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Construction Work

Information adapted from Safe Work Australia material.

‘Construction work’ in the context of work health and safety can be defined in a number of ways depending on the tasks undertaken. These include but may not be limited to construction ‘projects’ and ‘high risk’ construction work. For information on these please refer to the construction work code of practice in the resources section. The Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 define construction work as 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.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 defines a structure as anything that is constructed, whether fixed or moveable, temporary or permanent including any component and part of a structure. This further includes buildings, masts, towers, framework, pipelines, transport infrastructure and underground works (shafts or tunnels), noise reduction barriers on a freeway, communications masts or towers, electricity transmission towers and associated cables, flying cables and supports as well as guyed towers such as a ski-lift tower.

Examples of a structure additionally include:

  • a roadway or pathway, a ship or submarine, foundations, earth retention works and other earthworks including river works and sea defence works, formwork, falsework or any other structure designed or used to provide support, access or containment during construction work such as a prop or formwork system
  • an airfield
  • a dock, harbour, channel, bridge, viaduct, lagoon or dam, a sewer or sewerage or drainage works such as storm water drains, sheet piling to divert the course of a river or to build a cofferdam, underground storage tanks for an irrigation system, road tunnels, ventilation or access shaft for underground services


Risks in the construction industry  include but aren’t limited to;

  • injury from falling objects such as debris and equipment, collapse of trenches
  • injury from handling, use, storage, and transport or disposal of hazardous chemicals
  • injuries associated with the presence of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials
  • injuries from welding fumes, gases and arcs, interface with other works or trade activities, electric shock, immersion or engulfment, fire or explosion, slips, trips and falls, being struck by moving plant, exposure to noise, heat, cold, vibration, radiation, static electricity or a contaminated atmosphere


A targeted risk management process following an approved code of practice in conjunction with legal consultation to best align the nature of construction work with regulatory obligations is the best method of ensuring risks and hazards are managed properly. Numerous activities using a combination of risk and hazard control measures must be considered.


Information SourceContents
Code of Practice - Construction WorkThis code provides practical guidance for persons who have duties managing risks involving construction
Code of Practice - Preventing falls in housing constructionThis code provides practical guidance for persons who have duties managing risks of falls in housing construction
Safe Work Australia - National Code of Practice for Precast Tilt-Up and Concrete Elements in Building ConstructionThe National Code provides practical guidance for employers and employees on ways to effectively manage the risks associated with using tilt-up and precast concrete elements in building construction. Please note this is voluntary guidance only and not a legislative instrument.
Code of Practice - How to Manage Work Health and Safety RisksThis code provides practical guidance for persons who have duties under the WHS Act and Regulations to manage risks to health and safety
Code of Practice - Demolition WorkCode of Practice specifically for addressing risks involving demolition work
Code of Practice – Excavation WorkThis Code provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage the health and safety risks associated with excavation work.
Code of Practice- Managing Risks of Plant in the WorkplaceThis Code provides practical guidance on how to manage health and safety risks of plant once it is in the workplace, from plant installation, commissioning and use through to decommissioning and dismantling.


Information sourceWhat it contains
Incident notification - Part 3, Section 35 to 37 of the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011The legislative requirements for incident notification to Comcare
Comcare - Guide to incident notificationHelps you decide whether you need to notify Comcare of an injury, illness or dangerous incident under the WHS Act
Page last updated: 10 May 2019