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Managing Contractors - WHS Management Plans - Blog

Posted by Andy Perry on 4 December 2018

As previously outlined in my last Blog in October, managing contractors is an on-going requirement to demonstrate compliance with legislation and industry standards. Generally, Principal Contractors are required to submit a Work Health and Safety (WHS) Management Plan or a Health and Safety Co-ordination Plan which is the equivalent in Victoria.

Health and safety legislation describes' where the cost of the construction work is $250,000 or more a WHS Management Plan shall be prepared and provided to the Person Conducting the Business or Undertaking (PCBU) or the employer prior the construction work. However, this figure may change depending on what specific safety legislation applies to the construction project. For example, in Victoria the cost is $350,000 or more.

When developing a WHS Management Plan the following information must be included in the content:

  • The names, positions and health and safety responsibilities of all persons at the workplace whose positions or roles involve specific health and safety responsibilities in connection with the project;
  • The arrangements in place, between any PCBU/Employer at the workplace where the construction project is being undertaken, for consultation, co-operation and the co-ordination of activities in relation to compliance with their duties under the applicable Act and Regulation;
  • The arrangements in place for managing any work health and safety incidents that occur,
  • Any site-specific health and safety rules, and the arrangements for ensuring that all persons at the workplace are informed of these rules, these may include site inductions and/or pre-start meetings; and
  • The arrangements for the collection and any assessment, monitoring and review of safe work method statements at the workplace.

It would be advisable for organisations to develop a brief checklist to ensure these main points have been included in the documentation to demonstrate legislative obligations had been achieved. To do this sufficiently, the project/contract managers should demonstrate a good understanding of WHS contract requirements and have access to documents associated with the project.

Generally, a deficiency with WHS Management Plans is that they are not regularly reviewed and up-dated accordingly, when unexpected circumstances or opportunities are identified that may impact the health and safety of workers and other persons on the site. The Principal Contractor has a legislative obligation to review and as necessary revise the WHS Management Plan to ensure that it remains current. In addition, these changes must be communicated to the workforce. A simple process to manage these requirements would be to version control the document, such as V1.00, V1.01 or V2.00 where a significant change has been introduced.

Another issue maybe using a generic WHS Management Plan that has been retained from a previous project and has not been comprehensively reviewed for the new project as you may find that each workplace may contain a different working environment and/or condition.

Appropriate documentation and records can clearly demonstrate commitment to meeting health and safety legal obligations and industry standards for auditing purposes.

Author: Andy Perry
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