Safe6. Stay Safe. Stay Alive.

Falls from Heights

Falls from any height can pose a significant risk of serious harm or death. Serious harm injuries have resulted from falls by working at a height of less than a metre so the risk of falling even from this height cannot be ignored. Determine if the work you are about to do at height, whatever the height, has the potential to cause you serious injury should you fall. If yes, the following Rules to Live By, apply.

NOTE: A Site Specific Safety Plan (SSSP) is required and a Task Analysis (TA) for any work at height.

Before starting the work think about the following:

  • Can you build it on the ground?
  • Can you remove things to the ground to repair them?
  • Can you pre-paint things or roofing materials on the ground?

If you can’t work from the ground follow the Rules to Live By:

  • Use full fall protection (see links below) when working at height
  • Secure ladder top and bottom
  • Use at least 3 points of contact when on a ladder (two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot)
  • Fall Prevention - includes methods such as edge protection, guardrails, and physical barriers over holes or gaps to prevent access. 
    Scaffolding – must be safe (compliant), tagged and fit for purpose.
    Edge Protection – must be installed safely, of high quality and strongly anchored.
    Elevating Work Platforms – must be certified, in good condition and fit for purpose.
  • Fall Restraint – Only use if prevention methods are not possible or practicable.

    At least one person in the team must be competent, have fall restraint training and be on site.
    Fall restraint equipment must be certified and right for the job.
    Plan what to do in an emergency.
  • Ladders – Only use as the last option as they don’t provide fall protection.  Think of other options such as mobile scaffolding or step platforms.  If a ladder is your only option:
    • Use hoists or alternative methods rather than carry loads up or down a ladder
    • Don’t over-reach.  Get down and move the ladder to a more suitable position
    • Do not work from the top two rungs of the ladder
    • Use commercial grade ladders only
  • Emergency Response – Dial 111 in an emergency

Further Helpful Information:

Best Practice Guidelines for Working at Height in New Zealand

Best Practice Guidelines for Working on Roofs

Planning a Safe Approach to Working at Height (Factsheet)

Selecting the Right Equipment for Working Safely at Height (Factsheet)

Short Duration Work at Height

Edge Protection (Factsheet)

Temporary Work Platforms (Factsheet)

Total Restraint Systems (Factsheet)


Mobile Scaffold Guide

Scaffold Guide

Logon to the Contractor Toolshed to read these guidelines:
Fletcher EQR Ladder Safety Guideline
Fletcher EQR Working on Roofs Guideline
Fletcher EQR Scaffolding Guideline