Contractors Working for Australian Government Will Need OSH Accreditation

Starting March 1, 2006, firms will need occupational safety and health accreditation with the Australian government to be eligible for certain government construction and building contracts, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Kevin Andrews announced Oct. 28.

The Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner (FSC) in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations will set the accreditation standards, handle the application process and approve or deny requests for accreditation.

"The commonwealth leads the way in promoting an environment in which employers and employees are encouraged to take a cooperative approach to identifying and eliminating hazards that may cause injury or death," Andrews said.

Australia's federal safety commissioner, who is overseeing the initiative, is writing to major construction companies, industry associations and Australian government clients to inform them of the requirements and application processes. The Australian government also is getting the word out through a national advertising campaign.

The accreditation plan will be implemented in two phases. In Phase 1, which begins March 1, 2006, firms applying for directly funded government building projects with a value of $6 million or more will need to obtain provisional accreditation.

To obtain provisional accreditation, principal contractors will have to provide FSC with evidence of:

  • A certified OSH management system, for example, Australian Standard (AS) 4801 or equivalent.
  • Demonstrated senior management commitment to OSH.
  • Demonstrated effective subcontractor OSH management arrangements across building and construction projects.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage construction hazards and high-risk activities. The FSC will conduct site audits of the applicant's systems to manage common hazards.
  • Past OSH performance history.

Once provisionally accredited, contractors can bid on construction projects. However, contractors will need to provide prospective government clients with more detailed information on how they will handle the project and fulfill their OSH obligations.

Officials from FCS will conduct initial site audits of applicants on Australian government or commercial projects. They also will monitor the performance of accredited contractors throughout the life of a project with on-site audits.

At the end of a project, contractors will be asked to provide feedback on how the client agency managed the project's OSH performance. FSC will use this information to help clients improve the OSH management of Australian government projects.

Full Accreditation Required Starting Oct. 1

On Oct. 1, 2006, Phase 1 of the plan will require full OSH accreditation for contractors bidding on directly funded government building and construction projects with a value of $6 million or more.

To be considered for full accreditation, contractors, at a minimum, will need to demonstrate:

  • How senior management commitment to OSH is visible to clients, subcontractors and workers.
  • How safe design principles are considered in the construction project.
  • How they ensure there is effective OSH consultation and communication across the whole project.
  • Effective subcontractor OSH management.
  • The capability of the contractor to collect, analyze and report OSH performance information.

Phase 2 will extend the accreditation requirements to all directly and indirectly funded Australian government construction work, subject to financial thresholds, and is scheduled for implementation in 2007.

The overall plan is one part of the Australian government's broad strategy to improve OSH performance in the building and construction industry.

For more information, visit http://www.fsc.gov.au.

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