An owner builder course student recently asked me whether the ‘free’ Workplace Health and Safety Management Plan offered by one of our competitors represented value.
Answer is simply YES, any resource that promotes safety in the workplace adds value and should be embraced.
We have always been of the opinion that any safety resource should be free and should be readily available to our owner builder students at no cost where possible.
That question got me thinking about the Safety Management System (which includes a WHS Management Plan) that we make available to our owner builder students, and whether or not it needed to be revised and updated to include the latest thinking in respect to site safety and the management of the workplace.
First question I asked myself was;
What makes our safety resources better than those of our competitor?
What can we do to make it even better?
Fact is, Safework Australia makes available, free on its website a WHS Management Plan that is set up to help contractors and Persons Conducting a Business Undertaking (PCBU) maintain compliance in respect to work health and safety on their construction sites.
This resource is a great resource and is supported by text and information including worked examples that help anyone develop a compliant document.
So, what is the value in Abacus Training developing its own WHS Safety Template to offer to our owner builder students?
I think the answer lies largely in the fact that our system is presented in a way that is consistent with the way we provide all other resources and learning materials.
In saying that, I mean we want you to have ‘ownership’ in your learning. We want each of our owner builder students to have developed the skills to identify and apply the components of the Abacus Training Owner Builder Safety Management System, to meet the individual and specific needs of their project.
I have witnessed the production of many Operations Manuals for companies to simply meet compliance requirements or to satisfy provisions in a tender to demonstrate operations under a Quality Management System.
Nine times out of ten, if I questioned the accountable manager as to the contents of their Operations Manual I would get the same answer;
“No idea, we had a Consultant come in and produce it for us (at huge cost to the company), now it just sits on the shelf.”
To me, this is just not good enough, if you are responsible for a Project, you need to understand how to use the tools available to help you manage the project in the best way possible. This will result in a safe and efficient work site, one that you can truly take pride in.
That is why we have structured the Owner Builder Safety Management System the way we have.
It starts with the information you need to consider in your role as an owner builder in respect to work health and safety on your site.
It then provides tools, guidance and a simple format which will direct you to establish an appropriate WHS Management Plan for your project.
As an Owner Builder, it is important to remember the following:
- If your project value exceeds $250,000.00, you must by law produce a WHS Management Plan for your owner builder project. This is due to the fact that a project of this value becomes classified as a Construction Project under the definitions of the relevant legislation (Regulation 209)
- Under WHS legislation, each Construction Project requires a ‘Principal Contractor’ as the owner builder you are the Person Conducting a Business Undertaking (PCBU) and as such deemed to be the Principal Contractor in respect to responsibilities for the workplace.
In addition to the above, I encourage each of our owner builders to visit the Safework Australia website and download any of the Model Codes of Practice that are relevant to your site and the range of activities or tasks to be completed.
Work through our Safety Management System to identify potential hazards on your owner builder site and to develop the processes and documentation to manage the safety of your project.
Develop strategies that will ensure you communicate the site specific dangers to all contractors and visitors to your site and have an effective process for collecting and reviewing Safe Work Method Statements for all contractors conducting High Risk Activities on your owner builder project.
Even if your owner builder project has a value less than $250,000.00 you are still responsible under WHS legislation for the safe operation and conduct of the site. Make certain you fulfil all your obligations in this area and do not take safety lightly.
Unfortunately, there have been many deaths on owner builder sites in recent years. The number is considered disproportionally large when consider against similar construction projects run by registered building companies. This has resulted in a focus on owner builder project safety by the relevant regulators.
As always, be prepared, be informed and remain disciplined in your overall approach to your owner builder project and always be vigilant in respect to the hazards and associated risks that exist on your site.
If in doubt seek professional or experiences advice.