Chapter 16 Appointment of a principal contractor
The harmonised legislation requires every construction project (with a value of $250,000 or more) to have a principal contractor. The harmonised legislation provides that the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) that commissions the construction project is the principal contractor for that project unless the PCBU:
- engages another person conducting a business or undertaking as principal contractor for the project; and
- authorises the principal contractor to have management or control of the workplace and to discharge its duties.
If this occurs, the person so engaged is the principal contractor for the project.
Where a PCBU engages another person as principal contractor for the project, the PCBU must give the new principal contractor any information they have about hazards and risks in the vicinity of the workplace where the construction work is to be carried out.
There can only be one principal contractor at any time in relation to a construction project.
The owner of the workplace where the construction work is to be carried out is automatically regarded as the principal contractor by the Vic Regulations. Another person may be appointed as principal contractor by the owner, but the owner must authorise that person to manage or control the workplace to the extent necessary to discharge the duties of principal contractor. An owner is not required to appoint a principal contractor in writing, although it is advisable to do so.
There are no limitations specified in the Vic Regulations regarding who may be appointed as a principal contractor. However, for domestic construction work, if an owner engages a person to manage or control the workplace, the owner is automatically deemed to have appointed that person as the principal contractor.
The ‘main contractor’ is not strictly appointed in WA but is determined by the Regulations – see Application of principal contractor provisions earlier in this chapter. In addition to any ‘deemed’ main contractors, under the WA Regulations designers, clients and employers are required to consult with one another to ensure that the construction work can be done without risk to safety and health.
Depending on the nature of the contracting arrangements and the particular circumstances of the project, the main contractor and the client could be the same person. In that case, the client will need to comply with the main contractor and client requirements of the WA Regulations.