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Proposed Hazardous Manual Handling Compliance Code: what are the proposed changes?

  1. The proposed Hazardous Manual Handling Compliance Code (Code) provides practical guidance to duty holders on how to comply with their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and ‘Part 3.1 – Hazardous Manual Handling’ of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations).
  2. The proposed Code is based on the Code of Practice for Manual Handling 2000, and draws on information from the Safe Work Australia Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice 2011. The title of Part 3.1 of the OHS Regulations 2017 has been changed to ‘Hazardous Manual Handling’ to better reflect the scope of the Part. This change has been reflected in the Code.
  3. The Code also provides information for employers about how to identify hazardous manual handling and manage any risk of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). Additionally it has information for designers, manufacturers and suppliers of plant, structures and buildings about their duties under the OHS Act in relation to controlling MSD risk.
  4. A number of industry specific examples have been incorporated into the proposed Code. The Code is now more succinct and streamlined, and reflects changes to the state of knowledge as well as advancements in ways to control the risks associated with hazardous manual handling.
  5. The proposed Code reflects the flexibility offered in the OHS Regulations 2017, where employers can choose their own risk control methods if they are already aware of the risk and how to control it (see Part 4 – Risk control measures).
  6. Based on feedback received during public comment on the proposed OHS Regulations 2017, the Code also includes some information on organisational (psychosocial) factors such as work demands.
  7. Questions to help assess MSD risk are now provided in Part 3, Sections 47 and 48.

Proposed Hazardous Substances Compliance Code: What are the proposed changes?

  1. The proposed Hazardous Substances Compliance Code (Code) provides practical guidance to duty holders on how to comply with their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and under ‘Part 4.1 – Hazardous Substances’ of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations). 
  2. The proposed Code is based on the existing Hazardous Substances Code of Practice 2000.
  3. The proposed Code has been updated to reflect changes to the Hazardous Substances chapter of the OHS Regulations 2017. References to the Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances and the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) have been removed and replaced with updated guidance on the classification and labelling of hazardous substances in accordance with Part 3 of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). References to ‘material safety data sheets’ (MSDS) have been replaced with ‘safety data sheets’ (SDS). 
  4. The Code has also been updated to provide further guidance on the recognition of other labelling systems. Specifically, new guidance about the need for hazard statements and precautionary statements to accompany agricultural and veterinary chemicals to satisfy the requirements of the GHS, in addition to labelling requirements imposed by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), has been included. 
  5. The proposed Code draws content from the existing Hazardous Substances Code of Practice, the WorkSafe Code of Practice for the Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods 2013, the Safe Work Australia Model Code of Practice – Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace 2012, the Safe Work Australia Model Code of Practice – Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals 2016, and the Safe Work Australia – Guidance on the Classification of Hazardous Chemicals under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations. 
  6. Consistent with other Codes, the proposed Code includes new sections on: 
  • legal duties for employers, self-employed persons, employees, manufacturers and importing suppliers, suppliers other than an importing supplier, and; 
  • the general risk management process.

Proposed Plant Compliance Code: what are the proposed changes?

  1. The proposed Plant Compliance Code (Code) provides practical guidance to duty holders on how to comply with their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and ‘Part 3.5 – Plant’ of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations).
  2. The proposed Code is based on the Plant Code of Practice 1995 (amended 1998). It provides guidance on how to identify hazards and control risks associated with plant used in the workplace for duty holders (employers, persons with management or control of a workplace, manufacturers, suppliers, and persons who install, erect or commission plant). It also sets out guidance regarding record keeping, providing information to other duty holders and design registration.
  3. Duplication within the Code has been reduced by:
    - replacing fragmented information about the general risk management process with a separate section at the start of the Code
    - cross-referencing within the Code, where guidance is relevant to multiple duty holders
    - moving lists of technical standards to Appendix B, and;
    - removing full quotations of regulations.
  4. Diagrams and illustrations have been updated to reflect modern work practices and hazards.
  5. A new section for employers has been added to address what needs to be considered throughout the lifecycle of plant (see Part 3.6 – From Purchase to Disposal).
  6. Several topics have been added to the Plant Code, to provide guidance on requirements introduced in 2017 that apply to certain types of plant and control measures:
    - maintaining and reviewing risk controls (Part 3.3)
    - isolating procedures – lock out/tag out (Part 3.4)
    - operator controls (Part 3.4)
    - emergency stop devices (Part 3.4)
    - warning devices (Part 3.4)
    - lifts (Part 3.5)
    - tower cranes (Part 3.5)
    - transportation of plant (Part 3.6) , and
    - disposing of plant (Part 3.6).
  7. Additional guidance has also been added on employer duties regarding powered mobile plant and industrial lift trucks (Part 3.5).
  8. Information for upstream duty holders (designers, manufacturers and suppliers) has been revised.

Proposed Confined Spaces Compliance Code: what are the proposed changes?

  1. The proposed Confined Spaces Compliance Code (Code) provides practical guidance to duty holders on how to comply with their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and ‘Part 3.4 – Confined Spaces’ of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations).
  2. The proposed Code is based on the existing Confined Spaces Compliance Code 2008. Content is largely taken from the existing Confined Spaces Code.
  3. The proposed Code provides duty holders with guidance about risks to health and safety associated with entry and work in a confined space such as a vat, tank, pit, pipe, flue, oven, silo or other similar enclosed or partially enclosed structure that meets other specific conditions such as the likelihood of a hazardous atmosphere occurring or a limited or restricted means of entry or exit.
  4. When reviewing the code, stakeholders advised the current Confined Spaces Code was working well and recommended that content remain largely unchanged except where content needed to be updated to align with the new OHS Regulations 2017.
  5. Information clarifying the supplier duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that plant has been designed and manufactured in accordance with the OHS Regulations 2017 before the plant is supplied, has also been added to the Code (see Part 2 – Duties of designers, manufacturers and suppliers).
  6. The duty of suppliers of plant to reduce the risks associated with entry to and exit from the confined space, if it is not reasonably practicable for them to eliminate the need for a person to enter a confined space, has been removed from the OHS Regulations 2017. Therefore corresponding amendments have been made to remove guidance regarding this duty from the proposed Code. 
  7. Consistent with other Codes, the proposed Code includes new sections on:
    - legal duties for employers, self-employed persons, employees, manufacturers and/or designers and suppliers and;
    - the general risk management process.
  8. Recent examples of incidents involving confined spaces have been added to Appendix B (Examples of confined space incidents) of the Code.

Proposed Demolition Compliance Code: what are the proposed changes?

  1. The proposed Demolition Compliance Code (Code) provides practical guidance to duty holders on how to comply with their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and ‘Part 5.1– Construction’ of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) in relation to demolition work.
  2. The proposed Code is based on the Demolition Code of Practice 1991 (amended 1998). It provides guidance about the planning and preparation required for demolition work and provides guidance on how to identify and control risks associated with the work, including demolition methods for specific types of structures.
  3. Guidance that is relevant to hazards and risks addressed by other Codes has been reduced, including in relation to the prevention of falls.
  4. The proposed Code provides guidance on current regulatory requirements, including information on:
    - duties for principal contractors
    - safe work method statements for high risk construction work (which includes demolition work), and;
    - high risk work licensing.
  5. Information on the use of explosives has been revised to emphasise the need for duty holders to consider using safer demolition methods before selecting explosives. The revised information also includes requirements under the Dangerous Goods (Explosives) Regulations 2011, such as the duty to notify WorkSafe of the intention to use explosives.
  6. Consistent with other Codes, the proposed Code includes new sections on:
  • legal duties for employers, self-employed persons, persons with control or management of a workplace, principal contractors, persons who install, erect or commission plant and employees, and;
  • the general risk management process.

Proposed Facilities in Construction Compliance Code: what are the proposed changes?

  1. The proposed Facilities in Construction Compliance Code (Code) provides practical guidance to duty holders on how to comply with their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) in relation to providing adequate facilities for the welfare of employees working on construction sites.
  2. The proposed Code is based on the Building and Construction Workplaces Code of Practice, 1990. The proposed Code provides guidance about an employer’s duty to provide adequate facilities for the welfare of their employees (including contractors), specific to the construction industry. This includes guidance on the provision of suitable toilets, drinking water, and facilities for washing, changing and meals.
  3. As with the existing Code of Practice, the proposed Code does not apply to residential construction projects. WorkSafe published guidance for residential construction sites in September 2016 (‘Information about: Workplace facilities on medium-sized residential construction developments’).
  4. The proposed Code retains the minimum number of toilets recommended in the existing Code.
  5. Guidance on the provision of drinking water has been amended to clarify that it should be cool and safe to drink. 
  6. Guidance that is relevant to hazards and risks addressed by other Codes has been reduced or removed, including content regarding the provision of personal protective equipment and first aid facilities.
  7. The requirement for meal facilities to be above ground has been removed, as acceptable meal areas may be provided in basements where they meet the remaining criteria (e.g. hygienic and waterproof, with suitable ventilation and lighting, and kept at a comfortable temperature range).
  8. A new ‘facilities planning checklist’ is provided in Appendix B, consistent with the Workplace Amenities and Work Environment Compliance Code 2010.

Proposed Excavation Compliance Code: what are the proposed changes?

1.  The proposed Excavation Compliance Code (Code) provides practical guidance to duty holders on how to comply with their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and ‘Part 5.1- Construction’ of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) in relation to excavation work.

2.  The proposed Excavation Code is based on the Safety Precautions in Trenching Operations Code of Practice 1988. It provides guidance to employers, self-employed persons and principal contractors on how to comply with 5.1 of the OHS Regulations 2017 when undertaking excavation work. It sets out methods for planning excavation work, and provides guidance on identifying and controlling common risks (e.g. methods to prevent ground collapse).

3.  The proposed Code provides guidance on current regulatory requirements, including information on:

·  duties for principal contractors

·  safe work method statements for high risk construction work (which includes excavation work)

·  high risk work licensing

·  the duty to notify WorkSafe at least 3 days before excavation work commences, and

·  the new employer duty introduced in the OHS Regulations 2017 to provide emergency procedures where there is a risk of a person becoming engulfed when construction work is performed.

4.  Information on the use of explosives has been revised to emphasise the need for duty holders to consider using safer demolition methods before selecting explosives. The revised information also includes requirements under the Dangerous Goods (Explosives) Regulations 2011, such as the duty to notify WorkSafe of the intention to use explosives.

5.  Consistent with other Codes, the proposed Code includes new sections on:

·  legal duties for employers, self-employed persons, persons with control or management of a workplace, principal contractors, persons who install, erect or commission plant,  persons who design a building or structure and employees, and;

·  the general risk management process.

Proposed Noise Compliance Code: what are the proposed changes?

  1. The proposed Noise Compliance Code (Code) provides practical guidance to duty holders on how to comply with their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and ‘Part 3.2 – Noise’ of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations).
  2. Victoria does not currently have a Noise Compliance Code. WorkSafe currently provides non-statutory guidance about noise in Victorian workplaces in the Guide for assessing and fixing noise problems at work2005 (Noise handbook).
  3. Content for the proposed Noise Compliance Code is from the Noise handbook, the Safe Work Australia Model Code of Practice – Managing noise and preventing hearing loss September 2015and theWorkSafe Noise Code of Practice No.17, 1992.
  4. The Code provides background about what causes hearing loss and how noise physically damages hearing.
  5. Consistent with other Codes, the proposed Code includes sections on:
  • legal duties for employers, self-employed persons, employees, manufacturers and/or designers of plant, designers of buildings or structures, suppliers, persons who install, erect or commission plant and;
  • the general risk management process.

What is a compliance code?

Compliance codes provide practical guidance to duty holders on how to comply with duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations 2017).

While the guidance provided in a code is not mandatory, a duty holder who complies with a code will – to the extent it deals with their duties or obligations under the OHS Regulations – be considered to have complied with those duties or obligations.

Codes use simple language, examples, pictures, and diagrams to show known, available, and effective means of achieving compliance in everyday circumstances and situations.

Who is undertaking the review?

WorkSafe Victoria (WorkSafe), in collaboration with key stakeholders, is undertaking the review of the compliance codes on behalf of the Victorian Government.

Why is WorkSafe reviewing the codes?

The codes have been updated to ensure they reflect the duties in the OHS Act 2004 and the OHS Regulations 2017 that will take effect on 18 June 2017.

What is the difference between a compliance code and a code of practice?

In Victoria, Codes of Practice that were made under the previous OHS Act 1985 (now repealed) no longer have legal status under the current OHS Act 2004.  

Compliance Codes that are made under the current Act have a specific legal status, which means that a duty holder who complies with a code – to the extent it deals with their duties or obligations under the OHS Regulations – will be considered to have complied with those duties or obligations.


Which codes are under review?

WorkSafe is reviewing the following codes of practice and compliance codes as part of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation Reform:

  • Safety Precautions in Trenching Operations Code of Practice
  • Building and Construction Workplaces Code of Practice
  • Demolition Code of Practice
  • Plant Code of Practice
  • Manual Handling Code of Practice
  • Hazardous Substances Code of Practice
  • Confined Spaces Compliance Code
  • Prevention of Falls in Housing Construction Code of Practice
  • Prevention of Falls in General Construction Compliance Code
  • Removing Asbestos in Workplaces Compliance Code
  • Managing Asbestos in Workplaces Compliance Code

Which codes are being proposed?

The following eight proposed codes are available for public comment in May to June 2017:

  • Hazardous Manual Handling Compliance Code (previously Manual Handling Code of Practice)
  • Hazardous Substances Compliance Code (previously Hazardous Substances Code of Practice)
  • Plant Compliance Code (previously Plant Code of Practice)
  • Confined Spaces Compliance Code (previously Confined Spaces Compliance Code)
  • Demolition Compliance Code (previously Demolition Code of Practice)
  • Facilities in Construction Compliance Code (previously Building and Construction Workplaces Code of Practice)
  • Excavation Compliance Code (previously Safety Precautions in Trenching Operations Code of Practice)
  • Noise Compliance Code (this is a new code, created from a guidance handbook, Guide for assessing and fixing noise problems at work).

Following public comment, the codes will be updated to reflect feedback and WorkSafe will provide the finalised codes to the Minister for Finance, Robin Scott MP, for his approval.

The following proposed compliance codes are still under review. A separate public comment period is expected to be held late in 2017 for them.

  • Managing Asbestos in the Workplace Compliance Code
  • Removing Asbestos in the Workplace Compliance Code
  • Prevention of Falls in Housing Construction Compliance Code
  • Prevention of Falls in General Construction Compliance Code.

Why weren’t the compliance codes released for public comment at the same time as the proposed OHS Regulations 2017?

In consultation with stakeholders, the proposed compliance codes were released for public comment after the OHS Regulations 2017 were settled so that the codes can be reviewed in line with the final regulations.

Which organisations are involved in the stakeholder reference groups?

Ten topic-specific stakeholder reference groups consisting of employer, industry, and employee organisations, listed below, were established to support OHS Regulation Reform, including the compliance codes review.

AiGroup - The Australian Industry Group

AMCA - Airconditioning and Mechanical Contractors' Association

AMIEU - Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union

AMWU - Australian Manufacturing Workers Union

ANMF - Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation

AWU - Australian Workers Union

CCF - Civil Contractors Federation

CFA - Country Fire Authority

CFMEU - Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union Mining & Energy Union

ETU - Electrical Trade Union

HIA - Housing Industry association

MBAV - Master Builders Association of Victoria

MCA - Minerals Council of Australia

MFB - Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board

MPMSAA - Master Plumbers & Mechanical Services Association of Australia

MUA – Maritime Union of Australia

NGMA - National Gypsum Miners Association

PACIA - Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association

PAV - The Police Association of Victoria

PMAV - Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria

PTEU - Plumbing Trades Employees Union

SES - Victoria State Emergency Service Authority

VACC - Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce

VCEA - Victorian Congress of Employers Association

VECCI - Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry

VicWater – VicWater Industry Association

VicPol – Victoria Police

VTHC – Victoria Trades Hall Council

What changes are proposed to the compliance codes?

Changes proposed reflect the recent changes to the OHS Regulations 2017 and current Victorian work practices and hazards. 

You can view a summary of the proposed changes to the compliance codes in these FAQs above.

Why is Victoria not adopting the model codes developed under national Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) legislation?

The Victorian Government has stated that it will not be adopting the model work health and safety laws in their current form.

WorkSafe continues to enforce Victoria's existing occupational health and safety (OHS) laws.

Model Codes of Practice have not been designed to assist duty holders to comply with Victorian OHS legislation. Whereas, Victorian codes support Victorian legislation and regulations.

In some cases, WorkSafe has considered the content of model Codes of Practice when developing the Victorian codes, where the subject matter or legislative requirements align with Victorian arrangements.

When will the final codes be made available?

It is expected that the final codes will be finalised by December 2017 and the four still under review in 2018.


Can I still refer to the existing compliance codes and codes of practice until the new codes come into effect?

When the OHS regulations 2017 come into effect on 18 June 2017, existing compliance codes will continue to be available as a source of practical guidance and will contribute to state of knowledge to assist those who must comply with health and safety laws.

However, complying with a compliance code made in relation to the OHS Regulations 2007 may not necessarily mean compliance with a duty under the OHS Regulations 2017. 


When can I provide my comments?

Public comment is open for six weeks from 1 May to close of business on Friday 9 June 2017.

How can I make a submission?

There are four ways you can make a submission. Find out how to make a submission through our how to make a submission page.

Will WorkSafe publish my submission?

All non-confidential submissions will be published on this website on the code submissions received page. Please make sure that you advise us in your submission if you would like it to remain confidential and it will not be published.

Do I have to include my name with my submission?

Yes, WorkSafe will only accept submissions that have a name provided. However, WorkSafe will not publish your submission with your name if you request to have it removed before publication. 
You can select to not have your name included in the submission form. If you are submitting on behalf of an organisation, the organisation’s name will be published instead of your name.

What happens after I provide a submission?

WorkSafe will review and consider all submissions received during public comment where appropriate and make changes to the codes to reflect the feedback received before providing them to the Minister for final approval.

Your submission will also be published on our consultation website unless you indicate otherwise. If you’d prefer that your name was not included with your submission, make sure to indicate your preference in the submission form.

How can I get more information?

You can get more information by contacting the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 (free call), Monday to Friday, between 8.30am to 5.00pm. You can also email questions to ohsregsreform@worksafe.vic.gov.au.