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What are 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 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.

How codes take effect in Tasmania

In consultation with state and territory governments, Safe Work Australia has developed model codes of practice that support work health and safety laws.

A model code of practice becomes an approved code of practice with effect in Tasmania once it has been approved by the Tasmanian minister who is responsible for work health and safety in Tasmania.

Preserved Tasmanian codes of practice

Four codes of practice from the now-repealed Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 have been ‘preserved’ and taken to be approved under the current work health and safety laws:

Who 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 codes cover

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.

Resources

WorkSafe Tasmania resources

Codes of Practice

Other resources

How to determine what is reasonably practicable to meet a health and safety duty: Safe Work Australia (external link)

Updated: 11th December 2019