Work Safety Codes of Practice Now Mandatory
From 1 July, standards set by individual codes of practice, or equivalent or higher standards, must be followed by all employers, or they risk enforcement action being taken by workplace safety inspectors. Inspectors will be able to issue improvement notices where requirements of the codes are being breached, rather than just for breaches of the Act or Regulation.
Duty holders can follow another method, such as a technical or an industry standard, to manage hazards and risks, as long as it provides an equivalent or higher standard of work health and safety to the standard required in the code.
The standards set out in the codes will be directly enforceable, which gives clarity to employers managing safety risks, and to work health and safety inspectors when they need to take action against those employers not doing the right thing by their workers.
Thirty-eight approved codes of practice have been reviewed to support their status as the minimum standard from 1 July. This review was limited to identifying any legislative inconsistencies and technical inaccuracies requiring correction.
Codes approved after 23 October 2017 are now also subject to a mandatory review every five years to make sure they stay current with technology, emerging safety issues and changes in industry work practices. These codes will automatically expire after five years. Codes approved before that date remain in force, but will be reviewed over the next five years to ensure they are in line with industry best practice.
Codes of practice will continue to be used in court proceedings as evidence of whether or not a duty holder has complied with their obligations; as evidence of what is known about a hazard or risk and how to control it; and to determine what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.
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