February 2021: Effective control measures must be in place to manage the risks of working at heights

This safety update highlights the importance of having effective control measures to protect workers from the risks of falling from height when carrying out stevedoring operations.

This safety update is for

  • New Zealand stevedoring companies working on ships
  • New Zealand stevedores working on ships



PCBUs must make sure they have effective control measures in place to manage the health and safety risks from their work. For stevedoring companies, this includes managing the risks of workers falling from height. Situations when stevedoring workers may be at risk of falling from height include:

  • working on top of cargo when loading or unloading
  • climbing up and down ships’ ladders
  • working on raised work platforms with no guard railings or other protective barriers, or where the railings/barriers are not fit for purpose.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), PCBUs must eliminate health and safety risks so far as is reasonably practicable. If the risks cannot be eliminated, PCBUs must put in place control measures to minimise the risks so far as is reasonably practicable. PCBUs must review their control measures to make sure they remain effective and, if necessary, revise them. In addition, under regulation 21 of the Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995, employers have responsibilities around suitable means of fall prevention for employees who work at heights over three metres.


Safety reminder

Stevedoring companies are reminded that they must:

  • eliminate the risks of falling from heights or maintain effective control measures to minimise the risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.
    See Worksafe New Zealand guidance for suggested control measures (Best practice guidelines for working at height in New Zealand (PDF 1.7MB))

  • regularly review their control measures to make sure they continue to be effective
  • keep a record of workers’ training
  • appropriately engage with workers, including when choosing control measures
  • check that workers understand what control measures are in place
  • monitor workers to ensure they are following the control measures
  • ensure workers have the training and equipment necessary to correctly use the control measures
  • provide adequate supervision to workers
  • have regular toolbox meetings.


More information

Reasonably practicable [PDF: 44kB, 2 pages]


Contact us for more help

If you have any questions about this safety update, please contact our Wellington office.


New Zealand (toll free):
0508 225 522


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