A Principal Contractor of a construction project is defined by Work Health & Safety (WHS) legislation.
By default, a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) that commissions a construction project is the Principal Contractor. However, they may appoint another PCBU as a principal contractor at different stages of the project. The appointed principal contractor has management control of the workplace where the construction work will take place.
Each State / Territory has a set monetary value, or “trigger point”, to determine when construction work becomes a “Construction Project”. Western Australia is the exception to this, where the “Main Contractor” is in control of any worksite where 5 or more employees or subcontractors are working.
Value Threshold of Construction Project by State / Territory
|State/Territory||Construction Project Value Threshold|
|Australian Capital Territory||$250k|
|New South Wales||$250k|
Prequalification of Principal Contractors
Principal Contractors have additional WHS legislative duties and have management and control of the worksite.
In 2021, Cm3 introduced a new Risk Review assessment to apply a more critical lens to the evaluation of documents submitted as evidence of a contractor’s capability as Principal Contractor. It also makes sure that only those businesses who genuinely are, or who want to be, Principal Contractors are assessed in this category.
The Principal Contractor assessment covers:
- Formal appointment of a Principal Contractor
- Project risk registers
- Principal contractor WHS plans
- Communication of plan content
- SWMS review
- Compliance with SWMS
- General construction induction
This new Principal Contractor prequalification assessment provides increased confidence for Cm3 clients, knowing that the same standards are expected of all Principal Contractors prequalifying for work with them. Additionally, it gives contractors assurance that they are assessed fairly and in the same way as other Principal Contractors bidding for work. A client may ask a contractor to undertake the Principal Contractor Risk Review if they have not yet formally been appointed or selected as a Principal Contractor. The Risk Review was released after an extensive program of testing with clients and contractors.