Scheme Review 2014 Documents
Review Report: A review to modernise Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner (OFSC) and the Australian Government Building and Construction WHS Accreditation Scheme (the Scheme)
The key findings from the review were announced by the Australian Government on 22 October 2014.
The review sought streamlining and modernisation options while not reducing the safety standards required for accreditation.
The review was conducted by the Department of Employment, supported by an advisory panel comprising industry, government and union stakeholders.
The Government agreed to implement all 25 of the review’s recommendations. 23 of the recommendations were agreed to in full, with amendments to two:
- Recommendation 4: Domestic Housing - rather than increasing the threshold from five to 10 or more houses as proposed in the Review, the Government decided to exclude the construction of single dwelling residential projects from coverage under the Scheme.
- Recommendation 12: Reaccreditation – rather than ongoing accreditation (subject to continued compliance) as proposed in the Review, the Government decided to retain a limit on the accreditation period. The accreditation period will be increased up to 6 years for strong performing companies, rather than the current 3 year period.
The key improvements to the Scheme include:
Increasing financial thresholds
- The Scheme’s financial thresholds (the value of projects at which use of accredited builders becomes a requirement) will be increased both for the head contract value and the level of Commonwealth funding at which the Scheme requirements are triggered.
- Directly funded projects: the value of head contracts for building work will increase from $3 million to $4 million.
- Indirectly funded projects: the value of head contracts for building work will increase from $3 million to $4 million. In addition, the threshold at which the Commonwealth contribution of funding requires the use of an accredited builder will increase from $5 million to $6 million, with the current $10 million threshold remaining unchanged. All increases have been made to reflect price movements since 2007.
- The Scheme will no longer apply to the relatively small number of Commonwealth-funded projects involving the construction of single-dwelling houses (nor alteration, extension or refurbishment). Multi–unit residential projects (such as the construction, alteration, extension or refurbishment of attached or semi-attached dwellings, townhouses, duplexes and apartments) that are above the financial thresholds will continue to be covered.
Removing the prerequisite for AS/NZS 4801:2001
- Building and construction companies seeking (or maintaining) accreditation under the Scheme will no longer need certification to Australian Standard AS4801 (or equivalent). The Scheme’s criteria and auditing are far more extensive.
Unaccredited builders can undertake Scheme projects through a joint venture arrangement
- Unaccredited builders will be able to undertake Commonwealth-funded building work as a head contractor so long as they are in a joint venture with an accredited company and operate under the partner’s Scheme accredited systems. This arrangement was previously only available to international companies. The accredited partner will risk losing their accreditation if the unaccredited partner fails to adhere to the Scheme’s requirements.
Extending maximum period of accreditation
- Companies seeking accreditation for the first time will be granted an initial accreditation period of 3 years. Following this initial period, companies seeking re-accreditation, may be granted an accreditation period of up to 6 years (but only for companies with a strong compliance record). Existing accreditation periods cannot be extended.
- The reaccreditation process will be streamlined and the paperwork significantly reduced particularly for companies with a strong compliance record.
A targeted, risk-based compliance model
- A new risk-based compliance model will be introduced to better target audit resources to companies with a higher risk of non-compliance. All companies can expect more regular site audits, but the compliance burden will be reduced for companies which consistently demonstrate high performance in complying with the Scheme over time.
Streamlined application processes and improved guidance material
- A range of changes will be made to how the Scheme is administered by the Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner (OFSC). These include clearer guidance material to assist companies to become accredited and how to better prepare for the audit process. An on-line portal and on-line application process is expected by around April 2015. This will include assistance on how to complete the application. The OFSC also proposes to enhance its education and communications material to better disseminate information about best practice safety standards across the building industry.
Increased recognition of Scheme accreditation by states and territories
- During 2015, it is anticipated that Scheme accreditation will automatically meet the work health and safety application requirements of all state and territory prequalification schemes for their civil and commercial construction projects.
- A number of the improvements to the Scheme will assist international as well as domestic firms in the accreditation process and subsequent compliance approach.
- The Government has agreed that any opportunities to further increase access for international companies should be investigated, but that competitive neutrality for domestic building companies will be maintained.
Australian Government agencies
- Agencies will be required to provide advance notice of upcoming tenders, commencement of Scheme tender processes and ensure adherence to Scheme requirements. This will also allow the OFSC to better target its educational and communication resources to areas where high volume of Commonwealth-funded building and construction work is expected to occur.
The OFSC has prepared some Frequently Asked Question to assist you with understanding the improvements to the Scheme.