Powers of Australian Building and Construction Inspectors

Australian Building and Construction Inspectors are appointed under the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (‘BCIIP Act’). Australian Building and Construction Inspectors have powers to investigate compliance with the BCIIP Act, designated building laws and the Building Code by building industry participants. The powers of Australian Building and Construction Inspectors include the power to enter premises, conduct interviews, inspect documents and seek the production of documents.

Australian Building and Construction Inspectors may investigate matters concerning:

  • the Building Code;
  • wages and entitlements;
  • sham contracting;
  • freedom of association;
  • right of entry requirements;
  • coercion;
  • workplace rights and adverse action;
  • industrial action; and
  • discrimination.

What can their powers be used for?

Australian Building and Construction Inspector may only exercise their powers and functions in relation to a building matter. A building matter is one that involves any of the following:

  • a building employee;
  • a building employer;
  • a building contractor;
  • a person who enters into a contract with a building contractor under which the building contractor agrees to carry out building work or to arrange for building work to be carried out;
  • a building association;
  • an officer, delegate or other representative of a building association.

A person may commit a criminal offence or incur a civil penalty if they obstruct, hinder, intimidate or resist an Australian Building and Construction Inspector in the performance of their functions.

Entering premises

Australian Building and Construction Inspectors may, without force:

  • enter premises, provided they reasonably believe the BCIIP Act, the Building Code, or any other designated building law (such as the FW Act), applies to building work that is being or has been performed on the premises, or a breach of these laws by a building industry participant is occurring or is likely to occur.
  • enter business premises if they reasonably believe that there are records or documents relevant to compliance purposes on the premises (including documents accessible from a computer on the premises), or that a person who normally performs work at the business premises has information relevant to compliance purposes.

Australian Building and Construction Inspectors must before or as soon as practicable after entering premises, show their identity card to the occupier or an appropriate representative if they are at the premises.

While on premises

When an Australian Building and Construction Inspector is on premises they may:

  • inspect any work, process or object;
  • interview anyone (a person can refuse to be interviewed);
  • ask someone to tell them who has custody of, or access to, a record or document;
  • require the person with access to a record or document to hand it over on the spot or within a specific timeframe;
  • inspect and make copies of any record or document kept on the premises (hardcopy or on computer);
  • take samples of any goods or substances in line with the regulations.

Power to ask for a person’s name and address

If an Australian Building and Construction Inspector reasonably believes that a person has contravened certain workplace laws, the Inspector may require a person to tell the inspector their name and address.

When requiring a person to tell them their name and address, the Australian Building and Construction Inspector must:

  • show their identity card; and
  • inform the person that they may contravene certain workplace laws if they fail to comply with the requirement.

If an Australian Building and Construction Inspector reasonably believes that the name or address given is false, they may require the person to give evidence of its correctness. If the person fails to comply with this request and they do not have a reasonable excuse, then the matter may be taken to court and penalties may be imposed.

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Need more information?

For further information, advice or assistance please contact the ABCC at 1800 003 338 or enquiry [at] abcc.gov.au.