Topics explained – Residential building site induction

Residential building sites

Residential building sites may not be overly complex when compared to major construction sites but they still present their own hazards and risks. In residential building work, many of the tasks and potential risks are similar from site-to-site.

With the workforce consisting of a large number of individual contractors, particular care needs to be taken to ensure that where there are unusual hazards or risks associated with the site (eg location of underground services, site access issues, steep block issues), people undertaking construction work are adequately informed of these hazards and risks, and the measures that are in place to control them.

Site-specific induction

Site inductions vary between construction sectors. The detail required in the site induction will vary depending on the complexity of the project and factors such as the size of the site, the number and variety of trades working on the site, and how much the site is expected to change as work progresses.

For construction projects, the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Management Plan should detail how inductions are carried out. The WHS Management Plan should cover:

  • site hazards
  • control measures
  • safety rules
  • other information specific to the site.

Site specific induction is not compulsory for workplaces where residential building work is being carried out. However, where a site specific induction is not given, it is important to communicate the contents of the WHS management plan or site safety plan. In some cases, it may be appropriate to provide the site safety management information by other means such as phone or email.

Induction training

There may be some situations where varying levels of induction training are needed. For example, a person at a construction site may need general induction, site induction or no induction training, depending on the nature and extent of the following:

  • the expected level of risk at the site or for the particular task, and
  • the level of supervision.

The PCBU must determine and provide relevant workplace specific training.

Subcontractors can provide this training to the workers they employ or engage, and do this on behalf of the principal contractor or builder following appropriate consultation.

The principal contractor or builder should discuss with subcontractors the site conditions and specific work health and safety issues to be used for this training and then verify that the training has been provided.

Induction training is not required for visitors to construction sites if accompanied by a person who has received WHS induction training. Induction training is also not required for people temporarily at a construction site to deliver plant, supplies, materials or services where a risk assessment indicates that any risks to persons can be controlled through other measures (such as implementing visitor management plans, restricted access to low-risk areas, visitor sign-in/out procedures, etc).


Before starting excavation work the builder obtained current underground essential services information for the site. This was provided to all subcontractors who will carry out excavation work, such as foundations, plumbing, electrical, landscaping and fencing subcontractors. When on site, the builder checks that the subcontractors and their workers are aware of and understand the information and control measures. Any deficiencies found are addressed prior to any excavation work commencing.

Construction work – Code of Practice, Safe Work Australia

Government inspectors

Site-specific induction is not required for Government inspectors fulfilling statutory functions at residential building sites.

Government inspectors do not carry out construction work and their work typically involves inspection only. This does not remove their obligation to carry out their work safely.

Government inspectors should take reasonable steps to inform the builder of their attendance.

Essential service providers

In some cases, the residential builder does not have control over which essential service contractor works on their site or when the work is going to be undertaken. For this reason the essential service provider should consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with the builder in regards to:

  • work scheduling
  • contents of the site safety plan or WHS management plan
  • obtaining information on any unusual hazards or risks associated with the site
  • where high risk construction work has been identified in connection with a construction project, ensure that a copy of the safe work method statement for the work is given to the builder before the work commences.

The essential service provider should then pass this information on to their workers.