Important improvements to the Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner and the Australian Government Building and Construction WHS Accreditation Scheme announced

The Australian Government today announced improvements to modernise and streamline the Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner (OFSC) and the Australian Government Building and Construction WHS Accreditation Scheme (Scheme). These improvements follow a major review undertaken by the Department of Employment earlier this year. The improvements will commence from 1 January 2015.

The Government leverages its purchasing power to ensure that only builders that meet the Scheme’s high safety standards are able to contract for Commonwealth funded building and construction projects.

The review was informed by an advisory panel of key industry, government and union stakeholders and received submissions from a range of interested parties, including industry organisations, accredited companies and work health and safety professionals.

The improvements to the Scheme strike a balance between reducing barriers to entry while maintaining the best practice safety standards required from accredited companies. Key improvements include raising the financial thresholds for projects to which the Scheme applies to reflect price movements in the industry. The small number of Commonwealth funded projects involving the construction or refurbishment of single-dwelling houses will no longer be covered by the Scheme. AS/NZS 4801:2001 accreditation will no longer be a pre-requisite – the review found this to be a costly and time consuming barrier for smaller companies which added no value as the Scheme’s requirements are far more extensive. Unaccredited builders will also be able to work in a joint venture arrangement with accredited builders.

A new risk-based compliance model will be introduced that will allow re-accreditation to extend for up to six years for strong performing companies. Companies seeking accreditation for the first time will still be granted an initial accreditation period of 3 years. Poor performance during that period may still result in suspension or termination of accreditation. All companies will have more regular on-site audits. Better targeting of audit resources and support to higher risk companies will further improve safety outcomes under the Scheme.

For further information view the Review Report or read our Summary of Improvements or FAQs