What are codes of practice and how do they relate to the law?

An approved code of practice is a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under work health and safety laws.

Who do they apply to?

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 WHS legislation for the subject matter of the code.

Like regulations, codes of practice deal with particular issues and do not cover all hazards or risks. 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.

What is their legal status?

Codes of practice are admissible in court proceedings under WHS legislation. Courts may regard a code of practice as evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk or control. They may also rely on the code in determining what is reasonably practicable.

You can achieve compliance with the WHS legislation by following another method, such as a technical or an industry standard, as long as it provides an equivalent or higher standard of work health and safety than the relevant code.

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

How are they developed?

WHS codes of practice are generally developed with input from all state and territory WHS regulators as well as worker and business representatives. They are released for public comment as part of the process.

Mining codes of practice have been developed with input from the Queensland and Western Australian mine safety regulators as well as worker and business representatives. In some cases they have been based on draft model codes developed under the National Mine Safety Framework.

Codes of practice for WHS (Mines) legislation

A number of codes of practice have been approved by the Minister for Resources and Energy, and apply to all NSW mines.

Note: Some graphics in these publications may not be accessible. If you need accessible content, contact mine.safety@planning.nsw.gov.au. If you are unable to download any of our codes of practice, contact your local mine safety office for a printed copy.

When new draft codes of practice are developed, they are released for public consultation under the WHS (Mines) legislation. Check our public consultation page for current draft codes of practice.

If you would like to keep informed of new public consultation as they become available for public comment or are published, subscribe to Mine Safety News.

Codes of practice for WHS legislation

A series of codes of practice have also been approved under the NSW Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

They are available from SafeWorkNSW.

They cover:

  • Abrasive blasting
  • Confined spaces
  • Construction work
  • Demolition work
  • Excavation work
  • First aid in the workplace
  • Hazardous manual tasks
  • How to manage and control asbestos in the workplace
  • How to manage work health and safety risks
  • How to safely remove asbestos
  • Labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals
  • Managing electrical risks at the workplace
  • Managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work
  • Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace
  • Managing risks of plant in the workplace
  • Managing the risk of falls at workplaces
  • Managing the work environment and facilities
  • Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals
  • Preventing falls in housing construction
  • Safe design of structures
  • Spray painting and powder coating
  • Welding processes
  • Work health and safety consultation, coordination and cooperation
  • Work near overhead power lines