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Thursday, 24 November 2011
Page: 9579


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (VictoriaParliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations) (19:30): With respect to codes of practice, this is the level of information that officers have been able to ascertain over the dinner break. The staggered approach to the development of codes, including the identification of priority codes to commence from 1 January 2012, was agreed by Safe Work Australia members comprising representatives of each state and territory, the Commonwealth, the ACTU, the AiG and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The staggered approach to public comment was at the request of stakeholders so that they could engage and provide considered comment.

Eleven priority codes of practice have been agreed by ministers from seven out of nine jurisdictions and are due to commence from 1 January 2012. These are: hazardous manual tasks; how to prevent falls at workplaces; labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals; preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals; confined spaces; managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work; managing the work environment and facilities; work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination; how to manage work health and safety risks; how to safely move asbestos; and how to manage and control asbestos in the workplace.

Public consultation on a further six codes of practice closed on 18 November. These are due to be finalised by the end of this year. They are: first aid in the workplace—the one you mentioned, Senator Abetz; managing risks in construction work; preventing falls in housing construction; managing electrical risks at the workplace; managing risks of hazardous chemicals; and managing risks of plant in the workplace.

Public consultation on nine codes of practice will close on 16 December. They will be reviewed following this consultation and are due to be finalised in the first half of next year. They are: safe design of building and structures; excavation work; demolition work; spray painting and powder coating; abrasive blasting; welding and allied processes; safe access in tree trimming and arboriculture—something I am sure Senator Faulkner would appreciate; preventing and managing fatigue in the workplace; and preventing and responding to workplace bullying.

It is proposed that further model codes of practice are developed to support the implementation of the Model Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations 2012, and at this stage these codes include: traffic management; diving; forest operation; precast, tilt-up and concrete elements; formwork and falsework; plant design, manufacture, import and supply; guarding plant; amusement devices; scaffolds; cranes; industrial lift trucks; rural plant; cash in transit; managing risks in policing; vibration; and biological hazards.

Aside from codes, guidance material is being developed on worker representation; personal protective equipment; heritage plant; exposure standards; health monitoring; foundry work; electroplating; major hazard facilities; nanotechnology; and synthetic mineral fibres.

These lists of codes and guidance material are indicative only. Safe Work Australia will continue to identify areas where guidance is needed under the model work health and safety legislation and to develop relevant model codes of practice and guidance material. To avoid a gap, the transitional arrangements for the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Bill will preserve those parts of the current codes of practice covering topics still under development. This is consistent with transitional principles for the model act agreed by Safe Work Australia members.

Safe Work Australia members have also agreed to a policy of transitioning to new requirements in approved codes of practice on 1 January 2012. This policy provides that, to help duty holders to transition to any new safety practices, processes and control measures recommended in approved codes of practice, inspectors will use the guidance provided in the codes to assist duty holders to achieve compliance. Where new approved codes of practice are in place, regulators understand that a period of adjustment is required for duty holders to gain an understanding of the detail in a code of practice and how it applies to activities at their workplaces.