A couple of months ago, we posted about starting your own tradie business. While it was very well received, we also recognise that there might be some readers who might be thinking about entering the trade.
In this article, we will be covering everything you need to know about the very first step you need to take when you decide to work in construction.
Workplace safety is of paramount importance in Australia, particularly within the construction industry. By its very nature, there is a high risk of injury due to unavoidable accidents or carelessness.
Working as a tradie means you’ll need to complete some training and certification before even setting foot on a construction site.
Whether you’re a supervisor, manager, or tradie, you’ll need to have a white card just to set foot on a construction site.
Having a white card is a crucial aspect of your journey as a tradie- it’s one of the first things you need to do when you’re starting out.
Previously, this certification was done separately in each state, categorised by blue, red or green cards.
In 2011, the certification was all standardised throughout Australia. The white card replaced the coloured cards, allowing tradies to work across state borders.
So, What Is A White Card?
A white card is proof that you’ve gone through basic training that covers health and safety, common site hazards, and mitigating site-related risks.
Known as the “Prepare to Work Safely in the Construction Industry” training course, it serves to cover the basics so you can enter a construction site.
Having a white card is a legal requirement in Australia, and has been nationally recognised since 2011 when the certification was standardised throughout Australia. The white card replaced the coloured cards, allowing tradies to work interstate with ease.
How Do You Get A White Card?
Anyone who works on or visits a construction site needs to have a white card.
This doesn’t only mean workers and managers, but visitors, apprentices, and even students on work experience.
The minimum age to obtain a white card is 14 years, although it does require 100 points of ID, so this is something to keep in mind when applying to take the course.
Once you have your white card, you don’t need to renew it, unless you stop working within the industry for 2 years or more, in which case, you will need to retake the test.
It’s important to note that the certificate you receive is only valid for 2 months, so you will need to ensure you receive your card to continue working on a site. However, most people receive their cards within 30 days.
Where Can You Get A White Card?
You will have to attend a Registered Training Organisation to take the course, and there are many RTOs around Australia.
Some offer face-to-face, same-day certification, but this may vary depending on the RTO.
It’s vital that you do your research into which RTO will be best for you, and ensure they have the appropriate accreditation to issue the white card.
Ensure their courses have been created alongside OHS experts so that you’re safe in the knowledge that they have the most up-to-date and comprehensive information.
Safework Australia lists some institutions, otherwise, you can search for one in your area via Google or ask someone you trust for a recommendation.
It’s also vital that you keep the details of your RTO safe. If you lose or damage your white card, only your RTO can re-issue your card without you having to retake the test.
You will also have to retrain if you let your white card lapse- that is to say, if you don’t actively work on a construction site for 2 consecutive years.
Digital white cards are also available in NSW now, as they can be attached to your Service NSW app (in the same place as your digital driver’s licence).
What If I Already Have A Coloured Card?
Even the most seasoned tradies should always be keeping their knowledge of occupational health and safety up to date.
You may have obtained one of the coloured cards before the 2011 standardisation of the cards.
If this is the case- and your employer hasn’t required you to update to a white card- we strongly recommend you do the course and update your knowledge.
Health and safety is always evolving as our knowledge and experience grows, so we believe that everybody can benefit from taking the course.
While a white card is a legal requirement, obtaining one can help you gain confidence in your skills, knowledge, and understanding of occupational health and safety.
Additionally, if you want to go further and obtain a certification in quality and safety, you will need a white card first.