Prior to January 2012, all Work at Height training in Australia hung its hat on the fact that if workers were working above 2m in height, then a fall-prevention system had to be in place (and workers had to be trained in its use).
On 1 January 2012, a harmonised Work Health and Safety legislation came into effect for New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory. It is unfortunate that we do not, at this stage, have nationally consistent OH&S laws although progress towards this aim is ongoing. The remaining jurisdictions of Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania all appear to be planning for a 2013 time frame.
As part of the new legislation, the 2m stipulation has been removed.
So what is the new rule?
The current Model Code of Practice (as at January 2012) applies to all workplaces covered by the WHS Act and Regulations where there is a risk of a fall by a person from one level to another that is reasonably likely to cause injury.
The Code gives some examples as to situations where a worker might be exposed to the risk of a fall:
in or on plant or a structure that is at an elevated level
in or on plant that is being used to gain access to an elevated level
in the vicinity of an opening through which a person could fall
in the vicinity of an edge over which a person could fall
on or in the vicinity of a surface through which a person could fall
on or near the vicinity of a slippery, sloping or unstable surface.