On 1 July 2008, the construction part of Victoria's
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
(regulations) came into force. The regulations
impose new obligations on employers involved in construction
work performed in Victoria.
What is 'construction work'?
The definition of 'construction work' is
broad. As a result, the new provisions apply not only to the
traditional construction site, but also wherever work is being
performed in connection with the construction, alteration,
conversion, fitting out, commissioning, renovation,
refurbishment, decommissioning or demolition of any building or
structure, and, or similar activities.
What are the obligations?
As outlined in our
News Alert on 3 October 2007, the construction part of the
OH&S regulations covers managing and controlling risks, the
induction and training of employees undertaking construction
work and the obligations of principal contractors. The key
obligations are outlined below.
Principal contractors' obligations
The regulations impose new obligations on principal
contractors where the construction project is valued at
$250,000 or more. The owner of the site is deemed to be the
principal contractor unless the owner appoints a principal
contractor to manage or control the workplace.
Irrespective of whether the owner or an appointed party is
the principal contractor the regulations require the principal
contractor to fulfil a number of requirements including:
preparing, monitoring and maintaining a Health and Safety
Coordination Plan for the site that complies with the
posting signs displaying their contact details.
Safe Work Method Statements
Where 'high-risk' construction work is being
undertaken, the regulations require employers to prepare a Safe
Work Method Statement.
The term 'high-risk construction work'
broadly covers construction work on telecommunications towers,
demolition, the removal of asbestos, work involving trenches or
shafts (more than 1.5 metres deep) and work where there is a
risk of falling more than 2 metres.
The Safe Work Method Statement must comply with the
requirements in the regulations and work must be carried out in
accordance with the Statement.
OH&S training and induction training
Employers are also required to provide site-specific
OH&S training to employees engaged in construction work. If
any employee is not registered with WorkSafe or has not
performed construction work in the previous two years, the
employer must ensure that the employee completes an accredited
construction induction training course.
What should you do now?
Employers need to:
prepare Safe Work Method Statements for high-risk
ensure all employees receive site-specific OH&S
comply with the requirements for construction induction
Parties entering into contracts for construction projects
valued at $250,000 or more must:
understand the obligations placed on principal
consider who should be the principal contractor for the
particular site/workplace; and
review the contractual documentation in light of these
The penalties for breaching the regulations are significant.
Employers performing construction work in Victoria should
review their practices and procedures and assess whether they
meet the requirements contained in the new construction part of
the OH&S regulations.
For further information on how the new OH&S regulations
will affect your business and operations please contact us.
The content of this article is intended to provide a
general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should
be sought about your specific circumstances.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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