Codes of practice

Codes of practice provide detailed information on how you can achieve the standards required under the work health and safety laws.

Codes do not replace these laws but can help you understand what you need to do to comply with specific regulations and to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Who do Codes apply to?

Codes of practice apply to anyone who has a duty of care in the circumstances described in the code.

In most cases, following an approved code of practice would mean you comply with the health and safety duties in the work health and safety act.

What are Codes about?

Like regulations, codes of practice deal with particular issues and don’t cover all hazards or risks which may arise.

The health and safety duties require duty holders to consider all risks associated with work, not only those for which regulations and codes of practice exist.

The codes, depending on the subject matter, offer guidance and may include information on:

  • health and safety duties in relation to the code
  • managing associated risks
  • how to consult workers
  • consulting, co-operating and co-ordinating activities with other duty holders.

Many of the codes include practical tools like checklists and risk assessment sheets.

Are codes legally binding?

Codes of practice are admissible in court proceedings as evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk or control, and may be used to determine what is ‘reasonably practicable’ in the circumstances that the code relates to.

It’s recognised that equivalent or better ways of achieving the required work health and safety outcomes may be possible. For that reason, compliance with codes of practice is not mandatory — providing that any other method used provides an equivalent or higher standard of work health and safety than suggested by the code of practice.

An inspector can also refer to a code of practice when issuing an improvement or prohibition notice.

How to use a code

The Codes are written as a practical guide on different areas or subjects of work health and safety.

  • The word ‘should’ indicates a recommended course of action.
  • The word ‘may’ indicates an optional course of action.
  • The words ‘must’, ‘requires’ or ‘mandatory’ indicate a legal requirement exists and must be complied with.

Codes also refer to provisions of the Act and Regulations which set out the legal requirements. These references are not exhaustive.

Codes of Practice Approved under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

ActTopic
Work Health and Safety (Confined Spaces) Code of Practice 2011 This Code of Practice provides practical guidance on how to manage the risks associated with confined spaces in workplaces.
This Code of Practice gives guidance on how to manage the risks associated with abrasive blasting and is intended for a PCBU.
Work Health and Safety (Construction Work Code of Practice) Approval 2018 This Code of Practice provides practical guidance for PCBUs, including those persons who design, construct, import, supply or install plant or structures, on how to eliminate, or if that is not possible, minimise the risks relating to construction work.
Work Health and Safety (Demolition Work Code of Practice) Approval 2015 This Code provides practical guidance to persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage the health and safety risks associated with the demolition work. This Code applies to all types of demolition work.
Work Health and Safety (Excavation Work Code of Practice) Approval 2015 This Code provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage the health and safety risks associated with excavation work, including bulk excavations more than 1.5 metres deep, trenches, shafts and tunnels.
Work Health and Safety (First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice) Approval 2015 This Code of Practice provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to comply with duties under the WHS Act and Regulations to provide adequate first aid facilities in the workplace. It includes information on first aid kits, procedures, facilities and training or first aiders.
Work Health and Safety (Formwork) Code of Practice 2011 This Code provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking to help prevent injury to workers or bystanders when erecting and dismantling formwork and associated equipment.
Work Health and Safety (Hazardous Manual Tasks) Code of Practice 2011 This Code provides practical guidance to persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage the risk of musculoskeletal disorders arising from hazardous manual tasks in the workplace. It applies to all types of work and all workplaces where manual tasks are carried out.
Work Health and Safety (How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice) Approval 2014 This Code provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage risks associated with asbestos and asbestos containing material (ACM) at the workplace and thereby minimise the incidence of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
Work Health and Safety (How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks) Code of Practice 2011 This Code provides practical guidance for persons who have duties under the WHS Act and Regulations to manage risks to health and safety. The duty is placed on persons conducting a business or undertaking, including employers, self-employed, principal contractors, persons with management or control of a workplace, designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plant, substances or structures that are used for work.
Work Health and Safety (How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice) Approval 2014 This Code provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking who have duties under the WHS Act and WHS Regulations to safely remove asbestos from all workplaces including structures, plant and equipment.
Work Health and Safety (Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice) Approval 2018 This Code applies to substances, mixtures and articles used, handled or stored at the workplace and which are defined as hazardous chemicals under the WHS Regulations.
Work Health and Safety (Managing Electrical Risks at the Workplace Code of Practice) Approval 2015 This Code provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking on managing electrical risks in the workplace. It applies to all workplaces where a person conducting a business or undertaking has management or control of electrical equipment, including electrical installations, or carries out electrical work on or near energised electrical equipment, including electrical installations.
Work Health and Safety (Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss at Work) Code of Practice 2011 This Code of Practice applies to all types of work and all workplaces covered by the WHS Act where there is the potential for exposure to noise that can contribute to hearing loss. It provides practical guidance to persons conducting a business or undertaking on how noise affects hearing, how to identify and assess exposure to noise and how to control health and safety risks arising from hazardous noise.
Work Health and Safety (Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace Code of Practice) Approval 2018. This Code provides practical guidance on how to manage health and safety risks associated with hazardous chemicals for persons conducting a business or undertaking who use chemicals in their workplace.
Work Health and Safety (Managing Risks of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice) Approval 2012 This Code provides practical guidance on how to manage health and safety risks of plant once it is in the workplace, from plant installation, commissioning and use through to decommissioning and dismantling.
Work Health and Safety (Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces Code of Practice) Approval 2015 This Code provides practical guidance to persons conducting a business or undertaking, including those persons who design, construct, import, supply or install plant or structures, on how to manage health and safety risks arising from falls. It includes information on a range of control measures to eliminate or minimise the risks.
Work Health and Safety (Managing the Work Environment and Facilities) Code of Practice 2011 This Code applies to all types of work and all workplaces covered by the WHS Act, including workplaces that are mobile, temporary and remote. This Code covers the physical work environment (such as workspace, lighting and ventilation), facilities for workers (including toilets, drinking water, washing and dining areas, change rooms, personal storage and shelter), remote and isolated work and emergency plans.
Work Health and Safety (Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals Code of Practice) Approval 2018 This Code provides practical guidance on how to prepare a safety data sheet for any hazardous chemicals that are being manufactured or imported for use, handling or storage in Australia. It applies to a person conducting a business or undertaking involved in the manufacture or import of hazardous chemicals that will be used, or could reasonably be expected to be used, in workplaces.
Work Health and Safety (Preventing and Responding to Bullying) Code of Practice 2012 (No 1) The measures described in this guide will help persons conducting a business or undertaking and/or persons in control of premises to develop systems that will prevent bullying, respond to reports of bullying and effectively meet their legal duties under work health and safety (WHS) laws.
Work Health and Safety (Preventing Falls in Housing Construction Code of Practice) Approval 2012 This Code of Practice on how to prevent the risks of falls in housing construction is an approved code of practice under section 274 of the WHS Act.
Work Health and Safety (Safe Design of Structures Code of Practice) Approval 2012 This Code applies to the design of ‘structures’ defined under the WHS Act to mean anything that is constructed, whether fixed or moveable, temporary or permanent, and includes buildings, masts, towers, framework, pipelines, roads, bridges, rail infrastructure and underground works (shafts or tunnels) and any component or part of a structure.
Work Health and Safety (Sexual Services Industry) Code of Practice 2011 The purpose of this Code of Practice is to provide practical guidance to persons conducting a business or undertaking and/or operators, sex workers and other workers in the sexual services industry in the ACT with regards to meeting appropriate work safety standards.
Work Health and Safety (Spray Painting and Powder Coating Code of Practice) 2020This Code of Practice gives guidance to PCBUs on how to manage the risks associated with spray painting and powder coating.
Work Health and Safety (Transport and Delivery of Cash) Code of Practice 2011 This Code of Practice provides guidance to prevent injury and illness to persons engaged in Cash-In-Transit operations and work. It also provides practical guidance on implementing the requirements of the Act and associated regulations.
Work Health and Safety (Welding Process Code of Practice) Approval 2012 This Code of Practice provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage health and safety risks associated with welding. This Code applies to all workplaces covered by the WHS Act where welding processes are carried out and to all persons involved in these activities.
Work Health and Safety (Work Health and Safety Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination Code of Practice) Approval 2018 This Code provides practical guidance to PCBUs on how to effectively consult with workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking and who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a health and safety matter. It includes information on mechanisms to facilitate worker participation and representation.

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