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Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), a contractor is a worker and is owed duties by the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). Where PCBUs engage contractors to perform work, effective contractor procurement and management is essential to make sure WHS duties both to the contractors as workers, and third parties, are met.
Integrating health and safety requirements into contractor procurement and management prevents injury and helps fulfill health and safety obligations. PCBUs must ensure the health and safety of all workers at work in the business or undertaking:
- who are engaged or are caused to be engaged by the PCBU
- whose activities in carrying out work are influenced or directed by the PCBU.
Contractors also have a duty as workers under the WHS Act. While at work, a contractor must take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety and take reasonable care that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of others.
What do I need to consider?
- Procurement of contractor services. When engaging a contractor to carry out services, the PCBU must consider the different hazards and risks to health and safety in each stage of the procurement process.
- Consultation and representation of WHS issues. As contractors now fall under the definition of workers under the WHS Act, a PCBU has an obligation to consult with workers on WHS issues to minimise the risk to health and safety.
- Engagement of contractors overseas. PCBUs with international workers have the same obligations and duties as if the worker was carrying out the work in Australia.
For more detail see your agency's procurement procedures.
This fact sheet helps a PCBU understand the WHS Act in relation to contractors.
This guidance provides general information about the duties owed to you and by you as a contractor or subcontractor under the WHS Act.
Comcare Education Team
Comcare can provide training and guidance in relation to contractor management.
The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) has released a best practice guide addressing safety issues related to electrical contractor safety. Comcare accepted an enforceable undertaking (EU) with Austrade following an incident where a contractor suffered an electrical shock. Under the EU, Austrade engaged in an Electrical Contractor Safety Program which included a review of its WHS Management System and the development of this guide.
The guide was developed to provide a consistent approach for the procurement of electrical services.