Workcover Codes of Practice now admissible in court proceedings

On 1 January 2012 the new Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and codes of practice commenced and replaced existing occupational health and safety laws in New South Wales.

Under the new WHS Act codes of practice are admissible in court proceedings.  This means that courts can now consider a code of practice as evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk or control and can rely on it to determine what is reasonable practicable in the circumstances.

While a code of practice is now admissible in court proceedings a person cannot be prosecuted for failing to comply with a code of practice and compliance through other methods such as technical or industrial standards are relevant. However they must  provide a standard of work health and safety equivalent to, or higher than the code of practice.

There are a number of new WHS codes of practice on the NSW Government WorkCover website that cover a number of specific areas including confined spaces, hazardous manual tasks, labelling of hazardous chemicals and managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work.  Future codes of practice are also being developed by Safe Work Australia and these are listed on the site.

Safety Services Australia can provide guidance about ensuring compliance with the new codes of practice.  Please contact us on +61 2 9836 3100 or   visit