The Model Code of Practice: Construction Work. Monitoring Contractor SWMS. What Does It Really Mean?

The Model CoP states that a Principal Contractor must “monitor” a contractors SWMS. When considered in the context of the legal position adopted over the last 100 years by the High Court and all Australian superior Courts it cannot mean that a PC is responsible for monitoring implementation or compliance of contractors with their own SWMS. Confusingly the CoP goes to say that the PCBU undertaking the HRC work is best placed to monitor compliance . A colleague has very succinctly summarised in my view the obligations detailed in the CoP of PC’s in respect of the oversight of contractor SWMS.
The requirement to ‘monitor the implementation of SWMS means to monitor (not supervise) for controls aligning with site arrangements that apply to all PCBUs and which do not conflict with other safety arrangements on site. Monitor, does not mean the PC ensures all work is conducted in accordance with the contractors SWMS. Contractors have their own duty to ensure work is conducted in compliance with their SWMS and a PC cannot not be expected to be an expert in all work performed by subcontractors.