Construction on a mine site FAQs

Construction work is any work carried out in connection with the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting-out, commissioning, renovation, repair, maintenance, refurbishment, demolition, decommissioning or dismantling of a structure.

Regulation 289(2) of the Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulation 2022 outlines additional types of construction work. 

Is work on mining plant considered construction work?

Work on plant is only considered construction work if:

  • the plant is a pipe, pipeline or underground tank
  • the plant is designed or used to provide support, access or containment during work in connection with construction work
  • work on the plant relates to work that is carried out in connection with construction work
  • the plant is fixed plant
  • maintenance, overhaul or replacement work is being undertaken, and the work involves five or more persons conducting businesses or undertakings at any point in time. 

Are shutdowns at mines considered construction work?

Shutdowns may be considered construction work if the work meets the definition of construction work in the Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulations 2022. Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must assess whether work is considered construction work before the shutdown commences.

To assist in assessing whether shutdown activities are likely to be considered construction work and a construction project the following should be considered:

  • is there likely or potential to have any activity conducted that meets the definition of a high risk construction work? [r. 291]
  • is there a likelihood there will be 5 or more PCBU’s involved over the duration of the shutdown?
  • are any activities listed in r. 289(2) being conducted?

Will workers at a mine require a general construction induction training card?

Yes, if the worker is carrying out construction work, the PCBU has a duty to ensure the worker has successfully completed general construction induction training (white card training).

If the training was completed more than two years ago, the worker must have carried out construction work in the past two years.

Will a general construction induction training card issued in another Australian jurisdiction be accepted?

Yes, if it is a similar card issued by an authorised registered training organisation (RTO) under a corresponding WHS law and hasn’t been cancelled.

What is considered a safe work method statement for high risk construction work?

High risk construction work is defined in WHS (Mines) Regulation 291. A PCBU that carries out high risk construction has additional WHS duties. These include requirements to prepare, keep, comply with and review a safe work method statements (SWMS) for the high risk construction work.  

A principal contractor or any PCBU conducting construction activities at a mine, can meet the intent of a safe work method statement (SWMS) for high risk construction work if the requirements of r. 299 can be demonstrated within one or more documents that form part of the safe system of work for the high risk activity.

This SWMS must meet all the requirements of r. 299:

  • details of the high risk construction work activity
  • hazards that are present during these activity
  • how the risks will be controlled

Everyone involved in the work must be able to access the SWMS and also be able to comprehend its contents.

See Safe work method statements for high risk construction work information sheet and template.

What is a construction project?

A construction project is a project that involves construction work where five or more people are, or are likely to be, working at the same time at a construction site. A construction project must have a principal contractor, and there can only be one principal contractor at any time.

The PCBU who commissions the construction project is considered the principal contractor for the project, unless they engage another PCBU as principal contractor and authorise them to have management or control of the workplace.

What is a WHS management plan for a construction project?

A WHS management plan for construction work is a documented plan to manage site health and safety. The contents of this plan must include the:

  • names, positions and WHS responsibilities of all people with WHS roles connected to the project
  • arrangements in place between PCBUs at the workplace for consultation, cooperation and the coordination of activities
  • arrangements in place for managing WHS incidents
  • site-specific health and safety rules, and describe how all people at the workplace will be informed of these rules
  • how SWMS will be collected, assessed, monitored and reviewed.

The WHS management plan can include additional information, such as:

  • hazardous chemicals register and storage
  • safe use and storage of plant
  • site traffic management plans.

The WHS management plan may draw from other aspects of the mine safety management system (MSMS). All people working on a construction project must be made aware of the contents of the WHS management plan and it must be made available for those people to inspect.  

Managing multiple construction projects at a mine

A mine may have multiple construction projects that are run simultaneously, each with a different principal contractor. Each of these construction projects must have its own WHS management plan and these plans should include SWMS for any high risk construction work.

The mine operator and principal contractor(s) at the mine should assess whether there is a single or multiple construction projects, and the work can be considered:

  • a single construction project if the projects will be in the same location and on the same plant/structure, or will share the same appointed person as the principal contractor
  • separate construction projects where projects are clearly separated and have different scopes, with no likelihood of interactions. Each project must have an appointed principal contractor and a separate WHS Management plan and associated SWMS.

The MSMS should accommodate all WHS management plans in relation to construction work at a mine. The mine operator should assess risks and implement appropriate controls to manage the health and safety on the mine when there are one or more construction projects. It is encouraged that all of the WHS management plan(s) are reviewed to ensure consistency with existing elements of the MSMS to avoid inconsistency in controls.

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