Work Health and Safety

Master Builders Australia strongly supports the principle that all businesses and all workers have a basic duty of care to safeguard their own and others health and safety.

Master Builders' WHS policies have been formulated to achieve two main objectives:

  • improved building and construction industry WHS performance,
  • national, consistent WHS arrangements in the establishment of an appropriate regulatory framework.

The building and construction industry has seen a reduction in serious incidents and fatalities in line with the targets of the National Occupational Health and Safety Strategy 2002 – 2012. 


In July 2009 Master Builders released its national policy for the management, control and removal of asbestos.

 Asbestos Contamination of Land – Reporting Obligations of Building Contractors (Third edition) (27 February 2014)

An earlier version of this paper was published in September 2010 which examined the interaction of reporting requirements for dangerous or contaminated material in the ABIC Major Works contract (by way of example of treatment under standard form building contracts) with statutory reporting requirements in State and Territory contaminated site legislation. In particular, the paper considered the question of whether contractors have obligations under State and Territory contaminated land legislation to report the discovery of asbestos in soil at a construction site.

 The Fair Work Commission’s Anti-Bullying Jurisdiction (21 August 2013)

The Fair Work Amendment Act, 2013 (Cth) (Amendment Act) will fundamentally change Australia’s workplace relations system.  From 1 January 2014, a new remedy against bullying will be available to Australian workers.  Workers who reasonably believe they have been bullied at work will be given the right to apply directly to the Fair Work Commission for an order that the bullying stop.

Prevention or punishment - Industrial Manslaughter and the Model OH&S legislation (25 October 2010)

This paper examines corporate manslaughter legislation introduced in the UK in 2007 and considers its relationship to OHS duties of care and to industrial manslaughter offences in the Australian Capital Territory. The paper also sets out Master Builders’ policy on industrial manslaughter. The paper concludes that the Model Work Health and Safety Bill, which will establish the harmonised OHS framework in Australia, will provide an appropriate framework for dealing with workplace deaths and that industrial manslaughter provisions are unwarranted.

Australian Consumer Law - Mandatory reporting of death or serious injury or illness caused by consumer goods (14 December 2010)

This paper outlines the reporting obligations under the Australian Consumer Law, which comes into effect on 1 January 2011, considers their application to builders and the relationship between these obligations and the notifiable incident obligations in the Model Work Health and Safety Act.

Losing Control? The impact of the primary duty of care (12 August 2011)

Master Builders’ research paper Losing control? The impact of the primary duty of care examines the primary duty of care in the harmonised OHS legislation and how it is likely to apply. The paper concludes that concerns that principal contractors will be held responsible for every aspect of work on a construction site are partly misplaced because the notion of control will be relevant when considering what is reasonably practicable for a duty holder to do. Control is also used in the legislation to apportion responsibility for meeting duties of care between duty holders.

Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination - How can principal contractors and subcontractors comply? (11 October 2011) 

This paper considers the obligation in the model for duty holders to consult, coordinate and cooperate with other duty holders who have a duty in relation to the same matter. The paper considers the implications of this duty for the construction industry, in particular for principal contractors and subcontractors. The paper does not address the duty to consult with workers.

OH&S Performance in the Construction Industry (11 October 2011)

The building and construction industry’s OH&S performance remains a matter of concern to all industry participants. However, the industry has responded to the various pressures for improved occupational health and safety management, and according to the data analysed here, OH&S performance is improving.

Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS)

It is a requirement of Regulation 299 of the model Work Health and Safety Regulations that a safe work method statement (SWMS) is required for high risk construction work. The primary purpose of a SWMS is to enable supervisors, workers and any other persons at the workplace to understand the requirements that have been established to carry out the high risk construction work in a safe and healthy manner. It sets out the work activities in a logical sequence and identifies hazards and describes control measures. For more information, contact your local Master Builders Association.

Helpful websites

Safe Work Australia

Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner