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Employers and self-employed people

The following are frequently asked questions about the construction regulations from employers.

What are my obligations as an employer?

The employer must manage the risks to the health and safety of all the employees and subcontractors within their control, and anyone else affected by their work.

An employer must eliminate, reduce or control any risk so far as is reasonably practicable, and ensure that the measures implemented are regularly reviewed, in consultation with workers and HSRs.

The employer must ensure that a safe work method statement (SWMS) is prepared prior to commencing any high-risk construction work, and that the work is done in accordance with the SWMS, which must be kept for the duration of the work. The SWMS must also be reviewed whenever the high-risk work changes, or there is reason to believe that the risk control measures are not adequate.

The employer must also ensure that workers have received construction induction training before undertaking any construction work, and a site induction before commencing work on a specific site.

Can an employer be the principal contractor too?

Yes. However, you must undertake the legal duties of both the employer and the principal contractor.

I'm self-employed. What do I need to do?

You must comply with the Regulations in the same way as employers. Self-employed people will work in situations where they may put people at risk on site, so it is necessary to identify hazards and control risks associated with your work.

Self-employed people must complete construction induction training.

You must also ensure that a safe work method statement is prepared prior to starting any high-risk construction work, and that construction induction and site specific training are completed by any independent contractors that you engage.

Does all construction work need an SWMS?

No. An SWMS is only required when high-risk construction work is being undertaken, and someone's health or safety could be at risk because of the work.

Preparing an SWMS is part of the planning of the work. It helps employers think through the hazards and risks involved in the work, and to choose effective control measures in consultation with employees, HSRs and contractors and their employees so far as is reasonably practicable.

If the work does not involve any risk to anyone, an SWMS does not have to be prepared.

Who must develop the SWMS?

It is the employer's responsibility to prepare, maintain and revise the SWMS as necessary, and keep a copy for as long as the high-risk work is being done.

What must be included in the SWMS?

An SWMS includes:

*    a list of the types of high-risk construction work being done

*    the health and safety hazards and risks arising from the work

*    a description of how the risks will be controlled, and

*    a description of how the risk control measures will be put in place

Can I prepare one generic SWMS for use across multiple sites?

An SWMS needs to deal with the specific hazards and risks on the site where the high-risk work is being done. A pre-prepared generic SWMS is unlikely to meet the new requirements, unless it has first been reviewed in light of the hazards and risks on the specific site and amended as necessary.

Can I use an existing JSA in place of an SWMS?

The SWMS is similar to a job safety analysis (JSA), which has been widely used in the Victorian construction industry. Employers may continue to use existing JSA formats providing they contain all the information required of an SWMS.

When do I need to review an SWMS?

An SWMS must be reviewed, and revised if necessary, if the high-risk construction work changes or if there is any reason to believe that risk control measures are not adequate.

When do I need to give my workers a site induction?

Employers must ensure that anyone employed to do construction work is given OHS training about the particular workplace where the work will be done before they start work on the site.

What do I need to cover in a site induction?

The site-specific OHS rules and procedures should be covered, for example, emergency procedures, arrangements for supervision of work, who the HSRs are and any specific site issues.

The detail required and length of time it takes will depend on the construction sector, the phase of construction that the project is up to, the size of the site, the number and variety of trades working on the site and how much the site is expected to change as work progresses.

There should always be an opportunity for workers to ask questions about their responsibilities and clarify any issues.

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Principal contractors

The following are frequently asked questions about the construction regulations from principal contractors.

What are my responsibilities on a construction project?

The Regulations create a special health and safety role for principal contractors of construction projects worth $350,000 or more.

The principal contractor must:

  • display a sign with their name and contact phone number, where it can be clearly seen from outside the workplace
  • prepare a health and safety co-ordination plan and keep it up to date
  • make the co-ordination plan available for inspection, and
  • ensure that new starters are aware of, and can access, the co-ordination plan

Can there be more than one principal contractor?

No. The intention of this requirement is to ensure that one contractor is responsible for co-ordinating health and safety for a particular project.

A principal contractor can be either an individual person or a company. In the second case, the company as a whole has the duties of the principal contractor (not the individual managers who are employed by the company).

If there is more than one owner, the owners should agree on who is to be appointed as the principal contractor.

Do all construction projects need a health and safety co-ordination plan?

No. A health and safety co-ordination plan is required only when the construction project is valued at $350,000 or more.

Who must develop the health and safety co-ordination plan?

It is the responsibility of the principal contractor to develop the health and safety co-ordination plan before construction work starts, and keep it updated, in consultation with employees, HSRs and relevant contractors so far as is reasonably practicable.

The principal contractor must also make the plan available for inspection, and ensure that new starters are aware of and can access the plan.

How do I calculate the cost of a construction project?

The value of a construction project will generally be the amount set out in the project contract or other agreements. GST is included in the total value when it's included in the project contracts.

It is not possible to avoid health and safety responsibilities through separate contracts relating to the same project. If there is more than one contract, the amounts are added together.

A client may, however, separate a large project involving the construction of several buildings or structures into discrete projects. In this case, there must be a clear delineation of work for which each principal contractor is responsible.

What must be included in a health and safety co-ordination plan?

A health and safety co-ordination plan must contain the:

  • names, positions and responsibilities of all people who have specific OHS responsibilities
  • arrangements for co-ordinating the health and safety of everyone engaged in the work
  • arrangements for managing OHS incidents, and
  • any site safety rules and arrangements for ensuring that workers are informed of the rules

Download a sample health and safety co-ordination plan template.

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Employees

The following are frequently asked questions about the construction regulations from construction workers.

How do I know if I need to complete construction induction training?

If you are carrying out construction work, you will need to complete induction training. This includes apprentices and anyone who is doing pre-apprenticeship training at the site. It also includes any employee who has not done construction work in the past two years, even if they have previously completed an induction.

WorkSafe Victoria has prepared information to help you determine if the work you are doing is construction work. The following publications are available from worksafe.vic.gov.au or WorkSafe's Advisory Service on 1800 136 089:

A handbook for the construction regulations: Working safely in the general construction industry
A handbook for the construction regulations: Working safely in the housing construction industry
Is construction work part of your business?

What does the training cover?

  • Induction training provides workers with an understanding of:
  • their rights and responsibilities under OHS law
  • common hazards and risks in the construction industry
  • basic risk management principles, and
  • the standard of behaviour expected of workers on construction sites.

Is training compulsory?

Yes. From 1 July 2008, your employer must ensure that you have completed induction training before starting work. The training must be provided by a registered training organisation (RTO).

When do I need to do the training by?

If you are already working in construction, you will need to complete induction training by 1 July 2008.

Can I work without any training?

You can work for 28 consecutive days without training if:

  • you are new to the industry or have not done any construction work in the past two years; and
  • your employer has arranged and paid for you to do construction induction training.

This 28-day exemption enables you to work while awaiting a training opportunity. However you must be directly supervised at all times and given the required information and instruction to work safely.

What if I'm returning to construction work?

If you have not done any construction work for the past two years, you will need to complete construction induction training, even if you have previously completed an induction.

Where can I find an accredited trainer?

Contact WorkSafe's Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 to locate a registered training organisation (RTO) near you.

How often will I have to do training?

If you do not already have evidence of construction induction training, you will need to undergo training prior to 1 July 2008. Evidence of your training will remain valid unless you do not do any construction work for a consecutive period of two years or more after completing training.

If you are re-entering the industry after an absence of two years or more, you will need to repeat induction training before you can commence construction work.

What can I provide as evidence that I have completed construction induction training?

An employer must accept any of the following things as evidence that you have done construction induction training:

  • a 'red card', which shows that the person completed the previous Victorian Construction Industry Basic Induction Course which existed before 1 July 2008
  • a construction induction card, issued by WorkSafe following successful completion of induction training by an RTO (scheduled to commence in May 2008)
  • a construction statement of attainment issued by an RTO, pending processing of a construction induction card, or
  • recognised evidence of construction induction training (e.g. a statement or card issued under similar requirements in another Australian state or territory)

I've got a red card. Can I still use it?

Yes. A red card issued before 1 July 2008 is recognised evidence that you have completed construction induction training in Victoria. You do not need to obtain a new card.

I used to have a red card but I've lost it. What do I need to do?

Please contact the RTO that issued your original red card to request a replacement.

Can I use my card outside of Victoria?

Yes. The construction induction card is recognised nationally.

Does my card have an expiry date?

Your construction induction card (or equivalent) will only expire if you do not perform construction work for at least two consecutive years.

I've moved from interstate. Is my previous construction induction training recognised in Victoria?

A card issued under similar requirements in another Australian state or territory is recognised in Victoria. You do not need to obtain a Victorian construction induction card.

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Site visitors

The following are frequently asked questions about the construction regulations from people required to visit construction sites.

Do I need induction training to visit a construction site?

If you are a visitor to a construction site and not performing any construction work, you do not need to have construction induction training. However you must be accompanied at all times by someone who has received training.

I make deliveries to construction sites. Do I need induction training?

If you are temporarily on site to deliver plant, materials or supplies, you do not require training, however you must only remain on site for as long as is reasonable to make the delivery. If you are frequently on construction sites to make deliveries, then it is recommended that you undertake the training as evidence that you have the necessary safety knowledge and awareness to move unaccompanied around a site.

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