Construction work includes any work involving:
- renovation, refurbishment, alteration, conversion
- fit out
- commissioning / decommissioning a building or structure
- maintenance and repair
- demolition / dismantling.
Apart from involving buildings, roads and other major structures, construction work also includes:
- any installation or testing carried out in connection with construction work
- the 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
- the assembly of prefabricated elements to form a structure, or the disassembly of prefabricated elements forming part of a structure
- any 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
- 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
- mining or the exploration for, or extraction of, minerals.
High risk construction work
High risk construction work involves:
- a risk of a person falling more than 3 metres
- work carried out on a telecommunication tower
- demolition of an element of a structure that is load-bearing or otherwise related to the physical integrity of the structure
- the disturbance, or the likelihood of disturbance, of asbestos
- structural alterations or repairs that require temporary support to prevent collapse
- work carried out in or near a confined space
- work carried out in or near
- a shaft or trench with an excavated depth greater than 1.5 metres, or
- a tunnel
- the use of explosives
- work carried out on or near pressurised gas distribution mains or piping
- work carried out on or near chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines
- work carried out on or near energised electrical installations or services
- work carried out in an area that may have a contaminated or flammable atmosphere
- tilt-up or precast concrete
- work carried out on, in or adjacent to a road, railway, shipping lane or other traffic corridor that is in use by traffic other than pedestrians
- work carried out in an area at a workplace in which there is any movement of powered mobile plant
- work carried out in an area in which there are artificial extremes of temperature
- work carried out in or near water or other liquid that involves a risk of drowning
- diving work.
Worker injury claims in the construction industry on average cost $20,000 per person, totalling $29 million per year.
The most common injuries to workers in the construction industry are from:
- muscular and musculoskeletal trauma
- slips and trips
- electrical hazards
- hitting or being hit by an object
- mental stress
Common hazards include:
- body strain from repetitive movements, or from lifting, pushing or pulling heavy loads
- noise from machinery
- falls from unguarded areas or fragile roofing
- crush injuries and fractures from plant or machinery
- electric shock from plant that is not adequately protected or isolated.
2020 falls from heights snapshot
Employer / PCBU responsibilities
Your employer or 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.
Any high risk construction work requires the completion of a Safe Work Method Statement.
A number of Codes of Practice give detailed practical guidance on specific hazards and control measures relevant to the construction 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.
Safe work method statement for high risk construction work - Safe Work Australia
AS1418: Cranes, including hoists and winches - Available from our Library
AS/NZS 1576: Scaffolding (Parts 1 - 4) - Available from our Library
AS2550: Cranes, hoists and winches-Safe use - Available from our Library