Transition arrangements for new trigger point for Principal Contractor duties on Construction Projects
The Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 2011 - the WHS (NUL) Regulations - set a trigger point that determines when construction work is considered a construction project. At the time the Regulations commenced, the trigger point was set at $250,000 for the monetary value of the construction costs. It does not include the cost of the land, civil engineering, utility and other land development costs involved in a land subdivision. Nor does it include the legal and financial costs of a project.
From the outset, no provision was made to allow the trigger point to increase with the cost of construction. In 2015, the Northern Territory Government reviewed the adequacy of the trigger point value for the Northern Territory. As a result of that review, on 4 April 2016, the monetary trigger point value for construction work will be raised from $250,000 to $500,000.
When construction work is deemed a construction project, a Principal Contractor is required to undertake additional duties such as preparing and reviewing a site specific work health and safety management plan; collecting SWMS from all contractors before any high risk construction work is carried out on the site; erecting signs with contact details for the Principal Contractor; and managing risks to health and safety associated with the storage, movement and disposal of construction materials and waste; storage of plant; traffic management in the vicinity of the workplace; and provision of essential services at the workplace.
Due to the extensive timeframe involved in construction work, a transitional provision was introduced to provide clarity around the application of the new trigger point to construction projects already in progress.
Regulation 834 provides the transitional arrangements in relation to construction projects:
- If the construction phase of a project commences before 4 April 2016, the trigger point value of $250,000 will continue to apply.
- If the construction phase of a project commences after 4 April 2016, the new trigger point value of $500,000 will apply.
It is important to note that the term ‘construction phase’ is used in this regulation. There is no intention to capture the design process, site scoping or preparation for a project in this context; however the digging of footings or pouring of concrete would constitute the commencement of the construction phase of a project.