School operations

Prevention of Falls when Working at Heights


The purpose of this policy is to prevent falls by outlining the requirements for safely working at height.


  • The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act (2004) (Vic)External Link requires the department, so far as is reasonably practicable, to provide and maintain for employees a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
  • The OHS Regulations 2017 (Vic)External Link require the department, so far as is reasonably practicable, to manage the risks associated with working at heights.
  • No department employee is permitted to work at height, unless their role specifically requires them to do so, and they have undertaken the required training as detailed below.
  • To prevent falls all people working at height must be trained, all work at height must be identified, related hazards and relevant risks identified, managed and controlled.
  • The principal and/or their delegate must identify working at height tasks and implement appropriate controls.
  • Under the OHS Act 2004, employees while at work must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions.
  • Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and employees to be safe and well, including access to the OHS Advisory Service and local regional officers who can provide free advice on managing risks related to working at height.
  • The Prevention of Falls when Working at Heights Procedure (in the Procedure tab) must be followed, and sets out the practical step-by-step instructions for implementing this policy.
  • This Policy forms part of the department’s OHS Management System, refer to the OHS Management System (OHSMS) Overview for further information.


The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) and employees, must ensure that:

  • all tasks, where there is a potential to fall 2 metres or more, are identified (for example, working on a ladder or a roof)
  • hazards associated with these tasks are identified (for example, falling)
  • risks associated with the identified hazards are assessed
  • risk controls to prevent falls are identified and implemented in consideration of the hierarchy of controls — refer to the Prevention of Falls Procedure
  • ladders are only used when all other risk controls have been considered
  • all identified tasks, hazards, risk ratings and risk controls are recorded in the OHS risk register (XLSX)External Link
  • a review of controls implemented is conducted to ensure their effectiveness in managing the risk and incorporate any changes to controls on the OHS risk register.

The principal and/or their delegate must ensure:

  • permission to work at height or near an excavation site is included in employees’ position descriptions
  • employees, volunteers and contractors, who as part of their role are required to work at height, are trained in competency-based Work Safely at Heights Training Course (RIIWHS204D)
  • ensure that completed training is added to the OHS Training Planner/Register (XLSX)External Link
  • contractors provide a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)External Link or equivalent for any tasks where there is the potential to fall 2 metres or more, as mandated by the department
  • all SWMS provided by contractors are reviewed and signed prior to commencement of work, to verify it has been sighted and retain a copy.

Employees working at height must complete a risk assessment using the Risk Assessment template (DOCX)External Link or equivalent.


Working at height
Working at a height of at or over 2 metres (measured from the soles of your feet to the ground). This also applies in situations that involve a hole, trench, or pit where person could fall.

Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)
A document that describes the high-risk work being performed, the health and safety risks associated with the work and the risk control measures that will be applied to ensure the work is carried out in a safe manner.

A Job Safety Analysis (JSA) or equivalent may be used instead of a SWMS if it contains the same information.

Department policy on requirements for safely working from heights in schools

Reviewed 17 June 2024

Policy last updated

15 June 2020


  • Schools
  • School councils


OHS Advisory Service

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