'Construction work' is any work carried out in connection with the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting out, commissioning, renovation, repair, maintenance, refurbishment, demolition, decommissioning or dismantling of a structure, which includes:
- any installation or testing carried out in connection with construction work
- removal from the workplace of any product or waste resulting from demolition
- prefabrication or testing of elements, at a place specifically established for the construction work, for use in construction work
- assembly of prefabricated elements to form a structure, or the disassembly of prefabricated elements forming part of a structure
- installation, testing or maintenance of an essential service in relation to a structure
- any work connected with an excavation
- any work connected with any preparatory work or site preparation (including landscaping as part of site preparation) carried out in connection with an activity referred to as construction work
- construction work that is carried out on, under or near water, including work on buoys and obstructions to navigation.
Construction work does not include:
- manufacture of plant
- prefabrication of elements, other than at a place specifically established for the construction work, for use in construction work
- construction or assembly of a structure that, once constructed or assembled, is intended to be transported to another place
- testing, maintenance or repair work of a minor nature carried out in connection with a structure. See Safe Work Australia: Construction work – work of a minor nature.
- mining or the exploration for, or extraction of, minerals.
The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 has identified the construction industry as a priority industry for injury/fatality prevention activities. The following data analysis has helped inform our outreach and prevention activities, so that they can be directed where they are most needed:
- The Construction Industry Profile presents an overview of the main causes of workers' injuries and fatalities, and includes a detailed analysis of incidents involving falls from a height, which is the second most common cause of injury and responsible for the most fatalities.
- The Work-related injuries and fatalities in construction, 2003 to 2013 report provides a more comprehensive analysis on worker profiles and fatalities, work-related injuries, workers' compensation claims and hospitalisation of construction workers.
Under these laws certain people have duties they must comply with in relation to undertaking construction work. The person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must:
- identify hazards for the specific workplace
- decide on risk control measures
- ensure risk controls are reasonably practicable for the specific workplace
- implement risk controls
- monitor risk controls
- review risk controls.
If the work is identified as high risk construction work, a documented Safe Work Method Statement is required. See Safe Work Australia: safe work method statement for high risk construction work.
Electrical equipment and installations involved in construction and demolition work must comply with Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 3012: Electrical installations – Construction and demolition sites (AS/NZS 3012), referenced in Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation. Industry guidelines based on AS 3012 have been developed.
A number of Codes of Practice give detailed practical guidance on specific hazards and control measures relevant to the construction industry:
- confined spaces
- demolition work
- excavation work
- first aid in the workplace
- hazardous manual tasks
- how to manage work health and safety risks
- how to manage and control asbestos in the workplace
- how to safely remove asbestos
- managing electrical risks in the workplace
- managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work
- managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace
- managing the risk of falls at workplaces.
- managing the risks of plant in the workplace
- managing the work environment and facilities
- welding processes
- work health and safety consultation, co-operation and co-ordination.
The following model Codes of Practice may also be used as guidance material:
- construction work
- prevention of falls in housing construction
- safe design of structures.
The national Codes and Australian Standards that continue to be in force are:
- National Code of Practice for Precast, Tilt-Up and Concrete Elements in Building Construction
- AS 1418: Cranes, including hoists and winches
- AS/NZS 1576: Scaffolding (Parts 1 - 4)
- AS 2550: Cranes, hoists and winches-Safe use.
These Australian standards are available for loan, free of charge, from our Library.
The Construction Industry Safety Committee SA provides a forum for consultation and the exchange of ideas on the strategic management of work health and safety in the construction industry in South Australia.