Categories
Work Health and Safety

Consultation, Cooperation & Coordination CoP

In this 30-minute session, we look at the Consultation, Cooperation & Coordination Code of Practice (CC&C CoP). We cover the Commonwealth and Model versions of the CoP, appendices & a summary of detailed requirements; and further commentary. This CoP is one of the two that are generally applicable.

This is the three-minute demo of the full, 30-minute video.

Consultation, Cooperation & Coordination CoP: Topics

  • CC&C in the Federal or Commonwealth CoP;
  • Extra CC&C in the Model CoP;
  • (Watch out for Jurisdiction);
  • Further commentary; and
  • Where to get more information.

Consultation, Cooperation & Coordination CoP: Transcript

Click Here for the Transcript

Consultation, Cooperation & Coordination CoP

Hello, everyone, and welcome to The Safety Artisan. I’m Simon and today we’re going to be talking about a very useful subject, which is Codes of Practice. And one Code of Practice in particular, which is the Code of Practice for Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination. And it doesn’t sound like the most exciting subject, I’ll admit, but this is one of only two Codes of Practice that you must be aware of if operating in Australia, or exporting to Australia, or importing stuff to Australia, whatever it might be. The other Code of Practice that you must be aware of is the Risk Management Code of Practice. There are a lot more Code of Practices than these two, but they don’t always apply. So, I mean if you’re not doing anything to do with asbestos, you don’t have to worry about what it says in the Asbestos Code of Practice. But this one you do because it applies to everything.

Topics for this Session

And I’ve used this Code of Practice to help clients and to do particular things and help everybody understand what we have to do, and it’s very useful. And in this session, I will be explaining how to get the best out of this Code of Practice and, at the end, where to get more information. So, I hope you’ll find that useful. So we’re going to be talking about the – I’m just going to call it the C, C & C CoP for short because it’s a dreadful mouthful, isn’t it? We’re going to be looking at the federal or Commonwealth Code of Practice and then we’re going to look at some extras in the Model Code of Practice. So just to explain that briefly, the Model Code of Practice is on the Safe Work Australia website, and that is the Model from which all other CoPs are developed. However, Safe Work Australia is not a regulator. So individual regulators and the example I’m using is the Commonwealth one- or Comcare, as it’s known- they have chosen to edit the Model CoP and change it and remove quite a bit of material. Now, why they chose to do that, I do not know. So, you have to be careful which jurisdiction you’re operating in, in Australia. If you are in a Commonwealth workplace, then you need to apply the Commonwealth or the federal version of WHS, including this CoP. And if you’re in a state or territory workplace, or a commercial workplace in a state or territory, you need to apply the relevant one there. And just to complicate matters, Western Australia has not yet introduced WHS and Victoria has no plans to do so. So, of course, in Australia, we like to make life simple for ourselves, don’t we? Oh no, we don’t!

So after I’ve gone through some basics of what’s in the CoP, because you’ll see there’s an awful lot of material in there that I’m not going to talk about. I produced some commentary that I think you will find helpful and where to get more information, as I promised. So, let’s get on with it!

When to Consult

So, first of all- and you’ll notice that I’m only including those bits really that say when you must do something. So, this is quoting Section 49 of the WHS Act, which says that if you’re conducting a business or some kind of undertaking- so it’s not just a commercial business, but anything- you must consult with your workers when identifying hazards and assessing risks, making decisions about how you’re going to control those risks, making decisions about the adequacy of facilities for welfare, proposing changes that affect health and safety, and making decisions about procedures for consulting with workers, providing information and training, and so on and so forth. So, there’s a whole raft of things that you have to consult your workers on. So, this is all workplace so far. Now, in my role as a safety consultant, I’m often working with people who are introducing they’re buying bits of kit, or designing or importing bits of kit, and there is no work yet, so there’s no workers. But we always try and get a representative of the end-user involved because that really does help you do good quality safety work and avoid- to be honest- wasting time and money on things that are theoretically possible or theoretically sound problematic but in reality, it just doesn’t arise for whatever reason. So, I really do recommend getting those end-user representatives involved.

Effective Consultation

And if we go on to Section 48- for some reason, the cop quotes these things in reverse order- to be effective in consultation, we require information to be shared. Workers have got to have a reasonable opportunity to express their views. They’ve got to have a reasonable opportunity to contribute to decisions. Their views must be taken into account and they must be advised of the outcomes of consultation. So, all good common-sense stuff, I would think. Nothing controversial about this and that- to be honest- that’s a feature of CoPs. They tell you to do things that you think, “Yeah, I really ought to be doing that!”.

Consultation Procedures

Continuing with the countdown, we’re on to Section 47. Consultation procedures, again more basic common sense. If you’ve agreed to procedures for consultation, you must follow those procedures. It’s not rocket science, is it, folks? Let’s move on.

Sections 16 & 46

OK, now this is a bit more interesting, I think. This is getting into the real guts of this Code of Practice because where consultation, cooperation and coordination really come into play is where you’ve got multiple stakeholders, multiple duty holders- that is to say, those with a duty to protect the health and safety of people. Where multiple stakeholders, duty holders, have to get together and work together in order to come up with a solution. So the law says- Section 16 says where more than one person has a duty for the same thing, for the same matter, each person retains that responsibility. You cannot wriggle out of your responsibility just because you only control a bit over here and not over here. So, the two duty holders who have control here and here, they have to work together. The law says so. And so this is really the guts of this Code of Practice. And they must work together to discharge their duties to the extent to which they can. And the extent to which you can is the extent to which you influence and control the matter. So, WHS law is very big about control. If you have control of the bit, you’ve got to do your bit and you must work with people who have control of other things. You might be designing or buying a piece of kit. Other people might control the workplace. There might be another group of people who represent the operators, and then another group who represent the maintainers, and so on and so forth. They’ve all got to be involved if they’re relevant to managing risk. And of course, as risk in WHS is cradle to grave, then pretty much everyone is involved.

So, Section 46, and in these situations where you have got multiple duty holders, each person with a duty must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate and coordinate with all other persons. And I’m going to do a session quite soon on so far as is reasonably practicable, or SOFARP, and in it, I will tell you that SOFARP is an objective test and the law sets objective expectations for what a reasonable person would do. So, you can’t just say, “Well, I’ll decide what is reasonable or not reasonable.”. The law has already done it for you and there’s guidance out there to help you so follow it. So, we will do something on that guidance, about what is reasonable and what is reasonably practicable. But we’ve got to work with each other SOFARP. For the greater good! Sorry, that’s a quote from one of my favourite comedy films, by the way.

CoP Appendices

So, appendices to the CoP. If we look at the appendices in the federal or Commonwealth CoP, there are only three. So, they’ve got some examples of arrangements. They’ve got a consultation checklist, and they’ve got an appendix on C, C and C activities, which is all good. That’s all good stuff. In addition, if you go back to the Model Code of Practice, you will find that there’s also a glossary. Yes, they’ve got the consultation checklist. And then in Appendix E, you’ve got a summary of all the consultation requirements in the WHS regulations, which is really useful. So even if in the CoP that applies to you, your version of the CoP doesn’t have the appendix, I would recommend going and having a look in the Model CoP. And if you’re not aware what you got, if you’ve got a high-risk business, then you’re going to find some extra requirements in the regulations. So, I would go and have a look at Appendix E if you’re doing anything that could kill one or more people. So, if you’re dealing with more serious risks, then I would go and have a look at that just to- as a good lead in to the regulations. If you already know the regulations backwards, then great, you don’t need to bother. But there are over 600 regulations in WHS, so it’s always worth checking up to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Extras in the Model CoP

We’ve kind of started already, but now we’ve really started we’re going to talk about the extras in the Model Code of Practice.

Further Duties of PCBUs

In the modal Code of Practice, we get a reminder that designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers have got safety responsibilities to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the plant’s substance or structure that they are designing, etc, etc, is without risks to health and safety. And they’ve got a duty to carry out testing and analysis and to provide specific safety-related information about plant or substance. So there’s a good reminder in there that we all, wherever we are in the supply chain, we’ve all got these responsibilities. And to assist in meeting these duties, the WHS regulations require manufacturers to consult with designers, importers to consult with designers and manufacturers, and whoever commissions construction work to consult with the designer of the structure, for example. There’s a lot of useful extra pointers in the Model Code of Practice, which may not be in the version that, technically speaking/strictly speaking, you have to follow. So, worth a look.

Officers (of the PCBU)

And then there’s also a reminder to officers of the business or undertaking. Basically, officers says- for example, company directors, those kinds of people, have a duty to exercise due diligence. And you have to go look at due diligence to see what that is. There are basically six bullet points in the act that describe due diligence. Again, it’s all good common-sense stuff. There’s nothing esoteric in there or objectionable. And that due diligence includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that you’ve got appropriate processes for complying with the duty to consult as well as to duty- with workers sorry, as well as consulting, cooperating and coordinating with other duty holders. And there’s further guidance on what’s an officer in that interpretive guideline and under Section 27 of the law.

Principal Contractors

And then here is one I picked out. I’ve not got all of the requirements, but here’s a useful one. There’s a particular regulation, number 309, that says if you’re doing construction work the principal contractor for a construction project has a specific duty under WHS regulations to document in their WHS management plan the arrangements for consultation, cooperation and coordination. Now that’s not unique, as we’ve just seen, to construction, but there is a specific requirement in there for a principal contractor. And WHS assumes a particular structure where you’ve got a prime contractor, or a principal contractor, who is leading the construction for the customer. So, have a look at that. There’s also a CoP on the construction of structures so if you’re in that game you’ll find that useful too.

Major Hazard Facilities

And then I’ve got one slide on major hazard facilities. Now, a major hazard facility, strictly speaking, is a facility where you’ve got enough of a dangerous chemical- and it might be flammable, it might be toxic, it might be explosive, whatever it is. There’s a whole list of chemicals in the regulations and it says if you’ve got so many tons of this or that, you’ve hit the threshold and you are operating a major hazard facility. There’s a whole raft of extra regulations that apply to MHFs. And it says, for example, regulation 552 requires a major facility- sorry, a major hazard facilities safety case outline- so a safety case report by another name- to include a description of the consultation with workers that’s been undertaken in the preparation of the safety case. Again, you’ve got a very specific requirement to consult with workers and to document it. Which, interestingly enough, generally, you don’t have a duty to do that. It’s not mandatory to document consultation. It’s recommended. It’s a good idea but you don’t, strictly speaking, have to do it unless you’re operating an MHF. And as it says there, there’s a whole bunch of regulations that cover consultation about MHFs. But as I said, if you look at Appendix E of the Model Code of Practice, it’s got them all listed, which is very helpful.

Detailed Requirements

A quick word about detailed requirements. Every Code of Practice contains detailed requirements that follow this formula. So, there are three words that indicate a legal requirement that must be complied with. And those three words are ‘must’, ‘requires’- or variations on that word-, and ‘mandatory’. So, any instances of those words- Probably not always, because they occasionally you come across a usage of ‘must’ or ‘requires’ where you go “Actually, that’s just an English use-“ (if you know what I mean)-  “That’s just an English use of those words! It’s not really indicating a mandatory requirement”. But most of them do. So, in the Commonwealth Code of Practice, we have 41 instances of ‘must’. So, you’ve got to comply with those. You have 46 instances of ‘require’ and you’ve got to comply with those by law. Now, interestingly, in the Model Code of Practice, those numbers go up to 71 and 58, respectively. So, there’re a lot more requirements in the Model Code of Practice. So, again, do make sure you’ve got the right Code of Practice that’s been issued by the regulator for your jurisdiction. Because otherwise you might miss something you need to comply with or you might be complying with something that, strictly speaking, you don’t have to. Although, of course, it’s not a bad thing to do that but you don’t have to.

Then there’s the use of the word ‘should’, which is a recommended course of action, and ‘may’, suggests something that is optional. And again, in the Commonwealth Code of Practice, there are 62 instances of ‘should’ and 86 of ‘may’. Although I note that one of those instances of may, at least one, refers to the month of May when that Code of Practice was published. So, you’ve got to go through and make sure that they are relevant. And then it’s slightly more in the Model Code of Practice. It’s 66 and 90, respectively. But the difference is not so great for the mandatory stuff. Now as I’ve said before, and in the risk management Code of Practice, my advice to you is you must comply with ‘musts’ and ‘required’s. ‘Should’ is recommendation so I would suggest complying with that unless you’ve got a good reason not to. In which case, I would document the fact that you’ve got a good reason not to and why you’re not going to. And then ‘may’ is optional. You can do it if you want to and you can record the fact that you’ve considered those things and reject them if you want to but they are only options. So, I think there’s- effectively we’ve got three tiers here. We’ve got ‘must comply’, ‘recommended’, and ‘you can do this if you think it’s a good idea’.

And so the comment at the bottom, CoPs are not huge documents that typically a few tens of pages long. They will repay careful reading because you do have to comply with quite a lot of stuff that’s in there and that’s very clearly signposted, by the way. And also, of course, this particular Code of Practice is very useful for safety management plans. If you’ve got to write a safety management plan and you want to know what you have to include in it, then look in this Code of Practice and look in the Risk Management Code of Practice and make sure you include everything that is mandatory or ‘must’ or ‘requires’ and look at all the other stuff as well. And why not? If the copyright permits you to do so, which it usually does- not always, but usually. If the copyright permits you to do so and just copy and paste the stuff into your plan and then you know that you’ve got what you need. Then you can change the wording if you need to. But it will save you a lot of bother if you’ve got to write a safety management plan. It’ll help you to make sure you’ve got everything you need to and it will save you a lot of effort. So, I recommend that I’ve done that myself.

Commentary #1

I think I’ve just got a couple of slides of commentary. It’s worth reiterating that Codes of Practice are for all Australian industry. Whether it be a sole trader like myself operating out of our study or their garage or something, or whether it be a small operation- a family-run garage or shop, or whether it be the biggest corporation in Australia, whoever that is- if you’re running a major mining operation. So, Codes of Practice provide minimum requirements. These are the things that you must comply with. In high-risk industries, you’re probably going to have to do a lot more. And they do have a workplace application. So, they are written for the workplace. They’re not really written for the designer, manufacturer, importer, supplier, etc. But nevertheless, it is very, very helpful if you are those people to look at the CoP in order to get an idea of what your customers have got to comply with and therefore what you’re going to have to supply.

And as I’ve already said, CoP will repay careful reading because whilst they are guidance, they are really more than guidance. If you are ignorant of CoP and you don’t do what they say you are exposing yourself to prosecution. So, see my introduction to Codes of Practice where I talk about that. There are three reasons why you must be aware of Codes of Practice. And this is one of those two Codes of Practice that everyone must be aware of. The others- if you’re working with asbestos or welding or whatever it might be then there are specific Codes of Practice that you must be aware of for those activities. But this is one of those ones that applies to absolutely everybody, potentially. And as I’ve said before, the Model CoP has more detail than maybe some of the regulator-enforced Codes of Practice, which you will, I think, find helpful for higher risk applications. Whether legally you’ve got an MHF or not.

Commentary #2

And in fact, that’s my point in slide two. So, not everyone is required to have a formal safety management system for managing safety risk in a- while something is in service, while it’s being used. So, this CoP does not require us to have a formal safety management system, but it is required for major hazard facilities. It will be required for large and complex, say, defence systems and facilities and certain regulators do require you to have a safety management system. For example, if you’re operating offshore oil and gas platform, the NOPSEMA regulator requires you to have a formal SMS. As does the national rail regulator. And they’ll require you to follow CENELEC standards and all the other good stuff, depending on exactly what you’re doing. But they will require you to have a formal SMS and there will be others as well. So do check up with your regulator, some of whom are regionally or depending on where you are. Others, depending on whether it’s Commonwealth and others are depending on what kind of thing you do. If you’re in the rail industry or that these particular industries, I’m guessing you probably know already.

But if you don’t or you’re thinking of importing stuff. If you’re based outside of Australia and you want to know how we do things, do look it up. Do look up the regulator and see what they require because it’s the regulator that has the final say. So, do look at standards of good practice and do consult the regulator. It’s perfectly OK to ring up the regulator and ask questions and get them to give you an answer. And a good regulator will work hard in order to achieve clarity and help you to comply and do all the right things. Now, if you don’t have specific requirements from a regulator or you’re just not sure, but you think you’re working in a high-risk area where you could kill one or more people. And by the way, high-risk plant includes stuff like amusement rides and things like that. So, it’s not necessarily, all sort of radiation and poisonous stuff and things. It can be all kinds of stuff.

But if you’ve got the potential to really hurt lots of people, then I do recommend looking at the suite of guidance that is published for major hazard facilities which is excellent. And it will walk you through process, documentation- good things to do. So, if you work in those kinds of industries, do have a look at the MHF guidance because it’s really helpful. As I say, the regulator has the final say, but if you haven’t received any specific guidance I would suggest having a look at the MHF stuff. It’s on the Safe Work Australia website.

Copyright & Attribution

So just to let you know, I’ve quoted information from Safe Work Australia. I’ve also quoted information from the Commonwealth Register of Legislation. And I’ve done so in accordance with the requirements of the copyright license that those organisations impose on people who use their stuff, basically. So, I’ve got the statement there for the Federal Register of Legislation. If you go on the website- on SafetyArtisan.com, you’ll also find the relevant statement for Safe Work Australia or you can go to their website and look at the copyright statement and you will see that I complied with the requirements and been very careful to do so. As I said, you can go to the website and there’s more stuff there.

For More…

And if you want more information, then I heartily recommend that you subscribe to the Safety Artisan channel on YouTube, which is free. And if you do that, every time I issue a new free video- and I do short free versions of all the paid videos as well.- every time one comes up you will receive an email telling you that it’s come out and been released. So, I recommend subscribing.

And for all other lessons and resources, there’s lots of stuff available, please go to www.safetyartisan.com. As you can see, it’s a secure site, so you should be nice and safe browsing there.

End

Well, that is the end of this session on what I have to say on the consultation, cooperation and coordination Code of Practice. But do you remember I haven’t given you all the information you do need to read the CoP still. But hopefully, my- this session will have equipped you to do so effectively and make the best use in the minimum time.

So, all that remains for me to do is to say thank you very much for watching and supporting the Safety Artisan and I’ll see you next time. Goodbye.

End: Consultation, Cooperation & Coordination

Back to the WHS Topic Page.

Categories
Work Health and Safety

Risk Management Code of Practice

In this 40-minute session, we look at the Risk Management Code of Practice (CoP). We cover: who has WHS duties; the four-step process; keeping records, appendices & a summary of detailed requirements; and further commentary. This CoP is one of the two that are generally applicable.

The Risk Management Code of Practice (Demo of the full, 40-minute, video).

Risk Management Code of Practice: Topics

Risk Management Code of Practice (CoP):

  • Who has WHS duties;
  • The four-step process;
  • Keeping records, appendices & summary of detailed requirements;
  • Further commentary; and
  • Where to get more information.

Risk Management Code of Practice: Transcript

Risk Management Code of Practice: Transcript

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Safety Artisan. I’m Simon, your host, and today we’re going to be talking about the Risk Management Code of Practice.

Today we’re talking about the Risk Management Code of Practice. It’s a code of practice that I’ve used myself. I’ve used it to guide my work and to guide other people to help them in their work. I’ve used it to simplify the whole practice of what we do because once you know what you’re supposed to do, you can do that and then you don’t have to worry about working out what you need to do. And conversely, it’s giving you everything you need to do so you can do more if you want to, but you don’t have to. So, it makes life a lot easier and simpler. And then finally, you can use it to justify what you’ve done. That what you’ve done is correct, and what you’ve done is complete and is enough. So, it’s very useful and that’s why I’m teaching it because it makes life easier.

And I’m going to explain how to use it- you’ll still need to go away and read the Code of Practice, as you’ll see, to get all the details – but I’m going to go through the leading particulars and explain how to use it. And then finally, at the end of the session, I’m going to show you where you can get more help on this topic and indeed other related topics because this Code of Practice is one of several. And there’s one other that you must refer to. This Risk Management Code of Practice is one that you really can’t do without. There is one more and then the others are optional, depending on whether you’re working in their respective areas. Anyway, let’s get on with it.

Code of Practice: Risk Management

So we’re talking about the Risk Management Code of Practice, which is under Australian Work Health and Safety Law. Now, if you’re not operating in Australia, this is not a requirement for you but nevertheless, it does contain some very useful guidance. And I’ve seen similar requirements in the US and in the UK, and I suspect all across the English-speaking world.

Topics for this Session

So, what we’re going to cover today. First of all, who has WHS duties because it’s a wider group of people than you might think it is. There’s the four-step process for actually doing risk management. And then I think we’ve got a slide each on keeping records, the appendices in the Code of Practice, and a summary of the detailed requirements in the Code of Practice. Then I’ve provided some further commentary and, as I’ve said before, where to get more information.

Who has WHS Duties?

So, first of all, who has WHS duties? Well, it’s kind of everybody. First of all, if you are a person conducting a business or undertaking or a PCBU for short, then you have duties. And it says business or undertaking, so it includes voluntary groups, non-profit, government, military, you name it. It doesn’t have to be a commercial business. Then you have duties if you are a designer, manufacturer, importer, supplier, or if you install test or commission plant substances or structures. So again, a wide range of people.

And it’s not just about managing safety in a workplace. There’re lots of duties on duty holders with upstream software- sorry not software, upstream safety duties. Like designers and manufacturers. Then finally, officers have additional duties and an officer basically is like a director of a company that sort of level. So, senior management with control over resources and they have to provide due diligence. So, there’s a bunch of requirements on them as well. And then, of course, there’s the workers and any visitors. They’ve got to cooperate and take reasonable care of themselves and look out for each other, which is all very important.

And as it says, and this is a quote from the CoP, “A person can have more than one duty at the same time, and more than one person can share the same duty”. So, you can’t go playing tag, as it were. A sort of a responsibility tag. ‘It wasn’t me. It was him. Governor!’ The court ultimately decides who is responsible.

A Four-Step Process

So, in our four-step process, we have; first of all, we have to identify hazards. We have to assess the risks. So, we need to look at causes and consequences. And the CoP doesn’t say this, but exposure comes into it as well. So, a risk might be present, but if nobody is exposed to that risk, then you can’t hurt them. So, that’s an important point to remember. And controlling exposure is important to one degree or another in almost all areas, but very important in certain industries. Those industries that have got the real estate to be able to separate the risky thing from the human and this is very useful. So step three, we have to control risks. And then step four, we have to review control measures because it’s recognized that these control measures will be in place for some time, for the lifetime of whatever it is we’re doing or undertaking. So, they need to be periodically reviewed and there’s guidance on that.

Now, I keep saying guidance – take a look at the introduction to Codes of Practice and you will see why Codes of Practice are a bit more than guidance. They are guidance that you cannot afford to ignore because if things go wrong, you will get hung out to dry based on what CoP said you should have done. So, if you are ignorant of what CoP said and haven’t done it, then you’re stuffed basically before you even start. That’s point one to note.

And secondly, you’ll notice in the diagram on the left, we’ve got management commitment at the centre and we’ve got consultation all the way around. And there’s another Code of Practice, the Code of Practice on Communication, Cooperation and Coordination . So the C,C&C CoP and that is the other CoP that is essential. So, this one and the C, C and C CoP you must have a look at because they apply to everything in effect. Let’s move on.

Step 1, Identify Hazards

So, first of all, we need to identify hazards. Now, CoP is written for any Australian business or undertaking, so it’s pretty basic. It’s pretty pragmatic, but it’s pretty basic and it’s got a workplace focus. So, it says inspect the workplace, look around, talk to your workers. Now, I work in a business and day job for a consultancy where we, generally speaking, are not looking at an existing workplace, but we’re helping a customer buy or assure a complex product that’s going to come into service at some time in the future. So, there are no current workers to discuss, but we always do try and include end-user representatives in our safety workshops. So, you may not be able to consult workers directly, but you should try and include people who have relevant work experience.

Secondly, the CoP tells us to use good work design and safe design. Now that’s a whole topic in itself and I’ve got some guidance on safe design. If you go to that safety artisan.com page on safe design (www.safetyartisan.com/welcome/safe-design), you will see it and I’ll take you through the subject and refer you on to the source material itself.

Thirdly, we need to consult supply chains and networks. I think that works two ways. First of all, when you get people to supply you stuff, make sure that they supply the data that you need. The safety data, all the information that you need to take and use the product safely. And that’s part of the duty on all of these duty holders, on the designer, the manufacturer, the importer, the supplier. They all have duties to pass on the relevant safety information but make sure you ask for it in your contract. And secondly, suppliers, particularly if you’re buying an expensive piece of kit off them, suppliers can be an excellent source of information. If they’re the designers, then they know this kit better than anybody else. Make use of their expertise, contract them to do some work for you and take part of the load off you. They are best placed to do some of the work, so get them to do it.

And then fourthly, it says review available information. Now, this is very important. There’s historical information or there should be – it’s not always easy to come by sometimes. Do make the effort to get actual historical information for your piece of kit, maybe from the supplier. Or if you can’t do that, if it’s a new piece of kit, then try and get information on similar equipment, or services, or functionality, or go to a trade organization, or go to the regulator depending on what domain you’re in. Do look around for historical information. It is out there. It can be hard to find, but it is worth the effort because, again, the guidance requires it. So, if you don’t do it, if you don’t bother or you’ve not made reasonable efforts to do so, you’ll get clobbered if things go wrong.

And then it’s also advisable to compliment that historical information with diverse approaches. One of them is you can use a hazard checklist approach, and we talk about that in the session on preliminary hazard identification. There are lots of checklists freely available out there on the Internet. Some are general and some are more specific to different pieces of kit or different domains. Try and find the most relevant one for you and use it. And then maybe there are specific safety analyses techniques that you can use as well so have a go at those. And a lot of them are quite simple so don’t be put off. You don’t have to necessarily have to get an expensive consultant in to do this for you. A lot of these techniques are really quite simple and just require a bit of imagination and a little bit of self-discipline in the way you go about it. And I talk about analysis methods for hazard identification in that same session on Preliminary Hazard Identification (PHI).  

So, that’s identifying hazards.

Step 2, Assess Risks

Step two, we need to assess the risks. So, if we recall risk is a combination of likelihood and severity. So, how likely is the harm could arise? And how severe is that harm? The way to do that, the CoP says, is to work out how hazards may cause harm. And as always, don’t be afraid to ask the dumb questions. That’s part of my job as a consultant. You’re allowed to turn up and ask dumb questions. Or maybe sensitive questions that nobody in the firm dares to ask because they think they get fired. So, be brave and do try and work out how to ask the questions in a non-threatening way, but do ask the questions.

Work out how severe the harm could be. What is the worst credible consequence? And also, to keep it simple, what’s the worst direct consequence? Yes, you can come up with a fanciful chain of events that will lead to ‘it’s the end of the world as we know it’, but keep it direct would be my advice. At least to start with. It’s better to get a range of stuff than to work one scenario to the nth degree, I would suggest.

Then work out the likelihood of that harm occurring. Very often the most severe harm can only occur when there is a particular combination of circumstances. And if you read any kind of accident report, even in the press, you’ll very often say this was happening and it just so happened on this particular day that somebody wasn’t available to supervise and then this went wrong and something else went wrong. And then the final result of this chain of consequences was somebody gets hurt. So, do factor in all of those things.

There are probably lots of existing controls already unless you’re doing something very novel indeed, which is unusual. So, do look at what’s there and record it all. Conversely, do be aware of the ‘it will never happen brigade’ is I’ve met several people who say, ‘Oh, that will never happen; or was it ‘No British pilot would be stupid enough to do that. Ho, ho, ho.’ I was foolish enough to believe that. Anyway, that’s another story. So, don’t believe the people who say, ‘It can never happen’. Well, if I say, ‘OK, what’s the justification? Why can it never happen? Where’s the evidence for that claim?’ So, do dig into those responses.

There’s more detail in the Code of Practice. There are some good questions to ask in the workplace. And with a bit of imagination, you can take your imaginary piece of kit and sort of think about it in the workplace and go, ‘Well, let’s think up a suitable question.’ So, there’s good guidance in there. Historical data can’t be beat as a reality check and it shuts up the naysayers as well because if you can pull out information, say, ‘Well this accident has happened and it’s happened lots of times to lots of good people who thought they were clever’. So, it shuts up the naysayers do work hard to get the historical data. It’s fantastic if you can get it.

And then, as I said before, there are multiple specialist cause and consequence analysis techniques available. I talk about some of them and in other posts that I’ve already done, and I will talk about more in the future. But you may not need that level of sophistication. It’s always better to do some good basic work as early as you can. Then maybe if you come up against something and say, ‘We’re not cracking this. We suspect there’s a problem, but we can’t be sure’ then think about bringing out big guns. But if you’ve done the basic work first, that will really help you zero in on the areas where you think you need to do more work.

Step 3, Control Risks

The third one, controlling risks. Really, this is what it’s all about because you can do all the analysis you like, but you don’t do analysis for the sake of it. You do analysis in order to inform your selection of risk controls. And we are required to use a hierarchy of control measures, and that’s a legal requirement in Australia. It’s also a requirement in other jurisdictions and in other many other standards – safety standards that you’ll see it just may not be called this. But it will talk about more and less effective controls.

At the top of the control hierarchy, we’ve got the most effective control which is to eliminate the risk entirely. And by that, I mean you get rid of it. Let’s say you’re working in an explosive atmosphere and you’ve decided you don’t want any electrical devices in that explosive atmosphere. So, if you need to have power for machinery, you’re going to do it with pneumatics, let’s say, or hydraulics. So, you’ve eliminated the electrical risk. Elimination does not mean massaging the probability figures to get them very low and then you have eliminated the risk you have not. You’ve just played games with probability figures. So first off, that’s what elimination really means.

The second level, you’ve got three choices. We can substitute something hazardous with a safer alternative. I’ve mentioned getting rid of electricity entirely. You could say, ‘Well, I’ve got hydraulics, but they can burst and cause damage so I’ll have something else. Or let’s say there was a particular lubricant, which is ideal, but actually it’s quite dangerous this lubricant, so we’ll pick something safer. Maybe it doesn’t perform quite as well. Or a refrigerant, let’s say, an ideal refrigerant might be a potent greenhouse gas so we go ‘We’re going to have something else instead’.

You can isolate the hazard from people – I’ve spoken about that before. Some industries you’ve got a lot of real estate to play with. You can keep the hazard away from people. Or you can reduce the risk through engineering controls. And by engineering controls, I mean, you can build a safety feature or an interlock or something physically into the product. You’re not relying on a person to avoid the risk. It’s been done for them. It’s automatic or built-in.

At third level, we can use admin controls. So we can give people procedures and rules and we can say, ‘Do this, don’t do that’. And most of the time they’ll probably do it and obey the rules, but sometimes they won’t. And sometimes for good reason, by the way, because people come up with ridiculous rules that can’t be obeyed or that make the task or the job so difficult that people break the rules all the time because that’s the only way to get the job done effectively. So, do be aware of putting silly controls onto people because they won’t get obeyed. It’s your responsibility to consult the workers and come up with something practical.

And then finally, we can use personal protective equipment. Now that doesn’t do anything to the probability of the accident, but it reduces the severity. So, for example, if I’m wearing a hard hat, something falls on my head. It reduces the severity of the accident. If I’m wearing protective goggles and there’s a spark or a piece of debris flies out of the machine. If I’m wearing the goggles, it just bounces off probably and saves my eyes. So, there’s a couple of really good examples of where the PPE will help us. And of course, in this season of COVID, we’ve all got PPE bonkers. It’s become headline news all over the world. So, we all now know what PPE is, which is great. Well, and it’s not great. It’s terrible, but it’s good for knowledge.

So, we have to work through that hierarchy in that order. We have to see whether it’s feasible to eliminate the risk to start at the top with the most effective controls and work our way down. We have to do that. And the subject of another chat, another lesson, we have to apply all reasonably practical controls in order to say that we have eliminated or minimized risks SFARP. So far as is reasonably practicable. So, we’ve got to apply all reasonably practical controls. I’ll explain exactly what that means in a separate session.

Aside: Control Effectiveness

A Quick aside: are controls effective? I’ve sort of hinted at this before about the admin stuff. How do we get effective controls? Well, the CoP says we need people to be accountable for health and safety. We need maintenance of plant and equipment. We need up to date training and competency for our people. We need up to date hazard information – that’s a duty in its own right. And we need regular review and consultation. And you’ll find out about that in the CC&C CoP in my next lesson.

Now, these things are required everywhere, they can be achieved informally. If you work in a high-risk industry, you’ll probably have a thing called a safety management system. And your safety management system will be documented in a safety management plan. And typically, the safety management system is the thing that delivers all of these things, all five of these things and much more. So, that’s what you’ll probably end up doing.

First thing to say on that, of course, is that this information has got to be generated. You’ve got to get it from source and it’s usually the designer, the manufacturer, and the installer, and the testers who can provide this information. So, do make sure that you are imposing requirements on your suppliers, on your subcontractors to do this stuff and to provide you with the information. It is their duty to do so. It’s a legal duty, but you’re probably still going to have to pay for it and say when you want it and in what format that’s most useful to you and all the other good stuff.

Step 4, Reviewing Controls

Step four, which is maybe not so obvious. We’ve got some controls, we’re up and running, we need to review those controls. Well, why would we review them? First of all, if you’ve discovered that the control measure is not effective. So, you might have had some incident data., you might’ve had some near misses. Or you might have some reliability data that says ‘My control isn’t as reliable as I thought it was going to be’. But of course, to be aware of that, you’ve got to be collecting this information and you’ve got to be on the lookout for it.

So, you do need a workable incident reporting system and you do need to encourage people to use it and use it either anonymously or honestly. So, that’s where a good safety culture comes in, where you do not punish people for telling the truth. Where you encourage and reward them for the reporting stuff and making things better, you champion. And that’s where management commitment comes in.

The other point where the guidance says you have to do it is if you’re making any kind of change that’s likely to alter or give rise to new risks and you suspect that the existing control measures may not be effective. So, you’re going to make some kind of change – you’ve got to review what you’re doing. But of course, how would the PCBU know that unless they’d actually sort of basically documented the baseline situation? So, you’ve got to have some kind of control over your workplace or over your product or functionality to know what your current situation is and to know that a change is coming. You’ve got to have some kind of baseline control and change control to be able to do that. As I say, it doesn’t have to be that complicated, you just control what goes on at the workplace.

You’ve got to do it if you’ve identified a new hazard or risk. Once you’ve identified something, you’ve got to kind of start from scratch. But that’s okay because hopefully, you’ve already got all of the background analysis that you’ve done. So, you know what you’ve done in the past and therefore you can spot what the delta is. I’m anticipating the record-keeping, but this is where good record keeping really helps you when it comes to managing change. Because if you’ve documented the baseline and understand it, change is relatively straightforward.

Another reason, maybe you’ve consulted with workers or health and safety representatives and you’ve discovered those consultations suggest that a review is necessary. Or maybe a health and safety representative requests a review. In that case, you need to do one.

So those are the five cases where you must conduct a review of controls in order to keep things safe. And very often that’s how accidents occur. We start pretty well and then over a period of time, maybe years or decades, slowly our performance degrades over time or we get a bit blasé about stuff because we’ve never had a problem or so we think. If you’ve got poor incident and near-miss reporting, you won’t be aware of the problems that are happening. So, things slide over time so maybe it’s a good idea to have a periodic review even if you haven’t had any of these triggers. So, that’s a good idea as well. I don’t think it’s in the Code of Practice, but it’s sensible.

Keeping Records

Those are the four steps. Now let’s talk about these three other things, the first of which is keeping records. As it says, keeping records demonstrates what you have done. So, if you have a problem and the regulator comes round to inspect you or maybe even consider shutting you down or issuing a notice to improve or prohibition, then the fact that you’ve got some documentation is going to help you. And also helps you with downstream risk management activities, as I’ve just said.

Then also, there are some specific recordkeeping requirements for particular hazards. So, if you’re exposing people to noise or certain chemicals that may accumulate in the body, then you’re almost certainly going to have to have a monitoring program and a tracking program to keep an eye on this stuff and monitor people’s exposure. So, if you if you’ve got those particular hazards, then there’s going to be some very specific requirements on you that you have to meet and you must keep the records for the time periods required. In general, I would advise keeping the records for at least the life of the system, equipment service, whatever it is, and then a few years afterwards. Just in case there’s an issue that emerges later on. Exactly what you do is up to you.

And from a pragmatic point of view, I would say from experience precision and clarity in record-keeping is so important. Work hard on precision. It might sound like you’re being a bit anal about the way you record stuff if you feel you’re overdoing it, believe me, you are not. Make it simple. Make it crystal clear what you mean. Be very specific and precise as you can and then your records will be a lot more use. I put my hand up and say I’ve written stuff down and then a couple of years or even a few months later, I’ve gone back to something I’ve written down and thought, ‘What did I mean by that?’ Ambiguity is very easy to achieve so write some stuff down. Get somebody else to independently look at it for you and say’ What do you understand that to mean?’ Because English, unfortunately, is a very ambiguous language, very flexible.

Appendices

So, going back to the CoP, in particular, there are four appendices to the CoP. First of all, in A there’s a glossary of terms, which is very useful. Appendix B, we got some examples of a risk management process. Appendix C, there’s some help and guidance on assessing how things can go wrong. And then in Appendix D, there is a sample format blank risk register for you to use if you haven’t got anything else. And all of these examples and appendices, they are simple. They are workplace focused. As I say, if you work in a high-risk domain, maritime, aviation, you work with flammable chemicals or a big industrial plant, the CoP is not going to be sophisticated enough for your use. You’re going to have to meet and exceed it but you’re probably going to be using a standard that requires far more than what the CoP asks for. And that’s okay.

Detailed Requirements

But looking at it the other way around, the CoP is where everybody needs to start and there are some detailed requirements in each Code of Practice. And in this one, the words ‘must’, ‘requires’ or ‘mandatory’ tell you that there is a legal requirement that must be complied with. There are 35 ‘musts’, 39 ‘required’ of various kinds, and three instances are ‘mandatory’ in this Code of Practice. So, you’ve got to obey them.

Then there’s the word ‘should’, which indicates a recommended course of action and ‘may’ is an option. There are 43 ‘shoulds’ in this document and 82 ‘mays’. Again, my advice would be if it’s a ‘should’, I would do it unless you’ve got a reason not to. In which case you should probably write down why you’re not doing it. And that’s perfectly okay. If it isn’t going to work in your circumstances, or you don’t think it’s reasonable to do something, or you’ve got another way of doing it, which is better. Great. Do that, write it down.

And then the ‘mays’ are options so if you think they’re going to be useful and helpful, do it. If not, you don’t have to. There’re the different levels of compliance that you’ve got in the Code of Practice. And those three levels are in all the Codes of Practice.

Commentary

So, I’ve gone through what’s in the Code of Practice, I’m just going to give you a brief resumé of what I think is good advice based on personal and practical experience. I’ve said it already, but a quick reminder, Code of Practice provide minimum requirements. So, you do need to start with CoP and probably as the risk gets higher in whatever industry you’re in, you need to do more with higher-risk or to manage higher-risk.

It does have a workplace focus, so it isn’t a lot to use if you’re a designer and you’re trying to work out ‘What safety margins do I need? I need to do a design trade-off’. I know I’ve sort of leaked into the final point. The CoP won’t help you do that. You’ll need a more sophisticated approach, probably based on standards and tolerability. So, the CoP won’t help you with this sophisticated design decisions and trade-offs, and how much margin is enough. You’re probably going to have to go to standards and industry good practice for that.

And, really, what we’re now talking about is, are the risks are SFARP. Have we done everything that’s reasonably practicable? So first of all, have we done enough? Look at the definition of reasonably practicable, which is in Section 18 of the WHS Act. And if you look at that definition, you’ll find that it is a risk assessment process. So, by following the risk management CoP, the risk assessment process, you will have inherently begun to address SFARP. And you need to do that to demonstrate that you reduce risks SFARP. Then deciding how much is enough, well that depends on the particular risk. A simple approach may suffice and for most instances, for some risks can have to do some more sophisticated work. Which will take you beyond the bounds of the CoP.

And then the last point I’m going to make is the Codes of Practice, not just this one but all of them will repay careful reading. There are some detailed requirements in there and they contain lots of good, sensible, pragmatic advice. And if you have to write a safety management plan or a hazard management plan, then do go to CoP and steal the wording. Don’t make stuff up when you don’t have to. If the CoP tells you what to do and that’s part of your solution just copy and paste it. Use it – you’re allowed to!

Do pay attention to the copyright where you go to do make sure you get the right version of CoP for your jurisdiction. So, if it’s a federal workplace you need the Commonwealth version of CoP. If it’s commercial, then you probably state and territory. So, go to the correct regulator’s website, find the right CoP. You will probably find that the copyright allows you to copy and paste absolutely everything out of the CoP. So, do that and save yourself some work. And also, if you’ve done that it’s very easy to demonstrate that you’ve met the requirements of CoP because you’ve copied them. What could be easier? Save yourself some hassle.

As a consultant, I never make up anything unless I can’t possibly avoid it. So, do use the stuff out there because CoP has been developed for you by a bunch of people in consultation. Lots of people have put a lot of hard work into coming up with a good CoP, which is authorised by the relevant government minister. So, use it, don’t ignore it. It’s there to help you.

Copyright & Attribution

Now, I’ve mentioned that you can dig this stuff out of the right website, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. So, any words that you see in italics, in speech marks, I have lifted from the Federal Register of legislation and I’m allowed to do so under the terms of the Creative Commons license. And as part of the terms of that license, I’m required to tell you that I got this stuff on the 15th of August 2020. But you should always go to the www.legislation.gov.au website to check that you’re using the latest version. Don’t rely on what I’ve said, go and check you using the latest version. And for more information on what you can and can’t do with this Creative Commons license, I’ve got a page at the Safety Artisan that sets out what my obligations are and you’ll be able to see that I’ve met them.

For More…

And then for more information, if you’d like to get free video lessons on safety and free previews of paid content, do please go look at the Safety Artisan channel on YouTube and hit that subscribe- Yes, please! And you will then be informed of whenever a new video comes out which you believe you will find very helpful. And then for all lessons and resources, you can go to www.safetyartisan.com. And as you can see, it’s a secure website, so you’re safe to browse there. Go and have a look at the stuff that’s on there. This lesson is there, as are many others.

End

So that’s the end of our lesson for today, and we’ve gone on for almost 40 minutes. That’s because there’s a lot of good stuff out there to talk about. So just remains me to say thanks very much for tuning in and bothering to listen to this. Thank you for supporting the Safety Artisan. Your subscription, your money, enables me to carry on doing this stuff, and I hope you and many others will find it helpful. So, thanks very much. Bye-bye.

End: Risk Management Code of Practice

You can find the Model Code of Practice here.  Back to the Topics Page.

Categories
Start Here Work Health and Safety

Introduction to WHS Codes of Practice

In the 30-minute session, we introduce Australian WHS Codes of Practice (CoP). We cover: What they are and how to use them; their Limitations; we List (Federal) codes; provide Further commentary; and Where to get more information. This session is a useful prerequisite to all the other sessions on CoP.

Codes of Practice: Topics

  • What they are and how to use them;
  • Limitations;
  • List of CoP (Federal);
  • Further commentary; and
  • Where to get more information.

Codes of Practice: Transcript

Click Here for the Transcript

Hello and welcome to the Safety Artisan, where you will find professional, pragmatic, and impartial teaching and resources on all thing’s safety. I’m Simon and today is the 16th of August 2020. Welcome to the show.

Introduction

So, today we’re going to be talking about Codes of Practice. In fact, we’re going to be introducing Codes of Practice and the whole concept of what they are and what they do.

Topics for this Session

What we’re going to cover is what Codes of Practice are and how to use them – several slides on that; a brief word on their limitations; a list of federal codes of practice – and I’ll explain why I’m emphasizing it’s the list of federal ones; some further commentary and where to get more information. So, all useful stuff I hope.

CoP are Guidance

So, Codes of Practice come in the work, health and safety hierarchy below the act and regulations. So, at the top you’ve got the WHS Act, then you’ve got the WTS regulations, which the act calls up. And then you’ve got the Codes of Practice, which also the act calls up. We’ll see that in a moment. And what Codes of Practice do are they provide practical guidance on how to achieve the standards of work, health and safety required under the WHS act and regulations, and some effective ways to identify and manage risks. So, they’re guidance but as we’ll see in a moment, they’re much more than guidance. So, as I said, the Codes of Practice are called up by the act and they’re approved and signed off by the relevant minister. So, they are a legislative instrument.

Now, a quick footnote. These words, by the way, are in the introduction to every Code of Practice. There’s a little note here that says we’re required to consider all risks associated with work, not just for those risks that have associated codes of practice. So, we can’t hide behind that. We’ve got to think about everything. There are codes of practice for several things, but not everything. Not by a long way.

…Guidance We Should Follow

Now, there are three reasons why Codes of Practice are a bit more than just guidance. So, first of all, they are admissible in court proceedings. Secondly, they are evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk, risk assessment, risk control. And thirdly, courts may rely, or regulators may rely, on Codes of Practice to determine what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances to which the code applies. So, what’s the significance of that?

So first of all, the issue about being admissible. If you’re unfortunate enough to go to court and be accused of failing under WHS law, then you will be able to appeal to a Code of Practice in your defence and say, “I complied with the Code of Practice”. They are admissible in court proceedings. However, beyond that, all bets are off. It’s the court that decides what is anadmissible defence, and that means lawyers decide, not engineers. Now, given that you’re in court and the incident has already happened a lot of the engineering stuff that we do about predicting the probability of things is no longer relevant. The accident has happened. Somebody has got hurt. All these probability arguments are dust in your in the wake of the accident. So, Codes of Practice are a reliable defence.

Secondly, the bit about evidence of what is known is significant, because when we’re talking about what is reasonably practicable, the definition of reasonably practicable in Section 18 of the WHS act talks about what it is reasonable or what should have been known when people were anticipating the risk and managing it. Now, given that Codes of Practice were published back in 2012, there’s no excuse for not having read them. So, they’re pre –existing, they’re clearly relevant, the law has said that they’re admissible in court. We should have read them, and we should have acted upon them. And there’ll be no wriggling out of that. So, if we haven’t done something that CoP guided us to do, we’re going to look very vulnerable in court.  Or in the whatever court of judgment we’re up against, whether it be public opinion or trial by media or whatever it is.

And thirdly, some CoP can be used to help determine what is SOFARP. So in some circumstances, if you’re dealing with a risk that’s described a CoP, CoP is applicable. Then if you followed everything in CoP, then you might be able to claim that just doing that means that you’ve managed the risk SFARP. Why is that important? Because the only way we are legally allowed to expose people to risk is if we have eliminated or minimized that risk so far as is reasonably practicable, SFARP. That is the key test, the acid test, of “Have we met our risk management obligations? “And CoP are useful, maybe crucial, in two different ways for determining what is SFARP. So yes, they’re guidance but it’s guidance that we ignore at our peril.

Standards & Good Practice

So, moving on. Codes of Practice recognize, and I reemphasize this is in the introduction to every code of practice, they’re not the only way of doing things. There isn’t a CoP for everything under the sun. So, codes recognize that you can achieve compliance with WHS obligations by using another method as long as it provides an equivalent or higher standard of work, health and safety than the code. It’s important to recognize that Codes of Practice are basic. They apply to every business and undertaking in Australia potentially. So, if you’re doing something more sophisticated, then probably CoP on their own are not enough. They’re not good enough.

And in my day job as a consultant, that’s the kind of stuff we do. We do planes, trains and automobiles. We do ships and submarines. We do nuclear. We do infrastructure. We do all kinds of complex stuff for which there are standards and recognized good practice which go way beyond the requirements of basic Codes of Practice. And many I would say, probably most, technical and industry safety standards and practices are more demanding than Codes of Practice. So, if you’re following an industry or technical standard that says “Here’s a risk management process”, then it’s likely that that will be far more detailed than the requirements that are in Codes of Practice.

And just a little note to say that for those of us who love numbers and quantitative safety analysis, what this statement about equivalent or higher standards of health and safety is talking about  –We want requirements that are more demanding and more rigorous or more detailed than CoP. Not that the end –result in the predicted probability of something happening is better than what you would get with CoP because nobody knows what you would get with CoP. That calculation hasn’t been done. So, don’t go down the rabbit hole of thinking “I’ve got a quantitatively demonstrate that what we’re doing is better than CoP.” You haven’t. It’s all about demonstrating the input requirements are more demanding rather than the output because that’s never been done for CoP. So, you’ve got no benchmark to measure against in output terms.

The primacy of WHS & Regulations

A quick point to note that Codes of Practice, they are only guidance. They do refer to relevant WHS act and regulations, the hard obligations, and we should not be relying solely on codes in place of what it says in the WHS Act or the regulations. So, we need to remember that codes are not a substitute for the act or the regs. Rather they are a useful introduction. WHS ACT and regulations are actually surprisingly clear and easy to read. But even so, there are 600 regulations. There are hundreds of sections of the WHS act. It’s a big read and not all of it is going to be relevant to every business, by a long way. So, if you see a CoP that clearly applies to something that you’re doing, start with the cop. It will lead you into the relevant parts of WHS act and regulations. If you don’t know them, have a read around in there around the stuff that – you’ve been given the pointer in the CoP, follow it up.

But also, CoP do represent a minimum level of knowledge that you should have. Again, start with CoP, don’t stop with them. So, go on a bit. Look at the authoritative information in the act and the regs and then see if there’s anything else that you need to do or need to consider. The CoP will get you started.

And then finally, it’s a reference for determining SOFARP. You won’t see anything other than the definition of reasonably practicable in the Act. You won’t see any practical guidance in the Act or the regulations on how to achieve SOFARP. Whereas CoP does give you a narrative that you can follow and understand and maybe even paraphrase if you need to in some safety documentation. So, they are useful for that. There’s also guidance on reasonably practicable, but we’ll come to that at the end.

Detailed Requirements

It’s worth mentioning that there are some detailed requirements in codes. Now, when I did this, I think I was looking at the risk management Code of Practice, which will go through later in another session. But in this example, there are this many requirements. So, every CoP has the statement “The words ‘must’, ‘requires’, or ‘mandatory’ indicate a legal requirement exists that must be complied with.” So, if you see ‘must’, ‘requires’, or ‘mandatory’, you’ve got to do it. And in this example CoP that I was looking at, there are 35 ‘must’s, 39 ‘required’ or ‘requirement’ – that kind of wording – and three instances of ‘mandatory’. Now, bearing in mind the sentence that introduces those things contains two instances of ‘must’ and one of ‘requires’ and one of ‘mandatory’. So, straight away you can ignore those four instances. But clearly, there are lots of instances here of ‘must’ and ‘require’ and a couple of ‘mandatory’.

Then we’ve got the word ‘should’ is used in this code to indicate a recommended course of action, while ‘may’ is used to indicate an optional course of action. So, the way I would suggest interpreting that and this is just my personal opinion – I have never seen any good guidance on this. If it says ‘recommended’, then personally I would do it unless I can justify there’s a good reason for not doing it. And if it said ‘optional’, then I would consider it. But I might discard it if I felt it wasn’t helpful or I felt there was a better way to do it. So, that would be my personal interpretation of how to approach those words. So, ‘recommended’ – do it unless you can justify not doing it. ‘Optional’ – Consider it, but you don’t have to do it.

And in this particular one, we’ve got 43 instances of ‘should’ and 82 of ‘may’. So, there’s a lot of detailed information in each CoP in order to consider. So, read them carefully and comply with them where you have to work and that will repay you. So, a positive way to look at it, CoP are there to help you. They’re there to make life easy for you. Read them, follow them. The negative way to look at them is, ”I don’t need to do all this says in CoP because it’s only guidance”. You can have that attitude if you want. If you’re in the dock or in the witness box in court, that’s not going to be a good look. Let’s move on.

Limitations of CoP

So, I’ve talked CoP up quite a lot; as you can tell, I’m a fan because I like anything that helps us do the job, but they do have limitations. I’ve said before that there’s a limited number of them and they’re pretty basic. First of all, it’s worth noting that there are two really generic Codes of Practice. First of all, there’s the one on risk management. And then secondly, there’s the one on communication, consultation and cooperation. And I’ll be doing sessions on both of those. Now, those apply to pretty much everything we do in the safety world. So, it’s essential that you read them no matter what you’re doing and comply with them where you have to.

Then there are other codes of practice that apply to specific activities or hazards, and some of them are very, very specific, like getting rid of asbestos, or welding, or spray painting – or whatever it might be – shock blasting. Those have clearly got a very narrow focus. So, you will know if you’re doing that stuff. So, if you are doing welding and clearly you need to read the welding CoP. If welding isn’t part of your business or undertaking, you can forget it.

However, overall, there are less than 25 Codes of Practice. I can’t be more precise for reasons that we will come to in a moment. So, there’s a relatively small number of CoP and they don’t cover complex things. They’re not going to help you design a super –duper widget or some software or anything like that. It’s not going to help you do anything complicated. Also, Codes of Practice tend to focus on the workplace, which is understandable. They’re not much help when it comes to design trade –offs. They’re great for the sort of foundational stuff. Yes, we have to do all of this stuff regardless. When you get to questions of, “How much is enough?” Sometimes in safety, we say, “How much margin do I need?” “How many layers of protection do I need?” “Have I done enough?” CoP aren’t going to be a lot of use helping you with that kind of determination but you do need to have made sure you’ve done everything CoP first and then start thinking about those trade –offs, would be my advice. You’re less likely to go wrong that way. So, start with your firm basis of what you have to do to comply and then think “What else could I do?”

List of CoP (Federal) #1

Now for information, you’ve got three slides here where we’ve got a list of the Codes of Practice that apply at the federal or Commonwealth level of government in Australia. So, at the top highlighted I’ve already mentioned the ‘how’ to manage WHS risks and the consultation, cooperation, and coordination codes. Then we get into stuff like abrasive, blasting, confined spaces, construction and demolition and excavation, first aid. So, quite a range of stuff, covered.

List of CoP (Federal) #2

Hazardous manual tasks – so basically human beings carrying and moving stuff. Managing and controlling asbestos, and removing it. Then we’ve got a couple on hazardous chemicals on this page, electrical risks, managing noise, preventing hearing loss, and stevedoring. There you go. So, if you’re into stevedoring, then this CoP is for you. The highlighted ones we’re going to cover in later sessions.

List of CoP (Federal) #3

Then we’ve got managing risk of Plant in the workplace. There was going to be a Code of Practice for the design of Plant, but that never saw the light of day so we’ve only got guidance on that. We’ve got falls, environment, work environment, and facilities. We’ve got another one on safety data sheets for another one on hazardous chemicals, preventing falls in housing – I guess because that’s very common accident – safe design of structures, spray painting and powder coating, and welding processes. So, those are the list of – I think it’s 24 – Codes of Practice are applied by Comcare, the federal regulator.

Commentary #1

Now, I’m being explicit about which regulator and which set of CoP, because they vary around Australia. Basically, the background was the model Codes of Practice were developed by Safe Work Australia, which is a national body. But those model Codes of Practice do not apply. Safe Work Australia is not a regulator. Codes of Practice are implemented or enforced by the federal government and by most states and territories. And it says with variations for a reason. Not all states and territories impose all codes of practice. For example, I live in South Australia and if you go and look at the WorkSafe South Australia website or Safe Work – whatever it’s called – you will see that there’s a couple of CoP that for some reason we don’t enforce in South Australia. Why? I do not know. But you do need to think about these things depending on where you’re operating.

It’s also worth saying that WHS is not implemented in every state in Australia. Western Australia currently have plans to implement WHS, but as of 2020 but I don’t believe they’ve done so yet. Hopefully, it’s coming soon. And Victoria, for some unknown reason, have decided they’re just not going to play ball with everybody else. They’ve got no plans to implement WHS that I can find online. They’re still using their old OHS legislation. It’s not a universal picture in Australia, thanks to our rather silly version of government that we have here in Australia – forget I said that. So, if it’s a Commonwealth workplace and we apply the federal version of WHS and Codes of Practice. Otherwise, we use state or territory versions and you need to see the local regulator’s Web page to find out what is applied where. And the definition of a Commonwealth workplace is in the WHS Act, but also go and have a look at the Comcare website to see who Comcare police. Because there are some nationalised industries that count as a Commonwealth workplace and it can get a bit messy.

So, sometimes you may have to ask for advice from the regulator but go and see what they say. Don’t rely on what consultants say or what you’ve heard on the grapevine. Go and see what the regulator actually says and make sure it’s the right regulator for where you’re operating.

Commentary #2

What’s to come? I’m going to do a session on the Risk Management Code of Practice, and I’m also, associated with that, going to do a session on the guidance on what is reasonably practicable. Now that’s guidance, it’s not a Code of Practice. But again, it’s been published so we need to be aware of it and it’s also very simple and very helpful. I would strongly recommend looking at that guidance if you’re struggling with SFARP for what it means, it’s very good. I’ll be talking about that soon. Also, I’m going to do a session on tolerability of risk, because you remember when I said “CoP aren’t much good for helping you do trade–offs in design” and that kind of thing. They’re really only good for simple stuff and compliance. Well, what you need to understand to deal with the more sophisticated problems is the concept of tolerability of risk. That’ll help us do those things. So, I’m going to do a session on that.

I’m also going to do a session on consultation, cooperation, and coordination, because, as I said before, that’s universally applicable. If we’re doing anything at a workplace, or with stuff that’s going to a workplace, that we need to be aware of what’s in that code. And then I’m also going to do sessions on plant, structures and substances (or hazardous chemicals) because those are the absolute bread and butter of the WHS Act. If you look at the duties of designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers, and installers, et cetera, you will find requirements on plant, substances and structures all the way through those clauses in the WHS Act. Those three things are key so we’re going to be talking about that.

Now, I mentioned before that there was going to be a Code of Practice on plant design, but it never made it. It’s just guidance. So, we’ll have a look at that if we can as well – Copyright permitting. And then I want to look at electrical risks because I think the electrical risks code is very useful. Both for electrical risks, but it’s also a useful teaching vehicle for designers and manufacturers to understand their obligations, especially if you operate abroad and you want to know, or if you’re importing stuff “Well, how do I know that my kit can be safely used in Australia?” So, if you can’t do the things that the electrical risk CoP requires in the workplace if your piece of kit won’t support that, then it’s going to be difficult for your customers to comply. So, probably there’s a hint there that if you want to sell your stuff successfully, here’s what you need to be aware of. And then that applies not just to electrical, I think it’s a good vehicle for understanding how CoP can help us with our upstream obligations, even though CoP applies to a workplace. That session will really be about the imaginative use of Code of Practice in order to help designers and manufacturers, etc.

And then I want to also talk about noise Code of Practice, because noise brings in the concept of exposure standards. Now, generally, Codes of Practice don’t quote many standards. They’re certainly not mandatory, but noise is one of those areas where you have to have standards to say, “this is how we’re going to measure the noise”. This is the exposure standard. So, you’re not allowed to expose people to more than this. That brings in some very important concepts about health monitoring and exposure to certain things. Again, it’ll be useful if you’re managing noise but I think that session will be useful to anybody who wants to understand how exposure standards work and the requirements for monitoring exposure of workers to certain things. Not just noise, but chemicals as well. We will be covering a lot of that in the session(s) on HAZCHEM.

Copyright & Attribution

I just want to mention that everything in quotes/in italics is downloaded from the Federal Register of Legislation, and I’ve gone to the federal legislation because I’m allowed to reproduce it under the license, under which it’s published. So, the middle paragraph there – I’m required to point that out that I sourced it from the Federal Register of legislation, the website on that date. And for the latest information, you should always go to the website to double–check that the version that you’re looking at is still in force and is still relevant. And then for more information on the terms of the license, you can go and see my page at the www.SafetyArtisan.com because I go through everything that’s required and you can check for yourself in detail.

For More…

Also, on the website, there’s a lot more lessons and resources, some of them free, some of them you have to pay to access, but they’re all there at www.safetyartisan.com. Also, there’s the Safety Artisan page at www.patreon.com/SafetyArtisan where you will see the paid videos. And also, I’ve got a channel on YouTube where the free videos are all there. So, please go to the Safety Artisan channel on YouTube and subscribe and you will automatically get a notification when a new free video pops up.

End

And that brings me to the end of the presentation, so thanks very much for listening. I’m just going to stop sharing that now. It just remains for me to say thank you very much for tuning in and I look forward to sharing some more useful information on Codes of Practice with you in the next session in about a month’s time. Cheers now, everybody. Goodbye.

There’s more!

You can find the Model WHS Codes of Practice here. Back to the Topics Page.

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Start Here Work Health and Safety

Comparing Australian & UK Safety Law

Comparing Australian & UK Safety Law. Are you a safety professional thinking of emigrating from the UK to Australia?  Well, I’ve done it, and here’s my BREXIT special guide!  In this 45-minute video, The Safety Artisan looks at the similarities and differences between British and Australian safety practices.  This should also help Aussies thinking of heading over to work in the UK and even, dare I say it, to the EU!

“It’s beginning to look a lot like BREXIT! La, La-la, la, la…”

Comparing Australian & UK Safety Law, Key Points

  • Introduction. With BREXIT looming, British and Australian professionals may be thinking of working in each other’s countries;
  • Legislation. Our laws, regulations and codes of practice are quite similar;
  • Guidance. Try the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the Safe Work Australia websites – both are excellent;
  • Jurisdictions. This is complex in a federated state like Australia, so Brits need to do their homework;
  • Regulators. This varies by industry/domain – many are very similar, while some are quite different;
  • Cultural Issues: Australia vs. the UK. Brits and Aussies are likely to feel quite comfortable working in each other’s countries; and
  • Cultural Issues: Australia vs. the EU. There are some commonalities across the EU, but also dramatic differences.

Comparing Australian & UK Safety Law: Transcript

Click Here for the Transcript

Comparing Australian & UK Safety Law: Topics

This is a free full-length show. I think it’s going to be about 30 minutes just to let you know; in those 30 minutes, we’re going to compare the British and Australian approaches to safety. We’re going to talk about the similarities and differences between Australian and British legislation. On the safety guidance that’s available from the various authorities the different jurisdictions in the UK and Australia. Jurisdiction is not really an issue in the UK but certainly is in Australia, so that’s something we really need to go through.

We’ll talk about regulators and the different approaches to regulation. And, finally, some cultural issues. I may mention the dreaded EU. It’s worth talking a little bit about that too because there are still significant links between the EU and the UK on how safety is done which Australians might find helpful.

Introduction

Now, where’s Michael Bublé when I need him to sing the song? It says it’s looking a lot like Brexit. With the Conservatives winning in the UK they’ve passed the Brexit act. It looks like it’s finally going to happen. Now whether you think that’s a good idea or not I’m not going to debate that, you’ll be pleased to hear – you’re sick of that, I’m sure.

There are going to be some safety professionals and other engineering professionals who were working in the EU. And who maybe won’t be able to do so easily anymore, and there might be some Brits thinking well maybe this is an opportunity. This is a prompt for me to think about moving to Australia and seeing what life is like there. Conversely, there may be Aussies seeking opportunities in the UK because if the flow of professionally qualified Engineers and so forth from the EU countries dries up or slows down then there might be more opportunity for Aussies. Indeed, the UK has been talking about introducing an Australian-style points-based immigration system. And I think we might see a favourable treaty between UK and Australia before too long.

What have I got to contribute here? I spent quite a few years in the UK as a safety engineer and safety consultant and I worked on a lot of international projects. I worked on a lot of UK procurements of American equipment. And I also worked very closely with German, Italian and Spanish colleagues on the Eurofighter Typhoon for thirteen years on and off. And I have quite a bit of experience of working in Germany and some of working with the French. I’ve got I think quite a reasonable view of different approaches to safety and how the UK differs from and is like our European counterparts.

Also, seven years ago I emigrated to Australia. I went through that points-based process, fortunately with a firm to back me up. I made the transition from doing UK-style safety to Australian-style safety.

Let’s get on with it.

Legislation #1

There are very many similarities between Australian and UK approaches to safety. Australia has learned a lot from the UK and continues to be very close to the UK in many ways, particularly in our style of law and legislation. But there are differences and I’m mainly going to talk about the differences.

First of all in the UK we’ve had the Health And Safety At Work (HSAW) Act around since 1974. That’s the executive Act that sets up the Health and Safety Executive the HSE as a regulator, gives it teeth and enables further legislation and regulations. Now if I was still in the UK, the next thing we would talk about would be in any discussion about health and safety at work would be the ‘six-pack’.

Now, these were six EU directives that the UK converted into UK regulations, as indeed all EU member states were required to. Incidentally, the UK was very successful in influencing EU safety policy, so it’s a bit ironic that their turning their back on that.  What will you find in the six-pack?

First of all, the regulations on management of health and safety at work otherwise known as HSG65 and there’s a lot of good advice in there on how to do risk management that is broadly equivalent, for an Aussie audience, to the Risk Management Code Of Practice: similar things in there that it’s trying to achieve. Then we’ve got the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations or PUWER for short. That says if you provide equipment for workers it’s got to be fit for purpose. Then there are regulations on manual handling, on workplace health safety and welfare, on personal protective equipment at work, and on the health and safety of display screen equipment of the kind that I’m using here and now (I’m sat in my EU-standard computer chair with five legs and certain mandatory adjustable settings).

Now Aussies will be sat there looking at this list thinking it looks awfully familiar. We just package them up slightly differently.

There’s also, it should be said, a separate act called the Control Of Major Accident Hazards or COMAH as it’s known. And that was introduced after the Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea which claimed 167 lives in a single accident. That covers big installations that could cause a mass-casualty accident. So that’s the UK approach.

Legislation #2

Now the Australian approach is much simpler. The Aussies have had time to look at UK legislation, take the essentials from it and boil it down in into its essence quite cleverly. There is a single Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, which was signed up in 2011 and came into force on the 1st of January 2012. And there are a single set of WHS Regulations that go hand in hand with the Act.

And they cover a wide spectrum of stuff. A lot of the things in the UK that you would see covered in different acts and different regulations are all covered in one place. Not only does it address, as you would expect, the workplace responsibilities of employers and employees etc., but there are also upstream duties on designers and manufacturers and suppliers and importers and so forth. The WHS act pulls all these things together quite elegantly into one.

It’s a very readable act. I have to say it’s one of the few pieces of legislation that I think a non-lawyer can read and make sense of. But you’ve got to read what it says not what you think it says (just a word of caution).  The regulations cover Major Hazard Facilities, rather like the COMAH regulations, so they’re all included as well.

It’s worth noting that Australian WHS, unlike the UK, does not differentiate between safety and security. If somebody gets hurt, then it doesn’t matter whether it is an accident or whether it was a malicious act. If it happens to a worker, then WHS covers it. And that puts obligations on employers to look after the security of workers, which is an interesting difference, as the UK law generally does not do that. We’re seeing more prosecutions (I’m told by the lawyers) for harm caused by criminal acts than we are yet seeing for safety accidents.

And that’s the act and regulations. And it’s also worth saying that Australia has a system of Codes Of Practice just as the UK has Approved Codes Of Practice. Now that’s all I’m going to say for now. There are other videos and resources on the website that go into the Act and Regulations and COP. I’m going to do a whole series on all those things, unpacking them one by one.

Legislation #3

Let’s think about exceptions for a moment because the way that the UK and Australia do exceptions in their Health and Safety legislation is slightly different. In the UK, the Health and Safety at Work Act explicitly does not apply to ships and aircraft moving under their own power. That’s quite clear. That kind of division does not occur in Australia.

Also, the UK Health and Safety Act does not apply to special forces, or to combat operations by the armed forces, or to the work up to combat operations. Again, those exclusions do not exist in Australia. And then it’s also worth saying there are many other acts enforced by the UK HSE. It’s not just about HSAW, the six-pack and COMAH. There’s a lot of regs and stuff on mining and offshore, etc., you name it. The UK is a complex economy and there are lots of historical laws. Going back up to 100 years. I think the Explosives Act was in 1898, which is still being enforced.

Now Australia has a different approach. They’ve made a clean sweep; taken a very different approach as we’ll see later. And there are only really three explicit exclusions to the Act. It says that WHS doesn’t apply to merchant ships, which are covered by the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act. So, merchant ships aren’t covered, and WHS doesn’t apply to offshore petroleum installations either. More on that later.

There is a separate act that deals with radiation protection, and that is enforced by the ARPANSA, the Australian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Protection Agency. So, [HSAW and WHS have] a slightly different approach to what is covered and what is not; but very similar in the essentials.

Legislation #4

One of those essentials is the determination of how much safety is enough. In the UK the HSE talks about ALARP and in Australia the Act talks about SFARP. This quote here is directly from the UK HSE website. Basically, it says that ALARP and SFARP are essentially the same things. And the core concept, what is reasonably practicable, is what’s defined in the WHS Act.

Now it’s worth mentioning that the HSE say, this because it was the HSE who invented the term ALARP. If you look in UK legislation you will see the term SFARP, and you’ll see other terms like ‘all measures necessary’. There are various phrases in UK laws to say how much is enough, and the HSE said it doesn’t matter what it says in the law, the test we will use is ALARP and it covers all these things. It was always intended to be essentially the same as SFARP.

Now there is some controversy in Australia about that, and some people think that ALARP and SFARP are different. The truth is that in Australia, as in the UK, some people did ALARP badly. They did it wrong. If you do ALARP wrong, it’s not the same as SFARP, it’s different. But if you’re doing ALARP properly it is the same. Now, there are some people who will die in a ditch in order to disagree with me over that but I’m quoting you from the HSE, who invented the term to describe SFARP.

It’s also worth noting that WHS uses the term SFARP, but the offshore regulator, which is the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Agency (NOPSEMA), they use the term ALARP, because they’ve got a separate act from WHS for enforcing safety on offshore platforms. But again, even though they’re using ALARP, it’s the same as SFARP, if you look at the way that NOPSEMA explain ALARP.  They do it properly. And it matches up with SFARP, in fact, that NOPSEMA guidance is very good.

Guidance

We’ll talk more on regulators, but first a little aside and you’ll see why in a moment. Before we can get to talking about regulators, I need to tell you about where you can get guidance in Australia.

Now in the UK, you’ve got the HSE, who is the regulator and they also provide a lot of guidance. Any safety Engineer in the UK will immediately think of a document called R2P2, which is short for ‘Reducing Risk, Protecting People’. That’s an 80-something page document, in which the HSE explain their rationale for how they will enforce safety law and safety regulations and what they mean by ALARP and so on. There’s also a lot of guidance on their website as well, which is excellent and available under a Creative Commons licence so you can do an awful lot with it.

In Australia, it’s a little bit more complex than that. The WHS act was drafted by Safe Work Australia, which is a statutory agency of the government. It’s not a regulator, but it was the SWA who developed the Model WHS Act, the Model Regulations and the Model Codes Of Practice. (More on that in just a second.) It’s Safe Work Australia that provides a lot of good guidance on their website.

Most Australian regulators will refer you to legislation [i.e. not their own guidance]. We’ve got a bit of an American approach in that respect in Australia, in that you can’t do anything without a lawyer to tell you what you can and can’t do. Well, that’s the way that some government agencies seem to approach it. Sadly, they’ve lost the idea that the regulator is there to bridge the gap and explain safety to ordinary people so they can just get on with it.

Now some regulators in Australia, particularly say the New South Wales state regulator or Victorian state regulator do provide good guidance for use within their jurisdiction. The red flashing lights and the sirens should be going off at this point because we have a jurisdiction issue in Australia, and we’ll come onto that now.

Jurisdictions

In the UK, it’s reasonably simple. You’ve got the HSE for England and Wales, you’ve got the HSE for Scotland and you’ve got the HSE for Northern Ireland. They are enforcing essentially the same acts and the same regulations, right across the United Kingdom. Now there are differences in law: England and Wales have a legal system; Scotland has a slightly different legal system; then Northern Ireland has peculiarities of its own. But they’re all related. There are historical reasons why the law is different, but, from a safety point of view, all those three regulators do the same thing. And work consistently.

In Australia, it’s a bit different. Australia is a Federated Nation. We have States and Territories as you can see, we’ve got Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Within New South Wales we’ve got the ACT, that’s the Australian Capital Territory, and Canberra is the Australian Federal capital.

Most Australians live on that East Coast, down the coast of Queensland NSW and Victoria. Then we’ve got Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. All those states and territories have and enforce their own Safety Law and Regulations.

On top of that, you’ve got a Federal approach to safety as well. Now, this will be a bit of a puzzle to Brits, but in Australia, we call the national government in Canberra ‘the Commonwealth’. Brits are used to the Commonwealth being 100+ countries that used to belong to the UK, but now they’re a club. But in Australia, the Commonwealth is the national government, the Federal Government.

Regulators #1

Let’s talk about regulators, starting at the national level. If you look at the bottom right-hand corner, we have got Comcare. They are the national regulator, who enforce WHS for The Commonwealth of Australia, [Which is] all Federal workplaces, Defence, any land that’s owned by The Commonwealth, and anything where you’ve got a national system. You’ve also got some nationalised or semi-nationalised industries that effectively belong to the Commonwealth, or are set up by national regulations, and they operate to the Commonwealth version of WHS

Then you’ve got the Northern Territory, Tasmania, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. All those states and territories have their own versions of the Model WHS Act, Regulations and COP. They’re not all identical but they’re pretty much the same. There are slight differences in the way that things are enforced, for example in South Australia there’s a couple of Codes Of Practice that Work Safe SA have said they will not enforce.

These differences don’t change the price of fish. All these regulators have their own jurisdiction, and they’re all doing more or less the same thing as Commonwealth WHS. If you start with the Model WHS Act or the Commonwealth version, then you won’t be far off what’s going on in those states and territories. However, you do have to remember that if you’re doing non-Commonwealth work in those states and territories, you’re going to be under the jurisdiction of the local state or territory regulator.

That’s the easy bit!

Unfortunately, not all states have adopted WHS yet. Western Australia (bottom left-hand corner) they are going to implement WHS but it’s not there yet. Currently, in December 2019 they’re heading towards WHS, but they’re still using their old Occupational Health and Safety (OS&H) Legislation from about 1999, I think.

Victoria has decided that they’re not going to implement WHS. Even though everybody agreed they would [change to WHS], they’re going to stick with their Occupational Health and Safety at work Act, which again I think dates from something like 1999. (These acts are amended and kept up to date.)  Victoria has no plans to implement WHS.

You, like me, might be thinking what a ridiculous way this is to organise yourself. We’re a nation of less than twenty-five million people, and we’ve got all this complexity about regulators and how we regulate and yes: it is daft! Model WHS was an attempt to get away from that stupidity. I have to say it’s mostly been successful, and I think we will get there one day, but that’s the situation we’ve got in Australia.

Regulators #2

Now, a quick little sample of regulators in the UK and Australia just to compare. I can’t go through them all, because there are a lot. I wanted to illustrate the similarities and differences; there are many similarities for Brits coming to Australia or Aussies going to the UK. You will find a regulatory system that in most part looks and feels familiar.

In the UK, for example, you’ve got the Civil Aviation Authority, who regulate non-military flying, airports etc; in Australia, you’ve got the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which does almost the same thing. In the UK you’ve got the Air Accident Investigation Branch, who do what their name implies; in Australia, you’ve got the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau, who also investigates air accidents (they do maritime accidents as well). By the way, the ATSB in Australia is somewhat modelled on the American ATSB, with a very similar approach to the way they do business.

Now when we get onto the maritime side, it’s quite different. In the UK, you’ve got the Maritime and Coastguard Agency or MCGA. They regulate Civil Maritime Traffic and health and safety on merchant ships; they also investigate accidents. In Australia, don’t forget we’ve got the ATSB looking at maritime accidents and publishing statistics. We’ve then got the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the AMSA, who look at the design aspects of safety of ships. (These are all national / Federal / Commonwealth regulators, by the way.) You’ve then got ‘Sea Care’, who look at the OH&S workplace aspects of working on merchant ships.

Then separately [again] we’ve got the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority NOPSEMA, who look after oil rigs and gas rigs, that sit more than three nautical miles offshore. Because if they’re inside three nautical miles then that’s the jurisdiction of the local state or territory.

Indeed, NOPSEMA is evidence of the Federal government trying to get all the states and territories to come together.  They succeeded with WHS but with the offshore stuff, the states and territories refused to cooperate with the Commonwealth. (This is a common theme in Australia. The different branches of the government seem to delight in fighting each other rather than serving the Australian public.) The Commonwealth decided Australia could not develop an offshore industry on this basis – it wasn’t going to happen. So, they unilaterally set up NOPSEMA. Bang. Suck on that states and territories.

Culture

Let’s look a little bit at culture. Let’s face it, Australians, Brits and Americans in many ways are very similar. We have an Anglo-Saxon approach to things, and Australian and British law is very similar. We also have a similar sense of humour, which is very important when trying to do safety

You’ve got the five eyes countries – Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Canada – who have worked closely together for several decades. There’s a lot of commonality between these English-speaking countries that have a common Anglo-Saxon colonial past.

However, the big difference in Australia is that we are much more heavily influenced by the US than the UK is. You’ll find a lot of a US-style ‘certification against specification’ in Australia in different industries. That’s subtly different to the UK and Australian legal approach, which is based on ‘safety by intent’. This idea is that safety is achieved by keeping people safe [managing risk in the real world], where a contract specification means very little. Are people kept safe? That’s the essential idea behind UK and Australian law. It’s a bit that’s a bit different to the sort of American approach of you know specifications and requirements.

There’s nothing wrong with either approach, they’re just different, but mixing them together does cause confusion. In the UK if you work, as I did for most of my working life, in the aviation industry, it is an international enterprise and it uses a US-style safety-by-specification and certification approach because civil aviation is essentially US-led. (From the 1944 Chicago convention onwards.) It’s important to understand the difference, and there’s a lot more of this US certification influence in Australia.

Summary

We’ve talked about some different aspects. I can’t go into detail on everything, as I simply don’t know all the details on everything, as I’m not an expert in it all domains. Nobody is. But I hope I’ve given you a useful overview of differences for British engineers wanting to be aware of safety in Australia, and Aussies wanting to go to the UK.

Cultural Issues: UK versus the EU

It’s also worth having, while we’re on the subject, just one slide on the EU, because the UK has been part of the EU for a long time. UK legislation has been heavily influenced by the EU and vice versa. As I said earlier, the UK has been quite successful in influencing EU directives, which the UK that turns into regulations as the other EU nations do. That’s the second bullet point. If you go work in the EU, you should find local laws that implement the EU directives in common with the UK.

The big difference between the UK and the other EU states is the ALARP measure of how much safety is enough, and that is unique to the UK. So much so, that other EU nations took the UK to the European Court of Arbitration saying that ALARP was a sort of anti-competitive variation that shouldn’t be allowed. Now, they lost and ALARP stands in the UK, but just illustrates that there are some critical differences and ALARP is probably the most important one.

Back to the first bullet point. In English, we differentiate between safety and security. Now I’ve mentioned the UK HSAW does so but WHS does not do that (deliberately I guess), whether it’s accidental or harm or malicious harm you’ve got to protect your workers. However, in many European countries, the word for safety and security are the same. If you get to Germany, ‘Sicherheit’ means safety and security. In France it’s ‘securité’ and variations thereof in other romance languages, safety and security are the same words in many European languages.

Now having said that, a lot of these EU economies where you might be thinking of working, are modern economies with lots of internationally regulated stuff going on. The aviation industry, for example, but there are lots of advanced industries that are regulated in a similar way, right around the world. You’ll still find familiar concepts in different EU countries.

Now culturally, I’ve spent a lot of time working with Germans, who tend to come unstuck with the Anglo-Saxon approach to safety, because they have the mentality that they make things to work, not to fail. For German engineers especially, the Anglo-Saxon fixation with looking at how things could go wrong seems very strange. They often just don’t get it unless they’ve been in an industry like aviation, where that approach has been inculcated into them. Germans often don’t understand Australian WHS, because it’s just not their mentality. (They don’t build things to fail, they build them to work, so maybe ‘Safety-II’ will take off in Germany because of that.)

In France, I have to say the French are extremely competent engineers and they’re very good at safety. However, they do it their way they do it the French way, which is different to UK/Australia. Don’t expect the French to do it our way. They’re going to do it their way, and you need to learn, to understand what they do, how they do it and why they do it that way. France is in many ways a very nationalized country and it’s a national enterprise. Most engineers go through one system, and there is one top college for engineering in France.

There’s one and only one way of doing it in France, which may come as a bit of a shock to Aussies given our somewhat ‘here and there’ approach to regulation in Australia. The French are competent but don’t expect them to comply with the Aussie or UK way of doing things.

Now, I’ve said ‘variations across Southern Europe’, and I’m trying to be tactful here because a lot of the southern European approach to Safety is very variable. Sometimes I’ve been very impressed watching how, say, the Spanish do business, but in other countries like Italy the approach to safety can be a bit of a shocker. If you’re buying stuff from Italy, the contract may say they’ll do ‘x y z’ and they’ll produce safety reports. Just because they’ve said so, doesn’t mean a that it’s going to happen or that the stuff they produce is going to be worth the paper it’s written on, quite frankly. Some countries are very good in certain areas, but not so much in others.

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Well, thanks for listening!  This presentation contains a little bit of information from the UK HSE and some from Safe Work Australia and I’ve produced that under the [appropriate] Creative Commons licenses. If you go to The Safety Artisan website you will see the details of the licenses.

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It just remains for me to say stay safe and I’ll see you next month. Goodbye!

Comparing Australian & UK Safety Law: The End!

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