Frequently asked questions for builders

What is the Scheme


The Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme (the Scheme) operates such that, subject to certain thresholds, only head contractors who are accredited under the Scheme can enter into contracts for building work that is funded directly or indirectly by the Australian Government.

The Scheme enables the government to use its influence as a client and provider of capital to improve the construction industry’s WHS performance. The Australian Government promotes work performed safely as well as on budget and on time.

How will I know if I need to be accredited for a project?


Notification that a project requires an accredited builder should appear in the tender documentation. If this is not clear, contact the client, Government Agency or OFSC to check if the project is covered by the Scheme.

What is the process for gaining accreditation?


All companies are required to submit an application as the first stage in the accreditation process. The application form requires company information, project details of sites where the company is the head contractor and a system map of where the company’s system meets the requirements of each audit criterion.

A company will progress to the audit stage once a complete application is received and a suitable site is available for audit. Applications from companies in a tender for a Scheme project will be prioritised where possible.

The OFSC selects the site for audit based on the details provided in the application and liaises with companies to determine an audit date. The sites provided must be sites where the company’s WHS Management System is being implemented. Onsite audits are detailed audits conducted by a Federal Safety Officer (FSO) usually over two days using the OFSC Audit Criterion.

It is important to note that more than one audit is often required to gain accreditation. Where a follow up audit is required, the process for booking the audit is again done in consultation with the company, and the content of the follow up audit is generally limited to review of any identified non-conformances.

Once you have successfully completed the audit process, the results are presented to the FSC. The FSC will take into account all information relating to your application and the onsite audit results before making a decision to grant accreditation. It is the sole discretion of the FSC to grant accreditation, and your company will be advised in writing of the FSC’s decision.

On acceptance of accreditation, you will be placed on the Accreditation Register and you will receive a Certificate of Accreditation.

What are the Scheme criteria?


Applicants will be assessed for accreditation by the FSC and will need to satisfy the following criteria:

  • demonstrated senior management commitment to WHS
  • integration of safe design principles into the risk management process
  • whole-of-project WHS consultation and communication
  • demonstrated effective subcontractor WHS management arrangements across building and construction projects
  • whole-of-project performance measurement
  • WHS training and competency to deal with safety risks
  • demonstrated ability to deal with construction hazards and high risk activities based on works being undertaken on site
  • past performance in relation to workplace safety and
  • evidence of an effective WHS management system (WHSMS).

How long will it take to achieve accreditation?


This will depend on the maturity and effectiveness of your company’s WHSMS. For example, accredited contractors with newly implemented WHSMS will need to demonstrate effective onsite implementation and ownership.

The time taken to process an application will also depend on the content of your application, how clearly laid out it is, whether the supporting documentation is satisfactory, your past performance history and your performance at audit.

The process time will be extended if you have not provided sufficient information or documentary evidence and/or if more than one onsite audit is required.

How can I get my application prioritised?


The OFSC will prioritise applications for accreditation under the Scheme if advised by an Australian Government agency that an applicant is in contention for a building and construction project to which the Scheme applies.

Priority applications are still subject to the same standards as other applicants and will need to meet all scheme requirements. There is no guarantee that a prioritised application will gain FSC approval within the necessary time frame. As such we encourage accredited contractors to apply for accreditation as early as possible.

Does it cost anything to apply for accreditation?


The Scheme is funded by the Australian Government and administered by the OFSC. There is no fee payable to lodge an application or costs on achieving accreditation.

How long does accreditation last?


Companies achieving accreditation for the first time will be granted an initial accreditation period of 3 years. At the end of this period, to maintain accreditation under the Scheme, accredited contractors must reapply for accreditation. This is known as ‘reaccreditation’. Companies seeking re-accreditation may be granted an accreditation period of up to 6 years.

What are the main factors that delay accreditation?


Accredited contractors should be aware of factors that may slow the accreditation process. These include:

  • insufficient or incomplete information and evidence provided at the application assessment stage
  • not fully implementing the WHS systems on all the company’s sites
  • not having a suitable site for audit
  • WHS management systems which are not properly implemented on site will be issued with corrective actions
  • evidence submitted by the company in response to corrective actions does not satisfactorily address the issues identified.

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