Safe Work Australia Releases Draft WHS Code of Practice for Construction Work


On 30 August 2013, Safe Work Australia released a revised draft model Work Health and Safety Code of Practice for Construction Work (Code) after it was determined that the original draft Code needed to provide a greater level of guidance to participants in the housing construction industry.

The Revised Code

The Code was originally developed to provide practical guidance to principal contractors and other persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), who carry out construction work, on how to discharge their obligations under the model Work Health and Safety Act and its associated regulations.

The revised Code contains information on various safety requirements relating to construction work under the model Work Health and Safety Regulations. This includes guidance on Work, Health and Safety Management Plans and induction training, as well as identifying common hazards and risks in the construction industry. In summary, the revised Code addresses:

  1. specific duties relating to construction work such as those on PCBUs, officers, workers and other persons under the work, health and safety legislation 
  2. managing risks associated with construction work, including appropriate risk control measures 
  3. preparing, implementing and reviewing Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) 
  4. preparing, implementing and reviewing Work, Health and Safety Management Plans for construction projects 
  5. information, training (including induction), instruction and supervision 
  6. general workplace management arrangements.

The revised Code also contains examples and templates for SWMS and Work, Health and Safety Management Plans to assist those in the construction industry in discharging their duties.

Consultation and Revision

Along with the increased guidance for the housing and construction industry, further revisions have been made to improve the overall clarity of the document. These changes include amendments to the previous SWMS template for high-risk construction work to make it easier to understand and use. Once finalised, the revised Code is intended to be the first point of reference for a principal contractor or PCBU carrying out any type of construction work.

The public comment period for public submissions on the Code will close at 5.00pm on Wednesday 2 October 2013. For copies of the Code and further information on submissions, see the Safe Work Australia website.

As Codes of Practice are admissible in court proceedings under the Work Health and Safety legislation, it is advisable that your organisation reviews the Code and makes submissions on matters which are impracticable when implementing the Code in your business.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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