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Codes of practice

Work Health and Safety (WHS) Codes of Practice offer practical guidance to achieve the standards of health, safety and welfare required in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011(WHS Regulations).

A code of practice applies to anyone who has a duty of care in the circumstances detailed in the code. In most cases, following an approved code of practice would achieve compliance with the health and safety duties in the WHS Act and Regulations. WHS Codes of Practice are admissible in court proceedings. Courts may regard a code of practice as evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk or control, and rely on it to determine what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances. Following another method, such as a technical or an industry standard may achieve compliance with the WHS Act and Regulations, if it provides an equivalent or higher standard of work health and safety than the code.

An inspector may refer to an approved code of practice when issuing an improvement or prohibition notice.

Codes of Practice in effect in the Commonwealth jurisdiction

Significant consultation was undertaken during the development of the model WHS Codes of Practice. The following Codes of Practice came into effect in the Commonwealth in 2012:

Draft model Codes of Practice

In addition to the Codes of Practice listed above, further ones may be introduced into the Commonwealth legislative framework in 2013/14 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.

The following draft model Codes of Practice are currently being considered for introduction. They are provided on the Safe Work Australia website as guidance material until approved:

  • working in the vicinity of overhead and underground electric lines
  • safe design, manufacture, import and supply of plant
  • amusement devices
  • scaffolds and scaffolding work
  • tree trimming and removal work—crane access method
  • industrial lift trucks
  • formwork and falsework
  • managing risks of plant in rural workplaces
  • cranes
  • managing risks in forestry operation
  • managing cash-in-transit security risks
  • traffic management in workplaces.
Last updated: 23 Apr 2014