Home' Work Health and Safety : Issue 1 Contents 61
While a SWMS is only required for high risk construction work, similar
considerations should be made by a PCBU in all construction work to ensure
that it meets its obligation under the primary duty.
It is the responsibility of the PCBU to prepare a SWMS or otherwise ensure
one has been prepared before high risk construction work commences,
remembering that a construction project may involve multiple PCBUs who
will need to consult to ensure a SWMS has been prepared. However, it is
the PCBU who is directly responsible for the workers who are carrying out
the high risk construction work that is best suited to prepare the SWMS.
If construction work involves two different high risk activities, for example
at a height above 2 metres and also near a trench 1.5 metres deep, then a
single SWMS can be prepared to cover all risks or separate SWMS can be
prepared for each risk.
A SWMS must do all of the following:
► identify the specific work that is high risk construction work;
► specify hazards relating to the high risk construction work and outline the
WHS risks associated with those hazards;
► describe the control measures used to eliminate, minimise or otherwise
control the risks; and
► describe how the control measures are to be implemented and reviewed.
The control measures contained in the SWMS should not be ambiguous
or involve a direction from supervisors to come later. For example “use
appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)” is too ambiguous, instead
the SWMS should specify the specific PPE to be worn, when and by whom.
It is important for a SWMS to have a workplace specific focus. If a PCBU
has a generic SWMS for high risk construction activities that it performs
often, it must be adapted to each specific workplace before work is carried
out. Considerations include the environmental conditions, location, and
other works being carried out on the same site.
A PCBU should consult workers and HSRs when preparing a SWMS,
and the SWMS should include details of who was consulted during the
development process and when they were consulted.
Where high risk construction work is carried out as part of a construction
project that requires a WHS management plan, the PCBU who prepared
the SWMS must provide the principal contractor with a copy before high risk
Once a SWMS has been prepared, the PCBU must put in place
arrangements to ensure that the high risk construction work being carried
out complies with the SWMS. This may include routine or random workplace
inspections to check for compliance, or allocating the responsibility of
monitoring compliance to the on-site supervisor. If the high risk construction
work fails to comply with the SWMS at any point it must stop immediately or
as soon as it is safe to stop.
WHS management plans for construction projects
For a construction project (where construction work costs over $250,000),
the principal contractor must prepare a WHS management plan before any
work on the site can begin. The purpose of a WHS management plan is
to set out the arrangements for health and safety matters on a site in order
to manage the risks associated with a complex construction project with
many different workers engaged by various PCBUs completing a variety of
The WHS management plan must be in writing and should be able to be
accessed and easily understood by all workers, including contractors and
subcontractors, before a project commences.
The WHS management plan must contain:
► names of persons at the workplace whose positions or roles involve
specific health and safety responsibilities, for example sire supervisors,
project managers, first aid officers;
► arrangements for consultation, cooperation and coordination;
► arrangements for managing incidents;
► site-specific health and safety rules and how people will be informed of the
► arrangements to collect and assess, monitor and review SWMS.
In addition to these requirements, the plan may also include information on:
► the provision and maintenance of a hazardous chemicals register, safety
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