In addition to general duties under the OHS Act, duties under the OHS regulations relating to specific hazards and other OHS issues affecting all workplaces, employers will have the following duties relating to construction work.
You have a duty to eliminate any risks to health and safety associated with construction work.
If it's not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, you will need to take the following steps to reduce it, so far as is reasonably practicable, by:
- substituting the hazard with a new activity, procedure, plant, process or substance that is less of a risk
- isolating the hazard from people
- using engineering controls.
If there is still a risk after using these methods, you must reduce it by using administrative controls, and if any risk still remains, provide additional protection with personal protective equipment.
You will also need to review (and, where necessary, revise) your risk controls if things change or at the request of a health and safety representative.
You must also consult employees and health and safety representatives when identifying hazards and deciding on control measures. For more information, see consultation.
Prepare a safe work method statement (SWMS)
You need to develop a safe work method statement before any high-risk construction work begins, and you must ensure the work is done in accordance with that SWMS.
The SWMS must be kept for the duration of the work and you will need to review (and, where necessary, revise) it if things change.
Provide induction training
You need to ensure that any person who will carry out or supervise construction work completes construction induction training (unless they are already registered and have done some construction work in the past two years).
Site induction (site-specific training)
You need to ensure that anyone you've employed to perform construction work is provided with a site induction about the particular workplace before they start work on site.
The aim of site induction is to make sure that workers are familiar with the OHS rules and procedures of the site; for example, the emergency procedures, the arrangements for supervision of the work, who the HSRs are and any specific issues on the site.
Notification of excavation work
You are required to notify WorkSafe, in writing, of an intention to excavate a shaft or trench at least 3 days before the work starts. This does not apply to work covered by a building permit.
Additionally, you are required to notify WorkSafe in writing of an intention to excavate any tunnel (whether covered by a building permit or not) at least three days before commencing the work.
Return to work
If your worker has a work-related injury or illness, you have duties under the Victorian workers compensation legislation, one of which is to ensure their safe return to work. The employer's obligations include:
- appoint a return to work coordinator,
- develop and implement a return to work plan
- support and monitor your worker when they return to work.