Australian Ladder Safety Laws and Requirements in the Workplace

The following information is intended to provide a general overview of the various Australian legislative requirements associated with ladder use in the workplace.

While ladder safety laws and regulations vary between Australian states and territories, a number of common requirements apply across the board, in all jurisdictions.

For example:

  • Obligations with respect to ladder safety are owed by a range of individuals and corporate entities including employers, company officers, managers and workers.
  • The risk of falling from heights is a key area of concern for safety authorities. Adequate training and equipment must be provided to workers to minimise such incidents;
  • Guidelines or Codes of Practice are provided to recommend ‘minimum’ ladder safety requirements to meet legal obligations under relevant legislation; and
  • On a more specific note, there is a consistent requirement for both single and extension ladders to be securely fastened while in use at the workplace.

Lock Jaw Ladder Grip has been specifically designed to assist in meeting legal requirements associated with the securing of single or extension ladders to guttering.

As of January 2012, New South Wales implemented the national model legislation for workplace health and safety, enacting the::

  • Work Health & Safety Act (2011) NSW
  • Work Health & Safety Regulations (2011) NSW

This legislative framework places duties and obligations on a broad range of persons including both individuals and corporations to ensure safe work practices including the safe use of ladders.

Codes of Practice have also been issued to provide practical guidance to duty holders in discharging their obligations with respect to specific safety practices.

Who is responsible for safe work practices?

The Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (NSW) places a duty on any person conducting a business or other undertaking (whether or not for profit or gain), as well as company officers to ensure as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers. In addition, workers and any other persons in the workplace have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others, by complying with safety policies and procedures. Failing to discharge these duties may result in legal liability.

What does the legislation say about the safe use of ladders?

The Work Health & Safety Regulations 2011 provide:

s78(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must manage …risks to health and safety associated with a fall by a person from 1 level to another that is reasonably likely to cause injury to the person or any other person

Specific requirements to minimise risk of fall:

s79(2) [If it is not reasonably practicable for the person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace to eliminate the risk of a fall], the person must minimise the risk of a fall by providing adequate protection against the risk.

Examples: Providing safe work procedures, safe sequencing of work & safe use of ladders

The New South Wales Code of Practice entitled, ‘Managing the Risk of Falls in the Workplace’ (2011) further states that

Any ladder used at a workplace must be set up on a solid and stable surface, and set up so as to prevent the ladder from slipping. Single and extension ladders can be prevented from slipping by:

  • placing ladders at a slope of 4:1, and setting up stepladders in the fully opened position; and
  • securing ladders at the top or bottom, or if necessary, at both ends.

Penalties are imposed for failure to comply with these regulations.

As of January 2012, the Northern Territory implemented the national model legislation for workplace health and safety, enacting the::

  • Work Health & Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (NT)
  • Work Health & Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 2011 (NT)

This legislative framework places duties and obligations on a broad range of persons including both individuals and corporations to ensure safe work practices including the safe use of ladders. Codes of Practice have also been issued to provide practical guidance to duty holders in discharging their obligations with respect to specific safety practices.

Who is responsible for safe work practices?

The Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (NT) places a duty on any person conducting a business or other undertaking (whether or not for profit or gain), as well as company officers to ensure as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers. In addition, workers and any other persons in the workplace have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others, by complying with safety policies and procedures. Failing to discharge these duties may result in legal liability.

What does the legislation say about the safe use of ladders?

s78-9 of the Work Health & Safety Regulations 2011 provides:

s78(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must manage …risks to health and safety associated with a fall by a person from 1 level to another that is reasonably likely to cause injury to the person or any other person

Specific requirements to minimise risk of fall:

s79(2) [If it is not reasonably practicable for the person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace to eliminate the risk of a fall], the person must minimise the risk of a fall by providing adequate protection against the risk.

Examples: Providing safe work procedures, safe sequencing of work & safe use of ladders

The Code of Practice adopted by the Northern Territory entitled, ‘Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces’ (2011) states that:

Any ladder used at a workplace must be set up on a solid and stable surface, and set up so as to prevent the ladder from slipping. Single and extension ladders can be prevented from slipping by:

  • placing ladders at a slope of 4:1, and setting up stepladders in the fully opened position; and
  • securing ladders at the top or bottom, or if necessary, at both ends.

Penalties are imposed for failure to comply with these regulations. 

As of January 2012, Queensland implemented the national model legislation for workplace health and safety, enacting the:

  • Work Health & Safety Act (2011) Qld
  • Work Health & Safety Regulations (2011) Qld

This legislative framework places duties and obligations on a broad range of persons including both individuals and corporations to ensure safe work practices, including the use of ladders. Codes of Practice have also been issued to provide practical guidance to duty holders in discharging their obligations with respect to specific safety practices.

Who is responsible for safe work practices?

The Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (Qld) places a duty on any person conducting a business or other undertaking (whether or not for profit or gain), as well as company officers to ensure as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers. In addition, workers and any other persons in the workplace have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others, by complying with safety policies and procedures. Failing to discharge these duties may result in legal liability.

What does the legislation say about the safe use of ladders?

306L(3) of the Work Health & Safety Regulations 2011 provides:

(3) [A] person conducting a business or undertaking must not use or allow another person to use, a ladder if it is a single or extension ladder, unless:

(b)  The ladder is secured —

       (i) at or near the top to prevent it moving; or

       (ii) at or near the bottom to prevent it moving.

Similarly, a Queensland Code of Practice entitled, Managing the Risk of Falls in the Workplace (2011) provides that:

Any ladder used at a workplace must be set up on a solid and stable surface, and set up so as to prevent the ladder from slipping. Single and extension ladders can be prevented from slipping by:

  • placing ladders at a slope of 4:1, and setting up stepladders in the fully opened position; and
  • securing ladders at the top or bottom, or if necessary, at both ends.

Penalties may be imposed for failure to comply with these regulations.

As of January 2013, South Australia implemented the national model legislation for workplace health and safety, enacting the:

  • Work Health & Safety Act (2012) SA
  • Work Health & Safety Regulations (2012) SA

This legislative framework places duties and obligations on a broad range of persons including both individuals and corporations to ensure safe work practices including the safe use of ladders. Codes of Practice have also been issued to provide practical guidance to duty holders in discharging their obligations with respect to specific safety practices.

Who is responsible for safe work practices?

The Work Health & Safety Act 2012 (SA) places a duty on any person conducting a business or other undertaking (whether or not for profit or gain), as well as company officers to ensure as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers. In addition, workers and any other persons in the workplace have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others, by complying with safety policies and procedures. Failing to discharge these duties may result in legal liability.

What does the legislation say about the safe use of ladders?

The Work Health & Safety Regulations 2012 provide:

s78(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must manage…risks to health and safety associated with a fall by a person from 1 level to another that is reasonably likely to cause injury to the person or any other person

Specific requirements to minimise risk of fall:

s79(2) [If it is not reasonably practicable for the person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace to eliminate the risk of a fall], the person must minimise the risk of a fall by providing adequate protection against the risk.

Examples: Providing safe work procedures, safe sequencing of work & safe use of ladders

The Code of Practice adopted by South Australia entitled, ‘Managing the Risk of Falls in the Workplace’ (2011) further states that:

Any ladder used at a workplace must be set up on a solid and stable surface, and set up so as to prevent the ladder from slipping. Single and extension ladders can be prevented from slipping by:

  • placing ladders at a slope of 4:1, and setting up stepladders in the fully opened position; and
  • securing ladders at the top or bottom, or if necessary, at both ends.

Penalties are imposed for failure to comply with these regulations.

As of January 2013, Tasmania implemented the national model legislation for workplace health and safety, enacting the:

  • Work Health & Safety Act (2012) Tas
  • Work Health & Safety Regulations (2012) Tas

This legislative framework places duties and obligations on a broad range of persons including both individuals and corporations to ensure safe work practices including the safe use of ladders.Codes of Practice have also been issued to provide practical guidance to duty holders in discharging their obligations with respect to specific safety practices.

Who is responsible for safe work practices?

The Work Health & Safety Act 2012 (Tas) places a duty on any person conducting a business or other undertaking (whether or not for profit or gain), as well as company officers to ensure as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers. In addition, workers and any other persons in the workplace have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others, by complying with safety policies and procedures. Failing to discharge these duties may result in legal liability.

What does the legislation say about the safe use of ladders?

s78-9 of the Work Health & Safety Regulations 2012 provides:

s78(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must manage…risks to health and safety associated with a fall by a person from 1 level to another that is reasonably likely to cause injury to the person or any other person

Specific requirements to minimise risk of fall:

s79(2) [If it is not reasonably practicable for the person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace to eliminate the risk of a fall], the person must minimise the risk of a fall by providing adequate protection against the risk.

Examples: Providing safe work procedures, safe sequencing of work & safe use of ladders

The Code of Practice adopted by Tasmania entitled, ‘Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces’ (2012) states that:

Any ladder used at a workplace must be set up on a solid and stable surface, and set up so as to prevent the ladder from slipping. Single and extension ladders can be prevented from slipping by:

  • placing ladders at a slope of 4:1, and setting up stepladders in the fully opened position; and
  • securing ladders at the top or bottom, or if necessary, at both ends.

Penalties are imposed for failure to comply with these regulations.

Safe use of ladders in Victoria is primarily regulated by:

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004; and
  • Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007.

This legislation creates duties and obligations for a broad range of persons including both individuals and corporations to ensure safe work practices including the safe use of ladders.Compliance Codes have also been developed to provide practical guidance to duty holders in discharging their obligations with respect to specific safety practices.

Who is responsible for safe work practices?

The Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004 (Vic) places a duty on employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace for workers and contractors. In addition, workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others, by complying with safety policies and procedures. Failing to discharge these duties may result in legal liability.

What does the legislation say about the safe use of ladders?

Victoria requires that employers provide safe systems of work including the provision of systems to prevent  falls from heights.

Section 3.3.4 of the regulation recommends ladder use only in cases where other more secure forms of safety apparatus are inappropriate. In the event a ladder is to be used, section 3.3.5 of the Regulation requires that:

An employer must ensure that a fixed or portable ladder used in accordance with regulation 3.3.4 to control the risk of a fall—

(a) is fit for the purpose; and

(b) is appropriate for the duration of the task; and

(c) is set up in a correct manner.

A Worksafe Victoria publication entitled ‘Prevention of Falls in General Construction’ (2008) states:

181. Any ladder used at a workplace must be used on a surface that is solid and stable, and set up so as to prevent the ladder from slipping.

182. Slipping of ladders can be prevented by:

•           placing single and extension ladders at a slope of 4:1, and setting up stepladders in the fully             opened position

•           securing single and extension ladders at both the top and bottom.

Ladder safety in Western Australia is governed by:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA); and
  • Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (WA).

This legislation creates duties and obligations for a broad range of persons including both individuals and corporations to ensure safe work practices including the safe use of ladders.

Compliance Codes have also been issued to provide practical guidance to duty holders in discharging their obligations with respect to specific safety practices.

Who is responsible for safe work practices?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) places a duty on employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace for your workers and contractors. In addition, workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others, by complying with safety policies and procedures. Failing to discharge these duties may result in legal liability.

What does the legislation say about the safe use of ladders?

Section 3.26 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (WA) requires that (amongst other things) if, at a workplace, a person uses either a single or extension ladder then the person must ensure that:

the ladder is secured into position so as to prevent slipping or sideways movement.

The Code of Practice entitled Prevention of Falls at the Workplaces 2004 reiterates provisions in the regulation and outlines that portable ladders should be:

secured against displacement (i.e. slipping or sliding) and/or there is another person holding the base of the ladder.

Disclaimer

The information contained on this document is not legal advice. It is provided for the purposes of general information only. Whilst every effort to ensure the accuracy and currency of information contained in this document page at the time of publishing, we do not accept responsibility for the accuracy or currency of information contained in the above information, nor for actions undertaken on the basis of this information. Persons should obtain legal advice in relation to their particular circumstance prior to acting upon information contained in this document.