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Codes of Practice

Further Information

For further information around general harmonisation, the WHS Act, Model WHS Act, regulations and codes of practice.

Approved Codes of Practice

The Work Health and Safety Approved Codes of Practice 2011 (WHS Codes of Practice) are critical to understanding the duties contained in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (WHS Act) and WHS Regulations.

The WHS Codes of Practice provide practical guidance to support the WHS Act and WHS Regulations. Non-compliance with Codes of Practice does not necessarily constitute a non-compliance of WHS legislation.

WHS Codes of Practice are not mandatory and if the Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) can find an equivalent means of providing the same level of health and safety—as provided for in the WHS Code of Practice—then that is an acceptable course of action. However, WHS Codes of Practice do have evidentiary status in court.

Codes of Practice in effect in the Commonwealth jurisdiction

Priority Codes

Significant consultation was undertaken during the development of the first set of (priority codes) WHS Codes of Practice.

On 2 December 2010, Safe Work Australia members agreed to release an exposure draft of the model WHS Regulations and first set of model Codes of Practice for public comment for a period of four months from 7 December 2010 to 4 April 2011. A discussion paper also accompanied the exposure draft.

Safe Work Australia held five members’ meetings involving representatives of government, employer and employee organisations to progress the harmonisation of the work health and safety framework in Australia.

There were also 27 Strategic Issues Group for Occupational Health and Safety (SIG-OHS) meetings held and consultative forums with Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and their members and affiliates.

The release of the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) provided an opportunity for consideration of 1343 public submissions as well as feedback from focus groups in all states and territories and an online survey.

Priority Codes of Practice

  • How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks
  • Managing the Work Environment and Facilities
  • Work Health and Safety Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination
  • Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss
  • Hazardous Manual Tasks
  • Confined Spaces
  • Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces
  • Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals
  • Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals
  • How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace
  • How to Safely Remove Asbestos

Second set of WHS Codes of Practice

The second stage WHS Codes of Practice have come into effect in the Commonwealth jurisdiction from 19 December 2012 and have now replaced any applicable chapters in the OHS Codes of Practice 2008.

The second stage WHS Codes of Practice include:

  • First Aid in the Workplace
  • Managing Risks in Construction Work
  • Preventing Falls in Housing Construction
  • Managing Electrical Risks at the Workplace
  • Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace
  • Managing Risks of Plant in the Workplace
  • Welding Processes
  • Safe Design of Building and Structures
  • Excavation Work
  • Demolition Work
  • Spray Painting and Powder Coating
  • Abrasive Blasting

You can access the Code of Practice codes listed above on the Comlaw website.

Draft model Codes of Practice

In addition to the priority Codes of Practice that came into effect from 1 January 2012 and the more recent second stage Codes of Practice that came into effect from 19 December 2012 - other additional Codes of Practice will be introduced into the Commonwealth legislative framework in 2013 and will replace any corresponding parts in the Occupational Health and Safety Approved Codes of Practice 2008 (OHS Codes). Until these additional draft model codes are finalised, any applicable remaining OHS Codes will continue to apply in the Commonwealth jurisdiction.

Preventing and Managing Fatigue in the Workplace and Responding to Workplace Bullying draft Codes of Practice

The Preventing and Managing Fatigue in the Workplace and Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying draft model Codes of Practice are currently being revised based on public comment. They are expected to be finalised in the first half of 2013

Third and Fourth sets of WHS Codes of Practice

On 21 November 2012, Safe Work Australia endorsed 12 more model Codes of Practice, including those relating to workplace traffic management, industrial lift trucks, and the safe design, manufacture, import and supply of plant.

These model codes will take effect in the Commonwealth jurisdiction once they are passed as legislative instruments. When this has been completed, they will replace any applicable current chapters in the OHS Codes of Practice 2008.

Third set of WHS Codes of Practice

The model Codes of Practice cover:

  • Safe Design, Manufacture, Import and Supply of Plant
  • Working in the Vicinity of Overhead and Underground Electrical Lines
  • Traffic Management in Workplaces
  • Scaffolding Work
  • Formwork and Falsework.

Fourth set of WHS Codes of Practice

The model Codes of Practice cover:

  • Managing Risks in Forestry Operations
  • Industrial lift trucks
  • Cranes
  • Amusement devices
  • Managing Risks of Plant used in Rural Workplaces
  • Managing Security Risks in the Cash-in-transit Industry
  • Tree Trimming and Removal Work – Crane Access Method
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