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Using the cost of construction work to trigger legislative duties for WHS: the Australian experience

Salman Shooshtarian (School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Helen Lingard (School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Peter S.P. Wong (School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Built Environment Project and Asset Management

ISSN: 2044-124X

Article publication date: 13 March 2020

Issue publication date: 2 July 2020

Abstract

Purpose

In an attempt to create national harmonisation of legislation, a set of model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations were developed in Australia. These regulations require principal contractors to undertake specific WHS planning and coordination activities if the construction works to be completed cost AU $250,000 or more. However, there are some doubts about the usefulness of this monetary threshold. This study aimed to investigate how effective this threshold can be in Australia.

Design/methodology/approach

To evaluate the performance and operation of this threshold in the Australian construction industry, this study modelled the costs of construction for four construction project scenarios – small classroom, two-storey home renovation with adjacent pool, small commercial warehouse and single-storey house (volume home builder) – under various conditions based on historical data (2011–2017) and in eight Australian jurisdictions.

Findings

Among the six study factors (i.e. the types for construction, geographical location, design specification, delivery method, contracting approach and inflation), the research found considerable variation in the operation and performance of the monetary threshold.

Originality/value

The research highlights some potential challenges associated with the use of a monetary threshold in the regulation of WHS planning in construction projects. Thus, the results are expected to contribute to addressing these challenges, leading to the development of an appropriate balance to achieve efficient and effective WHS regulation in Australia.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Safe Work Australia for the financial support for this study. However, the views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Safe Work Australia.

Citation

Shooshtarian, S., Lingard, H. and Wong, P.S.P. (2020), "Using the cost of construction work to trigger legislative duties for WHS: the Australian experience", Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 369-387. https://doi.org/10.1108/BEPAM-02-2019-0015

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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