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
Northern Territory $500k
Queensland $250k
South Australia $450k
Victoria $350k
Tasmania $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 in this capacity. 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
  • Project risk registers
  • Principal contractor WHS plans
  • Communication of plan content
  • Consultation
  • SWMS review
  • Compliance with SWMS
  • General construction induction

This new Principal Contractor prequalification assessment provides increased confidence for Cm3 clients. It does this by ensuring 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 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.

Additional information for existing contractors can be accessed through the Cm3 Knowledge Base by logging in to the platform. For more information, contact the Cm3 team today.