Key Points:

The new work health and safety Codes of Practice will have the greatest impact on the construction, electrical and manufacturing industries.

On 18 July 2014 12 new Codes of Practice came into force to improve safety in NSW workplaces.

Codes of Practice

A Code of Practice provides details on how to achieve the standards required under work health and safety (WHS) legislation, by identifying hazards and managing risks.

A person with duties under WHS legislation can comply with their duties by adhering to another method, such as a technical or industry standard, as long as it gives a standard of health or safety that is equivalent to, or higher than, the code of practice.

Harmonisation

The new codes are part of the national harmonised work health and safety laws that were adopted by NSW in 2012, and mirror Safe Work Australia's model Codes of Practice. The new Codes replace a number of existing codes that were in place under previous occupational health and safety laws.

The 12 new Codes of Practice are:

  • First aid in the workplace;
  • Construction work;
  • Preventing Falls in Housing Construction;
  • Managing electrical risks in the workplace;
  • Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace;
  • Managing the risks of plant in the workplace;
  • Safe design of structures;
  • Excavation work;
  • Demolition work;
  • Welding processes;
  • Spray painting and powder coating; and
  • Abrasive blasting.

The five existing Codes of Practice that have been revoked "to avoid duplication or conflict" are:

  • Excavation work;
  • Safe work on Roofs (Part 2 – Residential Buildings);
  • Work in Hot and Cold Environments;
  • Amenities for Construction Work; and
  • Prevention of Occupational Overuse Syndrome.

Acting General Manager of WorkCover's Work Health and Safety Division, Peter Dunphy said that the new codes are about making NSW workplaces safer: "The new codes make it easier for everyone to know and understand their responsibilities… While what was safe previously will continue to be safe under the new codes, it is important that businesses, industry and workers understand the key changes".

The new Codes affect all industries, however, as the new codes relate to first aid, construction work, electrical, chemical and plant risks, welding and spray painting, they will have the greatest impact on those in the construction, electrical and manufacturing industries.