Work at Height Regulations and Requirements in Singapore for the Construction Industry

Written By: SCAL Academy

Date: 22 March 2024

Topic: WSH Compliance and Auditing

Table of contents

  1. Introduction

  2. What is Work at Height?

  3. Work At Height Responsibilities

  4. Work At Height Regulations

  5. What is a Fall Prevention Plan?

  6. What are the trainings needed for Work at Heights?

  7. What is the Permit-to-Work System?

  8. What are Fall Control Measures?

  9. Conclusion


Working at heights presents significant risks and challenges, necessitating stringent safety measures to protect workers from potential falls and injuries. Recognizing these dangers, it's crucial for both employers and employees to adhere to comprehensive safety standards and practices. This article delves into the critical aspects of work at height safety, covering definitions, responsibilities, regulations, training, permit-to-work systems, and fall control measures. By providing an in-depth exploration of these topics, we aim to equip stakeholders with the knowledge and tools necessary to ensure a safe working environment for all personnel involved in work at height activities.


What is Work at Height?

Work at height refers to any task performed where there is a risk of falling from one level to another, potentially resulting in injury. This definition encompasses a variety of scenarios, including but not limited to, working:

  • On elevated platforms or workplaces.

  • Near openings or edges through which a fall could occur.

  • On surfaces that could break, causing a fall.

  • In any location, whether above or below ground level, where there's a risk of falling.

Such tasks demand careful consideration of safety measures due to the inherent risks involved.


What is Hazardous Work at Height

Hazardous work at height distinguishes itself by the increased risk it presents, specifically where falls from heights of more than 3 meters are possible. This category includes working:

  • In or on elevated workplaces with significant fall risks.

  • Close to openings or edges that pose fall hazards.

  • On surfaces with a risk of breakthrough, leading to falls.

  • In areas (above or below ground) where falls from significant heights can occur.

The classification into hazardous work at height is vital for the development and implementation of targeted safety protocols. These protocols aim to prevent falls and reduce the severity of injuries, underscoring the critical need for compliance with safety regulations in such work environments.


By adhering to defined safety standards and understanding the nuances of work at height, employers and workers can significantly mitigate the risks associated with these tasks, ensuring a safer working environment for everyone involved.


Work At Height Responsibilities

Employer Responsibilities

Employers are tasked with the safety of employees working at height, which involves:

  • Conducting risk assessments to identify potential hazards.

  • Implementing control measures to mitigate risks.

  • Ensuring WAH activities are planned, supervised, and executed by competent personnel.

  • Providing and maintaining access equipment and fall protection systems.

  • Adhering to regulations and guidelines from the Ministry of Manpower and the Workplace Safety and Health Council.


Employee Responsibilities

Employees contribute to safety in WAH by:

  • Following safety instructions and procedures from their employer.

  • Using safety equipment correctly and reporting any unsafe conditions.

  • Participating in training programs to improve WAH competency.


By adhering to these responsibilities, both employers and employees play a crucial role in minimizing the risk of accidents and injuries during work at height activities.


Work At Height Regulations

When performing work at height (WAH) duties, both employers and employees must adhere to specific regulations to ensure the safety and well-being of all involved. These requirements are designed to minimize risks and provide a structured approach to managing WAH activities safely. The key components include:


Responsive Iframe

Source: Workplace Safety and Health Council 


Fall Prevention Plan

  • Employer Responsibility: It is mandatory for employers to develop and implement a comprehensive fall prevention plan. This plan should outline the procedures and measures in place to prevent falls from height, including the identification of potential hazards and the strategies to mitigate them.


Training for Persons at Work

  • Employer Responsibility: Employers must ensure that all employees receive proper training relevant to their WAH tasks. This includes training on the use of equipment, understanding of safety procedures, and recognition of hazards.

  • Employee Responsibility: Employees are required to participate in all training programs provided by their employer. They must understand and comply with the training to perform their WAH duties safely.


Permit-to-Work System

  • Employer Responsibility: Implementing a permit-to-work system is a critical control measure for high-risk WAH activities. This system ensures that work is carried out safely and only after the necessary safety checks and authorizations have been completed.


Fall Control Measures

  • Employer Responsibility: Employers need to put in place effective fall control measures. These may include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), installation of guardrails or safety nets, and ensuring that all equipment is properly maintained and inspected regularly.

  • Employee Responsibility: Employees must correctly use all provided fall control measures and PPE. Reporting any defects or concerns about the equipment's safety is also a crucial part of their responsibility.


By following these regulations and ensuring both employers and employees are fully aware of their responsibilities, the risk associated with work at height can be significantly reduced. Compliance with these regulations not only promotes a safer working environment but also aligns with legal obligations, protecting all parties involved from the potential consequences of work at height accidents.


What is a Fall Prevention Plan?

A Fall Prevention Plan (FPP) is a comprehensive document is designed specifically for each site to significantly reduce or eliminate the risk of falls, ensuring the well-being of all involved. Below, we delve into the principles, coverage, components, and the responsibilities associated with an FPP.


Principles of a Fall Prevention Plan

The FPP is a site-specific plan incorporating parts of existing documentation, such as risk assessments, to create a holistic approach towards fall prevention. Key principles include:

  • Comprehensive Hazard Addressing: The plan must address all potential fall hazards relevant to the specific workplace or worksite.

  • Integration into Safety and Health Management Systems: It should enhance and sustain safety measures for work at heights by integrating fall prevention into the factory’s existing safety and health management systems.

  • Clear Responsibilities: Establishing individual responsibilities for fall prevention.

  • Systematic Risk Reduction: Providing a systematic approach to eliminate or reduce fall risks.

  • Preventive Measures Before Work Commencement: Ensuring all reasonable fall prevention and protection measures are in place before starting work.


Coverage and Components of the FPP

The FPP should be customized to the unique conditions of individual workplaces, ensuring its relevance and effectiveness. It encompasses various components, including but not limited to:

  • Policy for Fall Prevention: Defines the organization's approach and commitment towards preventing falls.

  • Responsibilities: Allocates resources and defines roles for the development, implementation, and maintenance of the FPP.

  • Risk Management: Involves hazard identification, risk assessment, and ensuring control measures do not introduce new risks.

  • Risk Control Measures: Implements a hierarchy of control measures, prioritizing elimination and substitution before resorting to engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • Procedures: Establishes safe work procedures (SWPs) to carry out work safely.

  • PPE Use: Guidelines on the use, selection, and maintenance of personal protective equipment.

  • Inspection and Maintenance: Regular inspection and maintenance of equipment to ensure good working condition.

  • Training: Providing adequate training to workers exposed to fall risks.

  • Incident Investigations: Procedures for investigating and analyzing incidents related to falls from heights.

  • Emergency Response: Outlining emergency response plans, including rescue operations and first aid measures.


Development, Monitoring, and Review

A competent person must develop the FPP, with approval from an authorized manager or equivalent. It requires adequate supervision to ensure its implementation, along with periodic monitoring and review to maintain its relevance and effectiveness.


Source: Workplace Safety & Health Council, Code of Practice for Working Safely at Heights


By adhering to these detailed guidelines, organizations can ensure a comprehensive and effective approach to preventing falls from heights, thereby safeguarding the health and safety of their workforce.


What are the trainings needed for Work at Heights?

Ensuring the safety of personnel working at heights is paramount, and comprehensive training is a critical component of this safety framework. In particular, two mandatory courses stand out as essential for individuals involved in Work at Height (WAH) activities: the Manage Work at Height (MWAH) and Perform Work at Height (PWAH) courses. Both courses are meticulously designed and conducted by the SCAL Academy, reflecting the highest standards in safety training.


Manage Work at Height (MWAH) Course

The MWAH course is designed for managers, supervisors, and foremen who are responsible for overseeing and managing work at height activities. The curriculum covers:

  • Understanding the Risks: Participants are educated on the nature of fall hazards and the potential consequences of falls, emphasizing the importance of preventing such incidents.

  • Regulatory Requirements: A comprehensive overview of legal obligations, standards, and best practices related to work at height activities.

  • Risk Assessment and Planning: Training in conducting risk assessments, developing fall prevention plans, and implementing safety measures effectively.

  • Use of Safety Systems and Equipment: Detailed instructions on selecting, using, and maintaining fall prevention and fall arrest systems.

  • Emergency Preparedness: Procedures for emergency response, including rescue plans and first aid measures.


Perform Work at Height (PWAH) Course

The PWAH course targets workers who directly engage in work at height activities, focusing on practical skills and knowledge to perform their tasks safely. Key aspects of the course include:

  • Hazard Recognition: Teaching workers to identify and understand the hazards they face while working at heights.

  • Control Measures: Instruction on the appropriate control measures, safe work procedures (SWPs), and the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • Equipment Proficiency: Ensuring workers can correctly use, inspect, and maintain work at height equipment to prevent malfunctions or failures.

  • Emergency Actions: Training on what to do in case of an accident or emergency, including self-rescue techniques and aiding others in distress.


Additional Training Considerations

While the MWAH and PWAH courses form the cornerstone of WAH training, they are complemented by other training forms to enhance safety further:

  • General Induction and In-house Training: Covers the basics for new workers and specific procedures relevant to the worksite.

  • Toolbox Briefings and On-the-Job Training: Daily briefings and practical training to reinforce safety messages and ensure compliance with safety practices.

  • Customized Content Delivery: Training materials and methods are adapted to meet the diverse needs of the workforce, including language preferences and learning styles.

  • Continuous Learning and Evaluation: Training effectiveness is regularly assessed, with records maintained for ongoing review and improvement.


These structured training programs, particularly the MWAH and PWAH courses, provide a solid foundation in work at height safety, equipping individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to minimize risks and protect themselves and their colleagues from fall-related incidents.


What is the Permit-to-Work System?

A Permit-to-Work is a formal procedure used to ensure that high-risk work is carried out safely and efficiently. It is a document that authorizes specific work, at a specific location, and for a specific duration. It details the hazards associated with the work, the safety measures that must be in place, and the permissions required before the work can commence.


When is a Permit-to-Work Needed?

PTW is typically required for activities that are considered to have higher risk levels, such as:

  • Working at heights where fall risks are significant.

  • Electrical work that poses a risk of electrocution or fire.

  • Hot work, including welding or cutting, that can ignite flammable materials.

  • Entry into confined spaces where there might be a lack of oxygen or the presence of toxic gases.

  • Any other activities that are identified by risk assessments as needing special safety precautions.


Why use a Permit-to-Work?

The primary purpose of the PTW system is to prevent accidents and ensure the safety of workers. It achieves this by:

  • Forcing a formal check to ensure all safety measures are in place before work begins.

  • Providing a clear record of the work to be carried out, along with specific safety precautions.

  • Ensuring communication between all parties involved in or affected by the work.

  • Complying with legal and regulatory requirements related to workplace safety.


Who Can Approve a Permit-to-Work?

The approval process for a PTW typically involves several layers, including:

  • Authorized Managers: Senior personnel who have the authority to approve work permits based on a thorough understanding of the work and associated risks.

  • Safety Officers: Specialists in workplace safety who can assess the adequacy of safety measures and precautions.

  • Technical Experts: Depending on the nature of the work, technical experts (such as engineers for electrical work) might need to approve the PTW.


How to Implement a Permit-to-Work?

Implementing a PTW system involves several key steps:

  1. Identification: Recognize activities that require a permit to work.

  2. Development: Create a PTW form that captures all necessary information, including details of the work, risks, and safety measures.

  3. Training: Ensure that all personnel involved in the PTW process are trained in its use and understand their responsibilities.

  4. Approval Process: Establish a clear procedure for reviewing, approving, and issuing permits.

  5. Monitoring and Compliance: Regularly monitor work activities to ensure compliance with the PTW and conduct audits to improve the system.

  6. Closure and Review: Once the work is completed, the permit should be formally closed, with a review of its effectiveness and any lessons learned.


Source: Workplace Safety & Health Council, Code of Practice for Working Safely at Heights


A well-implemented Permit-to-Work system is a cornerstone of effective safety management, ensuring that high-risk activities are carried out under controlled and safe conditions, thereby minimizing the potential for accidents and injuries.


What are Fall Control Measures?

Fall control measures are measures that ensure safe access to work areas, prevent falls, and protect workers if a fall occurs. Here's a breakdown of the various fall control measures employed in work at height (WAH) activities:


Access to and Egress from Work Areas

Ensuring safe access to and egress from work areas is fundamental. This involves the use of stable, secure, and well-maintained access points such as ladders, scaffolds, and gangways. Measures include:

  • Clear Markings: Highlighting access routes and potential hazards.

  • Regular Inspections: Ensuring access points are in good condition and safe to use.

  • Appropriate Signage: Displaying information for safe use and navigation.


Fall Prevention Systems

These systems are designed to prevent falls from occurring. They include:

  • Guardrails and Barriers: Installed at the edges of elevated work areas to prevent workers from falling.

  • Safety Nets: Positioned below work areas to catch falling workers or debris.

  • Covers and Screens: Used to cover holes or openings through which a person could fall.


Anchorage and Lifelines

Anchorage points and lifelines provide secure points of attachment for fall arrest equipment. They must be:

  • Strong and Reliable: Capable of supporting the weight of a falling worker and stopping the fall.

  • Correctly Positioned: Strategically placed to minimize fall distance and reduce the risk of injury.

  • Regularly Inspected: Checked for wear, damage, and stability.


Travel Restraint Systems

Travel restraint systems prevent workers from reaching a point where they could fall. These include:

  • Harnesses and Lanyards: Connected to an anchorage point, they restrict how close a worker can get to an edge.

  • Adjustable Restraints: Allow for flexibility in movement while preventing access to dangerous areas.


Personal Fall Arrest Systems

Personal fall arrest systems catch workers if they fall, minimizing injury. Components include:

  • Body Harnesses: Distribute fall forces over the body, reducing injury risk.

  • Shock Absorbers: Reduce the impact force experienced by the worker.

  • Connectors: Such as lanyards or retractable lifelines, connect the harness to the anchorage point.


Work Positioning Systems

Work positioning systems support workers in a suspended position, allowing hands-free operation. These systems:

  • Provide Support: Enable workers to maintain a stable, supported position while working at height.

  • Include Backup Arrest Features: In case the primary support fails, a backup system catches the worker.


Implementing these fall control measures requires thorough planning, regular maintenance, and comprehensive training for all involved. By adopting a multifaceted approach to fall prevention and protection, workplaces can significantly reduce the risk of fall-related injuries and fatalities, ensuring a safer environment for everyone involved in work at height activities.



The importance of safety in work at height activities cannot be overstated. With the potential risks and hazards inherently associated with working at elevated levels, adopting a comprehensive approach to safety is paramount. From understanding the fundamentals of work at height and recognizing the responsibilities of both employers and employees, to implementing effective training programs and fall control measures, each aspect contributes to creating a safer work environment. By prioritizing safety and adhering to established regulations and best practices, organizations can not only comply with legal requirements but also foster a culture of safety that protects their most valuable asset—their workforce.



Course Duration

0.0 Day Course

  • Training Hours – 0.0 hours

Medium Of Instruction

  • English

  • Mandarin

  • Tamil

  • Burmese

Funding Information

Funding eligible for both Manage Work at Height and Perform Work at Height 

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