What is a Code of Practice?
A code of practice is a document that describes the procedures to be followed to ensure that workers safely perform work at a work site. Often a Code of practice is a Safe Job Procedure that is required by legislation.
A code of practice for a particular industry is best developed by representatives from that industry. This gives operators from the industry greater ownership of the code of practice. It should result in a better code of practice as the operators have a thorough knowledge of the issues for that industry. Some industries like will form an association and develop codes of practice like OSSA (Oil Sands Safety Association). In this case they have developed a few “regional” codes of practice.
Section 33 of the OHS Act in Alberta requires a code of practice to include “practical guidance on the requirements of the regulations or the adopted code applicable to the work site, safe working procedures in respect of the work site and other matters as required by a Director, the regulations or the adopted code”.
Section 8 of the OHS Regulation in Alberta requires that the code of practice be in writing and available to workers at the work site who are affected by it. Workers should be consulted about the content of the code of practice as they often have the best understanding of the hazards involved in the work.
Codes of practice
26(1) An employer must have a code of practice governing the storage, handling, use and disposal of a substance listed in Schedule 1, Table 1 that is present at a work site (a) as pure substance in an amount exceeding 10 kilograms, or (b) in a mixture in which the amount of the substance is more than 10 kilograms and at a concentration of 0.1 percent by weight or more. 26(2) The code of practice must include measures to be used to prevent the uncontrolled release of the substance and the procedures to be followed if there is an uncontrolled release.
The help of health and safety professionals such as occupational hygienists or engineers is also useful when preparing the code of practice, especially for complex situations.
The code of practice must be maintained and periodically reviewed to ensure that its procedures are up-to-date and continues to reflect the work activities for which it was originally written.
Examples of Common Codes of Practice in Alberta:
Code of practice 44(1) An employer must have a written code of practice governing the practices and procedures to be followed when workers enter and work in a confined space. 44(2) The code of practice must (a) take into account and apply the requirements of this Part and of section 169, (b) be maintained and periodically reviewed, and (c) identify all existing and potential confined space work locations at a work site. 44(3) A worker involved in any aspect of a confined space entry must comply with the requirements and procedures in the code of practice.
Respiratory Protective Equipment:
245(1) If respiratory protective equipment is used at a work site, an employer must prepare a code of practice governing the selection, maintenance and use of respiratory protective equipment. 245(2) In the case of a health care worker who may be exposed to airborne bio-hazardous material, an employer must ensure that the code of practice required under subsection (1) includes training on at least an annual basis.
Installing and maintaining or removing ground supports:
709(1) An employer must prepare a code of practice for installing and maintaining or removing ground supports that prescribes the procedures to be followed by workers. 709(2) A mine official must post a copy of the code of practice prepared under subsection (1) in a conspicuous location at the mine.
Substances and processes requiring a code of practice:
- Arsenic and arsenic compounds
- Coal tar pitch volatiles
- 1,2-Dibromoethane (Ethylene dibromide)
- Ethylene oxide
- Hydrogen sulphide
- Lead and lead compounds
- Methyl bromide
- Methyl hydrazine
- Silica-crystalline, respirable
- Styrene in styrene resin fabrication
- Vinyl chloride (Chloroethylene)
- Zinc chromate