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Legal responsibilities for engineers of Temporary Works

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This is a very interesting question. Under the WHS (or OHS in some states) act, designers should design structures in a manner that ‘ensures, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking’. Furthermore, the designer must ensure that structures are designed to be safe when used as a workplace during its lifecycle.  The designer has to provide information to anyone issued with the design. It has to clearly state the purpose of the design, such as load constraints. It has to highlight the results of any calculation, testing or analysis and all conditions necessary for the safe use. In other words, all this means that they are liable for ensuring what they design is not going to cause harm to people.

The other part of your question relates to execution on site I assume. When the design is certified and handed over to the contractor or subcontractor, they are also obliged by the WHS (or OHS) act not to create an unsafe work environment. For example, suppose they alter a temporary works element or do not get them designed (unless it is not proprietary product with specified installation for the intended use). The TW element fails and causes harm to people on site or the wider public. In that case, they might be in breach of their primary duty of care if something goes wrong, especially if they do not ask the designer whether the proposed changes are acceptable and explain the proposed changes.

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