Compliance code: Prevention of falls in housing construction - Key changes

A guide to explain recent updates to the prevention of falls in housing construction compliance code.


Key changes for 2019/20

The Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy, approved minor amendments to 11 compliance codes (codes) made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), which includes the Prevention of falls in housing construction compliance code.

The minor amendments were made to:

  • reflect amendments to section 35 and 36 of the OHS Act by the Treasury and Finance Legislation Amendment Act 2018
  • improve style and branding consistency across the existing codes.

Change summary

Paragraph 24

Replace "OHS Act s36" with "OHS Act s35".

Figure 13

Make several changes including:

  • Amend guardrail post size in note "Timber on edge" from 25mm to 45mm
  • Move arrow against the note to make it clear what it applies to (post or guardrail)

Add fixing to LH illustration

Front cover

Update front cover to 'Edition 2'.

Back cover

Update translation service contact details.

Key changes for 2018/19

The Prevention of falls in housing construction compliance code 2018 was published on 11 October 2018. It replaces the Prevention of falls in general construction code of practice, 2004. The new code is based on the old code and is designed to:

  • be easy to read and use
  • align with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations)
  • reflect modern work practices and state of knowledge
  • align with other updated compliance codes

New content

Some new content has been added, particularly in relation to:

  • the risk management process

Reference and style changes

The new code includes some standard updates:

  • New references to relevant legislation when legal duties apply.
  • Additional cross-references to make related information easier to find in the code.
  • Information about Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) duties as well as OHS Regulations duties.

How to use this guide

The differences between the old and new codes are outlined in the following sections.

The sections reflect the new layout for the codes. Under each section is a short summary of the key changes and under this summary is a table that lists the headings of the old and new code for ease of comparison.

Part 1 – Introduction

What has changed

The key changes include:

  • Information about the scope of the code has been expanded to include the OHS Regulations definition of 'construction work'.
  • The section 'Duties of builders and subcontractors' in the old code has been replaced by information that sets out all duty holders' primary duties under the OHS Act and the OHS Regulations, with references to the specific legislation that applies. The points in the checklists for employers, builders and subcontractors are incorporated throughout other parts of the code.
  • The former 'Provide information, instruction and training' section from Part 2 of the code now appears in Part 1, with additional content about supervision.

New sections have been inserted, setting out information about:

  • the risk management process
  • an employer's legal duties to conduct consultation with employees and HSRs on matters of health or safety
  • information, instruction, training and supervision
  • requirements for construction induction and site induction
  • how site-specific information can be provided to employers or contractors.

Part 2 – Overview of the risk management process

What has changed

The key changes include:

  • Information about duties of employers, consulting with employees and what 'reasonably practicable' means.
  • Information about steps in the risk management process, with the inclusion of a new section on review and revision of risk controls.
  • Examples of control measures under the hierarchy of control set out in a new table.
  • A new section on personal protective equipment (PPE) that clarifies PPE is not a fall risk control measure and does not include safety harness systems.
  • Information that previously appeared under 'Fall protection measures' and 'Safe work methods for common tasks' in Part 2 of the old code is now covered in Part 3 of the code.
  • Removal of the worked example.

Part 3 – Working at heights above two metres

What has changed

The key changes include:

  • Information about falls from two metres or less now appears in Part 4 of the code. Part 3 of the code now focuses on working at heights above two metres.
  • A new breakout box has been included to remind employers of their duties to consult with employees and HSRs on health or safety matters.
  • New information about safe work method statements and high risk work licences has been included.
  • Throughout each level of the hierarchy of control, the relevant duties and definitions have been included, to ensure the legislative requirements that apply are clear.
  • Information about information, instruction and training on specific risk controls has been removed, and where relevant cross-references to other codes for more information have been inserted.

Under 'Level 2 controls: Passive fall prevention devices':

  • information about ladder bracket scaffolds and step platforms has been removed
  • calculations for the use of machine graded pine (MGP) 10 for timber guardrailing has been added to tables 3 and 4
  • information about elevating work platforms has been moved to the end of the section, and now appears after information about guardrailing and safety mesh

Under 'Administrative controls' new information has been included about the use of no-go areas, permit systems and organising and sequencing work.

Some technical guidance has been revised in relation to 'Safe work methods for common tasks', including:

  • Edge protection should be provided for floor laying and wall framing activities performed above two metres (decreased from 3.8m).
  • For fascia and gutter work, in relation to scaffolds with double planks being used below 2 metres, guardrailing is no longer required to be fitted when there is no clear zone. For scaffolds with a single plank, a clear zone is no longer required, and single scaffold planks may now be used from above 1.5 metres up to 2 metres if guardrailing is fitted.
  • In relation to roofing tasks the term 'critical angle' has been replaced with numerical gradients, to improve readability.
  • Information about roof work up to 3m has been reduced to 2m, to align with the 2m height threshold in the regulations.
  • New information has been included about the installation of sarking for tile roofing and perimeter battens for metal roofing.
  • The worked example has been removed.

Part 4 – Working at heights not exceeding two metres

What has changed

The key changes include:

  • Information previously in Part 3 of the code, about falls from 2m or less, now appears in Part 4.
  • A new breakout box has been included in Part 4 of the new code to remind employers of their duties to consult with employees and HSRs on health or safety matters.
  • The information, instruction and training section has been moved to appear earlier in Part 4.
  • Detailed guidance on the use of stilts has been added to Part 4 of the new code, including new illustrations of safe and unsafe use of stilts.
  • Information about ladder bracket scaffolds has been removed.


What has changed

The key changes include:

  • Information that previously appeared in Appendix 1 is now contained in the Preface at the beginning of the code.
  • Appendix A now sets out the compliance framework for occupational health and safety legislation in Victoria.
  • Appendix 4 'Example of a documented administrative control' has been removed.
  • Appendix D now sets out a checklist for the safe erection of roof trusses.

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