Best Practice for Principal’s Compliance to WHS Act

//Best Practice for Principal’s Compliance to WHS Act

Best Practice for Principal’s Compliance to WHS Act

The Issue:

On a many building projects the ‘Principal’ will typically let a contract to a Builder (known as Principal Contractor under the WHS Act) and may also appoint a consulting Project Manager to manage the builder on behalf of the Principal. In simple terms the WHS act places responsibility for WHS compliance on the Principal notwithstanding they may have engaged a Principal Contractor and a Project Manager to manage the project. In other words the Principal cannot be ‘hands off’. The Principal is still obligated to ensure the Builder is complying with the Act albeit it in an ‘oversight’ type role.

For many Principals and consulting Project Managers they are either unclear about this obligation or unclear about how to satisfy this oversight role. If this obligation is not satisfied the Principal is exposed to a high level of risk. The following notes provide an option for how this oversight role could be satisfied. However this is only a guide as every project has its own unique circumstances and the adopted approach must be assessed by person suitably qualified in WHS.

An Approach to Consider:

The consulting Project Manager is required to have a documented WHS procedure setting out how they will provide an oversight role over the Principal Contractor on behalf of the Principal. The following notes set out an example of such a procedure being action by the consulting Project Manager (this scenario is based on a Principal Contractor with a Design & Construct role):

Procurement Phase:
  1.  Set out the WHS criteria, standard and performance required of the Principal Contractor in the Expression of Interest document for the project;
  2. Principal Contractors invited to tender on the project must satisfy the above criteria;
  3.  Assessment of tenders must include an assessment of the Principal Contractors past WHS performance / capability;
Pre-Construction Phase:
  1.  Assess the Principal Contractors project specific WHS Plan. This assessment should be based on a checklist template;
  2.  Implement ‘Safety in Design’ during the design phase;
  3.  Carry out a pre-start check on the Principal Contractor before construction starts. This assessment should be based on a checklist template;
Construction Phase:
  1.  Review Principal Contractors SWMS for high risk activity. This assessment should be based on a checklist template;
  2.  Construction site spot check – periodic checks for WHS compliance on site activity – based on a checklist template (this should include checking that the Principal Contractor is complying with their own audit regime);
  3.  Incident investigation – in the event of any serious incidents on site the consulting Project Manager should review the Principal Contractor’s own investigation to ensure the investigation was adequate including identifying the root cause, corrective action and confirming corrective action is closed out;
Reporting to the Principal:
  1.  Verification must be provided by the consulting Project Manager, in a monthly report, stating they have satisfied their obligations in their Project Management WHS Procedure. Suggested words for this reporting could be:
    “On the basis of the implementation of our Project Management WHS Procedure this month we are reasonably satisfied the Principal Contractor is effectively managing their WHS obligations”
  1.  The consulting Project Manager must be adequately trained to carry out the duties listed above. This training, at a minimum, should include:

a. Training with Industry recognised WHS qualifications such as the ‘Supersafe’ course;

b.  Training in how to review a SWMS;

c. Training in the relevant Codes of Practice;

d.  Training in the consulting Project Manager’s own WHS procedure

2018-08-14T16:52:06+00:00 Uncategorized|