K.

Develop and adhere to any SOPs relevant to the safe completion of the task (e.g. for plant and equipment, pre-start procedures).


Many falls take place when people are working from ladders. Ladders may only be selected when it is not reasonably practicable to use higher order control measures. Other options (e.g. an elevating work platform or scaffolding) are to be assessed as to whether they would be safer or more efficient or more suited to the task.


Information to assist your workplace identify, review and manage fall hazards:


Templates to assist users to assess and control the risks associated with fall hazards.

Safe operating procedures

SOPs provide detailed information on how to address issues related to the safe use of equipment. A range of generic SOPs are provided below. Ensure you modify the content to reflect any local circumstances related to your task and equipment before you implement them.

Legislation and other links

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This page was last reviewed on 19 Jun 2014

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