27 November 2015 Industry Update

New drug & alcohol amendments to the Building Code


Changes to the Building Code 2013 (Building Code) mean that drug and alcohol testing is now mandatory on most Federal Government funded projects. The new drug and alcohol testing requirements apply to many current and future construction projects. FWBC is responsible for monitoring compliance with these changes, which came into effect on 16 October, 2015. 

Projects must undertake mandatory testing if the Commonwealth provides more than $5 million in funding and the Commonwealth contribution represents at least 50% of the total project value. Projects where Commonwealth funding exceeds $10 million must also comply, regardless of total project value.

Under the changes to the Building Code, head contractors must have a comprehensive fitness for work policy which includes mandatory testing and a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol.

As a minimum, random testing must occur at least once per month of those on site undertaking building work, including both construction and relevant site office workers.  The random testing should be conducted on:

  • 10% of the workforce per month for sites with less than 30 workers
  • a minimum of 5 workers per month if there are 30-100 workers on site
  • a minimum of 10 workers per month if there are greater than 100 workers on site

The policy must also outline procedures for targeted testing of higher risk activities, voluntary testing and for-cause testing.

Whilst the new testing is not mandatory on private sites, contractors covered by the Building Code must now reflect the management of drugs and alcohol in their WHS&R management system on all projects.

This will help to ensure that no person attending the site to perform building work does so under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Companies or subcontractors found to be in serious breach of the Building Code can be sanctioned, which may mean being banned from working on Government funded projects. 

Since the new requirements were announced by Government in September 2015, FWBC has been educating building industry participants on the requirements. From December 2015, FWBC will review policies and seek rectification measures where non-compliance is found. To give contractors adequate time to put in place Code compliance arrangements, FWBC will not commence a comprehensive audit program on drug and alcohol measures until 1 February 2016. 

For more information, visit FWBC’s website at www.fwbc.gov.au/building-code or call FWBC’s Hotline on 1800 003 338. Your call can be anonymous.

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