Safety First: Upholding Construction Safety Standards on Your Build Site

Grasp Brisbane’s safety regulations and the legal measures backing them. Prioritise safety with informed guidance.

By John Christian – November 13, 2023
unnamed - Victor Legal

A safe workplace – no matter the nature of the work – is important. It helps prevent injury and illness for workers. It prevents costly delays and payouts for employers. And it ensures that your projects are getting done on time and with the minimum of disruption.

Of course, the construction industry tends to have higher risks than an average workplace. According to Safe Work Australia’s Key Work Health and Safety Statistics 2023, the construction industry had the third-highest number of fatalities in 2022. Because of that, you need rigid adherence to safety standards in order to protect everyone on site, as well as your project’s success overall.

The key to this is first, understanding the safety regulations in Brisbane. And second, ensuring that you are maintaining those regulations.

In this article:

  1. What safety standards are in place for the Brisbane construction industry?
    a. Work Health and Safety Act 2011
    b. Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
    c. Codes of practice
    d. Other regulations
  2. Consequences of Non-Compliance
  3. How can you comply with Brisbane’s safety regulations?
  4. Benefits of working with an expert construction lawyer

Safety standards for the Brisbane construction industry

Work Health and Safety Act 2011

A construction site typically has a range of people present at the same place, including employees, contractors, sub-contractors, apprentices and work experience students. Each of these individuals are protected under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). The safety of the general public is also protected. 

The WHS Act sets out requirements for:

  • incidents and notifications
  • licensing and registrations
  • consulting with workers
  • compliance and enforcement
  • dispute resolution

Its goal is to ensure that a business owner or employer is taking all necessary steps to protect their workers and the community.

Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011

Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (the WHS Regulation) requires anyone conducting business in Queensland to take reasonable steps to prevent or minimise risks in the workplace, and set up an effective risk management process. Its main objective is to help employers to model the WHS Act requirements in their own business.

Provisions in the WHS Regulation are legally enforceable, though the regulator does have the power to grant an exemption from compliance where necessary.

Codes of practice

There are many different codes of practice that help to keep construction sites safe by setting out safety requirements for certain tasks and jobs. Of course these still cannot cover every risk possible, but they are an important part of the process to minimise hazards.

Some codes relevant to the construction industry include:

In 2015, an agreement was put into place that the relevant responsible parties would review the codes of practice every five years. If the work you are carrying out is not covered by a code of practice, you will need to manage the risks as far as is reasonably practicable.

Other regulations

Keep in mind there are other pieces of legislation that may apply to your specific trade. For example electrical work is covered by The Electrical Safety Act 2002 and the plumbing work is covered under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018. 

It’s a great idea to seek out specific advice around your own construction niche to ensure that you understand all the safety regulations that might apply directly to you.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Of course there are many consequences to not complying with safety standards in the construction industry. A workplace that does not protect its workers is likely to have low morale and challenges attracting quality workers. This can in turn affect productivity and the standard of work delivered. A more serious consequence is injury or even death, as well as legal ramifications.

You must notify Workplace Health and Safety Queensland if any of the following happens at your place of work or is due to your business activities:

  • the death of a person
  • a serious injury or illness
  • a dangerous incident

If you are working in the electrical fields, you are required to notify the Electrical Safety Office if any serious or dangerous electrical event happens at your place of work or is caused by the running of your business.

After you have notified the relevant authority, you must make sure the incident site is not disturbed and notify WorkCover Queensland or your workers’ compensation insurer.

If you have not complied with safety standards and are found to be in breach of the relevant legislation, you could be prosecuted. So it’s vital that you get these safety standards right from the outset.

How can you comply with Brisbane’s safety regulations?

​If you’re unsure if you are complying with safety regulations effectively, you can use the Safety fundamentals toolkit to see how you rate. Having a work health and safety (WHS) management plan in place and assigning formal safety roles can also help to ensure you are fulfilling your obligations. 

If you have a business in Queensland and employ workers, you must also have a current workers’ compensation insurance policy, an injury reporting system and a rehabilitation and return to work program.

Benefits of working with an expert construction lawyer

Many business owners worry if they are meeting their duties and obligations, and therefore if they are covered should a workplace incident occur. To give you, your workers and your business the best protection, get in touch with an experienced construction lawyer who can help you achieve peace of mind. 

Not only will we ensure you meet legal requirements for health and safety, and other aspects of construction law, but we can also guide you through the legal process should an accident ever happen at work.

Article by John Christian, Principal Lawyer, Founder and Director of Victor Legal

John has extensive experience in complex civil and commercial dispute resolution and litigation matters, specialising in:

Building and construction disputes
Complex litigation
Contract drafting and review
Dispute Resolution
Commercial Law
Corporate insolvency
Securities and caveats
Debt collection
Contract disputes
Commercial and risk mitigation advice

Share this post

Subscribe for updates

Stay up to date with the latest legal news.