The Built Environment

Built environments are typically used to describe the interdisciplinary field that addresses the design, construction, management, and use of these human-made surroundings as an interrelated whole, as well as their relationship to human activities over time.

The safety of the built environment is not only improved with good planning, but also with correct materials selection and the early design integration of safety systems to best meet the risk profile of the structure or space.

The term built environment refers to the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging in scale from buildings and parks to green space to neighbourhoods and include their supporting infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and water supply.

By definition, this area is a primary focus for Working at Height and Confined Space applications, with not only the construction being an exposure site, but the requirement for ongoing maintenance and repairs relying upon appropriate safety systems and processes.

The Built Environment covers several industry sectors including residential, commercial, industrial, civil and other construction services.  

Examples of applications within this segment may include:  

  • construction of buildings and other structures 
  • additions, alterations, reconstruction and installation 
  • maintenance and repairs of buildings and other structure 
  • demolition, wrecking or clearing of buildings and other structures 
  • blasting and test drilling 
  • landfill, levelling, earthmoving and excavating, and 
  • land drainage and other land preparation.
  • Transport infrastructure and earthworks
  • Public utilities eg water supply/waste-water management

Under the SafeWork Australia model WHS laws, the responsibility for safety applies to any person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) which includes employers, but also others who engage workers. For more information about who is a PCBU see the SafeWork Australia Interpretive Guideline – model Work Health and Safety Act – the meaning of ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’.

The current model WHS laws have been implemented in all jurisdictions except Victoria and Western Australia (please refer to State Legislation and Regulations for further details).

Safe Work Australia does not regulate or enforce WHS laws or the recently introduced COVID-19 restrictions on business operations. If you want to know how WHS laws apply to you or need help with what to do at your workplace, contact the WHS regulator in your jurisdiction. If you want to know what restrictions on business operations apply to you or your workplace, go to your relevant state and territory government website for information.