Construction Industry Employer Obligations Under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Laws and Regulations
By Lisa Nguyen, Solicitor, Lovegrove Smith & Cotton
Victorian workplace health and safety is governed by the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (“the OHS Act”), Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (Vic) (“the OHS Regulations”) and compliance codes. They set out the responsibilities of employers and workers to make sure that they are working in a safe work environment.
Last week we discussed the obligations that must be met by employers under the OHS laws and regulations. This week we will discuss the obligations of employers in the construction industry under the OHS laws and regulations.
High Risk Construction works
High risk work includes; scaffolding, dogging, rigging, using cranes, hoist and fork lift trucks and using pressure equipment operation.
The Regulations provide that a person cannot do any high risk work unless they hold an appropriate high risk work licence in relation to that work type.
Employers also have additional specific duties in relation to high risk construction work. They must:
- ensure a written Safe Work Method Statement (“a SWMS”) is prepared and circulated to employees before the work commences. The SWMS assists the employer to identify hazards and risks involved in the work and to choose effective control measurers.
- review and if necessary change the SWMS if the high risk construction work changes or if the control measures do not adequately control the risk to health or safety after any incident that occurred during the high risk construction work;
- ensure that the work is completed in accordance with the SWMS. If the work is not completed as outlined in the SWMS, the employer must cease the work immediately and not start until the work can be done as outlined in the SWMS or the SWMS has been reviewed and changed if necessary; and
- keep the SWMS for the duration of work.
Construction induction training
Employers must ensure that the people who they have employed to do construction work (including apprentices and those who are doing pre-apprenticeship training) have completed their construction induction training prior to starting the work.
A person can be temporarily exempted from having a construction induction card and can do construction work for 28 days, if:
- For the past two years, they have not done any construction work; and
- The employer has arranged and paid for them to do the construction induction training.
However, that person must be directly supervised at all times and must be provided with information and instructions on how to work safely.
An employer needs to ensure that anyone they have employed to perform construction work is provided with a site induction of the workplace before they start. The induction should cover the OHS rules and procedures for the site.
Please note that it is beyond the scope of this article to provide specific details on how to comply with the OHS Act as well as the OHS Regulations.
To assist in complying with your obligations, we direct you to the Victorian WorkCover Authority’s publications of compliance codes. Although compliance codes are not mandatory, if you satisfy the compliance codes then you will be considered to have complied with your duties and obligations under the OHS Act and Regulations.
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© Lovegrove Smith & Cotton 2014