Overview of the process to get accredited under the Scheme

The diagram below provides an overview of each step in the process to getting accredited under the Scheme. More detail on each step is provided underneath the diagram.

Flow chart of the application and pre-accreditation stages


Stage 1: Complete application

The first step is to register for an FSC Online account. Applications must be submitted online through 
FSC Online. You will need to provide details about:

  • if you are tendering for projects funded under HAFFF or NHAF; 
  • how your current safety system aligns with the Federal Safety Commissioners (FSC) Audit Criteria; and 
  • information about your company’s operations.

There are no fees or charges to apply for accreditation under the Scheme. There are also no fees or charges to maintain accreditation.

Once your application is submitted, the OFSC will check all required information has been provided and contact you if there are any gaps. The OFSC will then triage the application based on the likely contract date for any building work and allocate a Federal Safety Officer to begin auditing of the WHS management system and practices against the Federal Safety Commissioner’s Audit Criteria. 

You will also receive a request from the OFSC to submit: 

  • a declaration the builder will comply with the National Construction Code (NCC) where applicable to any work it undertakes, and
  • further information about the builder’s previous WHS performance. 

This information must be returned to the OFSC before any recommendation to accredit an applicant can be made to the Federal Safety Commissioner. 

Stage 2: Systems Validation audit

Stage 2: Systems Validation Audit 

Once your application has been processed, we will contact you to arrange a Systems Validation Audit to assess the company’s WHS Management System against the Federal Safety Commissioner Audit Criteria.

The arrangements for the systems validation audit will be negotiated with the company and it may be undertaken virtually or at a company’s premises. The audit is a desktop gap analysis of the company’s WHS Management System against the FSC Audit Criteria.  

Following the systems validation audit, you will be provided with a detailed report describing where the criteria has been met and detailing any gaps that have been identified. The report is usually provided 5-10 business days after the audit.  

The Systems Validation Audit will result in one of the following outcomes; 

  1. The head contractor builder’s documented safety system is assessed as suitable to progress to an on-site accreditation audit; or 
  2. Gaps in the documented safety system are identified such that the head contractor builder does not demonstrate adequate compliance with the FSC Audit Criteria to warrant an onsite accreditation audit. 

In the case of outcome 1 and noting that 100% compliance with all systems validation audit criteria is not required to proceed to an on-site audit, a rolling systems validation audit may be implemented with the view to reducing the number of potential corrective action reports arising from the on-site audit and increasing the likelihood of the applicant achieving accreditation. 

In the case of outcome 2, a rolling systems validation audit will be implemented to assist the head contractor builder to identify and remedy system gaps so they can proceed to the next step in the accreditation process as quickly as possible. 

The Federal Safety Officer who conducted the audit will be available to the applicant to: 

  • debrief applicants about the system gaps that have been reported on in greater detail.
  • answer questions the applicant may have about the gap findings.
  • provide general de-identified examples on what accredited companies have in place to meet Federal Safety Commissioner Audit Criteria.
  • direct applicants to available resources (e.g. industry and regulatory publications, tools etc).
  • review updates made to WHS management systems and processes and confirm whether the updates now meet the Federal Safety Commissioner’s Audit Criteria.

The ongoing support will be arranged between the OFSC, Federal Safety Officer and the head contractor builder. Federal Safety Officers can provide up to 40 hours of support to applicants as outlined above. The 40 hours is the time spent by the Federal Safety Officer to prepare, support the applicant and undertake follow-up administration. It does not include time spent at audits. This support is not a consulting service and Federal Safety Officers are unable to advise on, or draft, WHS management system revisions. 

Stage 3: On-site Accreditation Audit

The On-site Accreditation Audit will be held at a project where the head contractor builder is the Principal Contractor and where its WHS Management System is in place. 

At the On-site Accreditation Audit the Federal Safety Officer’s focus will be to verify the implementation of WHS procedures and practices on-site. 

In the case of the applicants that have received the rolling systems validation audit support (refer above to Stage 2: Systems Validation Audit), the on-site accreditation audit will focus on confirming the on-site implementation of the documented WHS management system. This audit will not re-assess the head contractor builder’s WHS management system in relation to issues already audited and addressed through the systems validation audit and post- systems validation audit rolling analysis referred to above. For any system gaps that remain open following the systems validation audit and post- systems validation audit rolling analysis, the Federal Safety Officer must review both the documented system and the onsite implementation of the processes required to meet the FSC Audit Criteria. 

The on-site accreditation audit will likely review implementation of: 

  • Work Health and Safety Management Systems (WHSMS) criteria;  
  • Focus Point criteria; and 
  • 1-2 x Hazard criteria may be selected from hazard criteria most common to head contractor builders including Mobile Plant, Work at Heights, Electrical, Excavation and Temporary structures (depending on project stage and works occurring).  

Refer to page Scheme criteria guidance explained for head contractor builders

Following the on-site accreditation audit, you will be provided with a detailed report describing where the criteria has been met and detailing any non-conformances. The report is usually provided around 10 business days after the audit. 

The Federal Safety Commissioner makes the final decision on whether to grant accreditation, taking into account the findings of the on-site audit. 

A note on timing 

The Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme (the Scheme) sets a high benchmark and applicants will need a well-documented and implemented safety management system to meet the WHS standards required for accreditation. 

Timeframes for the accreditation process vary from company to company, depending on the head contractor builder’s commitment to the process, and the extent of pre-existing systems compliance with the FSC Audit Criteria. Timeframes for completing the process will be faster where a head contractor builder is prepared for the on-site accreditation audit process, can readily provide an active project for audit, and is committed to timely rectification of any non-conformances identified in initial audit processes. To assist with timing, the Federal Safety Officer assigned to the applicant in stage 1 – Systems Validation Audit will be on hand to provide support to the head contractor builder until they are suitable to progress to Stage 3 On-site Accreditation Audit.

Once Accreditation is granted

A head contractor builder gaining accreditation for the first time will be granted an initial accreditation period of up to three years. At the end of this period, companies need to reapply for accreditation to remain accredited. This is known as ‘reaccreditation’. Companies seeking reaccreditation may be granted an accreditation period of up to six years. It is important to note that once a company is accredited, the requirements under the Scheme apply to ALL projects where the company is the principal contractor, not just Australian Government funded projects.  

On-going Audits

Once accreditation has been granted, accredited head contractor builders are subject to an ongoing,  
on-site audit program. These on-site audits provide the Australian Government and the community with assurance that the construction work being undertaken by accredited head contractor builders is being carried out to the highest of safety standards. Nominated projects must have the company’s WHS Management System in use and have high risk work activity being undertaken at the time of the audit. Construction work must also be occurring on the day of the audit. For more information refer to: Auditing.

On-going Reporting

Accredited companies are required to provide information to the OFSC on their WHS performance. The OFSC requires information from accredited companies at different stages throughout the life of contracts on which they are the head contractor. The requirements vary slightly for Scheme and non-Scheme building projects.  

Accredited companies must submit a Scheme Biannual Report every six months that covers a range of project data and WHS performance indicators (such as workers compensation premium rates and claims incident rates). For more information refer to: Accredited Company Reporting.

Further Assistance

To speak to an OFSC representative please call the OFSC Assist Line 1800 652 500, or email ofsc@dewr.gov.au.