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Construction work

'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.

Priority industry

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.


The Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) and the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) became effective in South Australia on 1 January 2013.

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 (as defined in Regulation 291), 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:

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.

Industry Safety Committee

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.

Construction Industry Safety Committee SA Charter April 2014 (PDF 489kb)

Further resources can be accessed from our Library catalogue.