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Ok what is a Code of Practice in Safety and WHY WOULD I EVER NEED ONE!

In my current position in life I get to review and inspect a lot of company safety files and data records for quality and regulatory control prior to audits.  One item that seems to be a big fat fail is Code of Practices and why as company in lot of case you must have one in place.

In reality a CODE of Practice is: Written guidelines issued by an official body or a professional association to its members to help them comply with its ethical standards.

And in the Business World it means; Ensure that you check it with your legal department or legal advisor before establishing and issuing a code of practice, as this type of document will almost certainly have contractual implications for your organization. Involving customers in the drafting of a code of practice is also useful.

A code of practice is not the same as your terms and conditions of sale, which are purely to cover the legal aspects of the sales transaction. A code of practice should reflect as far as possible the way that you do business, and also cover any issues of potential misunderstanding concerned with your trading style, and even your business philosophy. Your code of practice should state your organization’s position on the issues that your customers might consider to be important criteria in the approval of suppliers, so the example below is not an exhaustive or definitive list.

In safety it is an approved code of practice is a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety  and welfare required under the OHS Act and the OHS Regulations.

A code of practice applies 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 achieve compliance  with the health and safety duties in the OHS Act, in relation to the subject matter of the code.
Like regulations, codes of practice deal with particular issues and do not cover all hazards or risks that 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.

Codes of practice are admissible in court proceedings under the OHS Act and Regulations.
Courts may regard a code of practice as evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk or
control and may rely on the code in determining what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances to which the code relates.

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

Like ( but notwithstanding under law)

Code of Practice – Working alone

PURPOSE The purpose of this procedure is to provide a code of practice for employees who find themselves working after hours.

SCOPE The procedure applies to all employees who work after hours.

And under Federal Laws it is used for;

A code of practice is typically used:

  • To communicate detailed technical information describing in length the activities that will reduce the use/release of a substance and how to implement these activities;
  • When it is difficult to establish numerical restrictions (e.g. concentration or quantity of releases);
  • When there is a willingness among the intended users to implement the code of practice; or
  • When there is a need to minimize duplication and align with other jurisdictions.


In most cases the code of practice is trying to have : Common elements

  • Introduction, purpose and objective
  • An overview of the targeted operational activities •

Description of the activities of concern

  • Recommended environmental procedures to mitigate concerns
  • Data collection, reporting and verification processes.


First-hand operational knowledge is an important source of information used in the development of codes of practice

Terry Penney

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