Equipment for working at height

Selecting and operating the right equipment for working at height is an important part of managing a safe worksite.

We have produced guidance on equipment for working at height.

While this guidance has not been updated to reflect current work health and safety legislation (the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and regulations), it may still contain relevant information and practices to keep workers and others healthy and safe.

Please read this guidance in conjunction with all relevant industry standards that apply to you as a PCBU. This guidance will be progressively reviewed and either updated, replaced with other guidance, or revoked.

Safe working with ladders and stepladders

This guide features a checklist to help you work out if a ladder is the best and safest way for you to work, and provides tips on using ladders and stepladders safely.

Safe working with ladders and stepladders  (PDF 1.3 MB)

Safe use of safety nets

This guide describes best practice for safety net design principles, types and classifications of safety nets, safety net components, installing of safety nets, and inspection, repair and maintenance of safety nets.

Safe use of safety nets

Mobile elevating work platforms

This guide provides guidance on safe work practices when using mobile elevating platforms (MEWP), planning the work, the design of the machinery, maintenance, inspection and repair, and MEWP operator training requirements.

Mobile elevating work platforms

Clarification notice

Scaffolding in New Zealand

This guide gives advice on the safe design, use and maintenance of scaffolding.

Scaffolding in New Zealand

Frequently asked questions

Generally saw horses or saw horses with planks are not recognised as suitable work platforms, as they have not been designed for this purpose. The exception to this rule would be if the equipment was purposely designed and manufactured for this use and meets a relevant Standard.

For low-risk, short-duration tasks, scaffolding or a harness is unlikely to be required.

Podium ladders, light weight mobile work platforms, fall arrest soft land systems and safety nets or mesh in addition to harnesses and scaffolding.

Measures selected need to be proportionate to the risk.

The Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1892.1. Portable Ladders sets the following limits for ladder heights:

for temporary non-fixed ladders the maximum length for:

  • a single ladder is nine metres
  • an extension ladder is 15 metres
  • a step ladder 6.1 metres.

where a ladder rises nine metres or more above its base, landing areas or rest platforms should be provided at suitable intervals.

Ladders should be used for low-risk and short-duration tasks, and three points of contact should always be maintained to prevent a person slipping and falling.

The risk of falling onto something below a ladder (e.g. spiked railings or glass covering) is equally relevant as the height of the potential drop in terms of risk.

No. At no time is any person to stand on or work from an external wall top plate without suitable fall protection. This must be considered as part of your planning for a safe approach to working at height.

If prefabrication of the roof structure is not possible and trusses are assembled in situ, a safe working platform (such as scaffold) should be provided around the perimeter of the framing.

Measures to prevent or mitigate the distance of a fall must also be provided internally. This can be achieved by providing a working platform immediately beneath the underside of the trusses.
Either conventional scaffolding, or (if appropriate) proprietary decking systems can be used. The use of safety mesh or other safety rated products that can span across the top of the framing can also be used.

Alternatively, if a safe internal working platform cannot be provided, safety nets can be used if a safe clearance distance below the net and a suitable fixing point can be achieved.

Alternatives to nets are soft landing systems such as bean bags or air bags. In some circumstances safe clearance distance can be achieved by locating bracing of the framing on the outside of the structure.