Construction site management

Things you need to consider when managing a construction site.

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Pollution and environmental hazards

Managing pollution and environmental hazards on building sites starts prior to work with a number of different plans required to be submitted to Council as part of the development consent process. What is required is dependent on the scale and type of development, but in general will include a Statement of Environmental Effects and a Soil and Erosion Report. Pollution management continues throughout construction with a number of measures needed to be undertaken to prevent pollution.

These are:

  • Restrict vehicle access to one stable entry and exit point. Vehicles should not track soil onto the road. Minimise on-site vehicle activity during wet weather or when the site is muddy
  • Preserve grassed areas and retain the maximum cover of natural vegetation by minimising the amount of land disturbed by shaping. Mulch or revegetate disturbed areas as soon as possible
  • Ensure that stockpiles of sand, gravel, soil and similar materials are located so that material:
    • Does not spill onto the road or pavement
    • Is not placed in drainage lines, depressions or watercourses and
    • Cannot be washed into roadways, drainage lines, depressions or watercourses
  • Remove accidental spills of soil or other materials on the roadway or gutter prior to completion of the day's work. Sweep down the road and footpath every day and collect the sediment. DO NOT use a hose
  • Excess materials and water from cleaning tools and equipment should not be washed down stormwater drains
  • Install sediment fences along the lower side of the site to catch sediment. Fences should be laid along the contour as much as possible, and should consist of a suitable geo-textile fabric supported every three metres (max.) with the lower edge trenched to a depth of 150 mm. Several fences in parallel may be required if there is a large volume of water
  • Check your erosion and sediment controls every day, and repair them when necessary. To make sure the controls work, remove any trapped sediment and either reuse it onsite or dispose of it as waste. Whenever possible, observe how the site controls perform during rain to see how well they work

Who is responsible?

The owner and the builder are responsible for controlling soil erosion and preventing sediment from the site being washed into stormwater drains. Under section 120 of the NSW Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 heavy fines, including on-the-spot fines ($750 for individuals and $1500 for corporations), may be imposed if a person allows soil, earth, mud, clay, concrete washings or similar material to be washed, or placed in a position from where it is likely to be washed into drains. The Council and the Environment Protection Authority can also issue clean-up notices, as well as penalties on building and construction sites.

Safety onsite

There are many measures and laws that are in place to provide safety for workers and visitors to building sites. In NSW new work health and safety laws replaced the occupational health and safety laws on the 1st January 2012.

All workers should have appropriate licences and insurances. While the responsibility for safe procedures lies with the principal contractor, who generally speaking will be your builder, you may want to talk with your lawyer before signing your builder’s contract, to make sure you understand all the detail of work site responsibility. If you are an owner-builder then there is a different level of risk as you will be the principal contractor. 

The Council and the Environment Protection Authority can issue notices and penalties on building and construction sites

A principal contractor with management or control of a workplace must:

Principal contractor

Principal contractor is a person conducting a business or undertaking that commissions a construction project. A construction project can only have one principal contractor at any specific time.

Some construction sites require an OHS site management plan

An OHS management plan is required when construction work is undertaken and the cost of the work exceeds $250,000 (clause 226 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001). The principal contractor must ensure that an OHS management plan is prepared for each site where the value of the work exceeds $250,000 before construction commences. For more information go to WorkCover NSW.

Dial before you dig

Dial before you dig is a referral service for information on locating underground utilities anywhere in Australia.  Excavators, electricians, plumbers, planners, developers, farmers, land surveyors, builders, contractors, home owners and landscapers use this referral service. No matter the size of your project - you may be doing landscaping in your backyard or heavy work such as directional boring or directional drilling - if you tell the referral service where you plan to dig, they pass that information on to the underground utility owners who will respond directly to you with the cable and pipe location information. For more information call 1100.

Construction damage to public and private land and infrastructure

Bega Valley Shire Council may require you to submit a damage deposit prior to building offset any damage to Council infrastructure such as footpaths and kerbsides and roads during construction. For more information call Council on 02 6499 2222.

Compliance with work hours and neighbourhood disturbance is kept to a minimum

Avoiding a neighbourhood dispute can be as simple as ensuring workers

  • Work within the permissible hours of work
  • Use proper site toilets
  • Refrain from swearing
  • Limit noise
  • Park their vehicles legally,
  • Keep the site clean

Standard construction hours are 7am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am – 5pm Saturdays.  No work on Sundays or Public Holidays.

Works must be conducted in a manner so as not to cause a nuisance (by the generation of unreasonable noise or other activity) to the owners and/or residents of adjoining and adjacent properties. Variations to these hours or days may be approved by Council on a case by case basis.

Links and further information


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