What is a principal contractor?

A principal contractor is an entity with legislative responsibility for the management of health and safety for construction work. The procedures for appointment or engagement, and the obligations of principal contractors, differ between the Commonwealth, states and territories. The requirement to appoint or engage a principal contractor can have a major impact on property owners, tenants, developers and contractors.

Principal contractors are governed by different legislation:

Harmonised jurisdictions

Non-harmonised jurisdictions

On 1 January 2012, harmonised work health and safety laws came into effect in the following jurisdictions:

  • Commonwealth;
  • New South Wales;
  • Queensland;
  • Australian Capital Territory; and
  • Northern Territory.

On 1 January 2013, harmonised legislation also came into effect in South Australia and Tasmania.

The Victorian Government and the Western Australian Government have not as yet introduced harmonised legislation.

back to top | next page