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Safe work instruments
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Safe work instruments

Safe work instruments are a new type of tool in the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA), and are a type of subordinate instrument (sometimes called tertiary legislation). We develop safe work instruments and they are approved by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety.

They can be used for almost any purpose, however, they only have legal effect where specifically referred to in relevant regulations.

The purposes of safe work instruments are to define terms, prescribe matters, or make other provision in relation to any activity or thing, including (without limitation) listing standards, control of substances, and competency requirements.

HSWA section 227(2)


We expect to develop safe work instruments to:

  • prescribe detailed or technical matters or standards that change relatively frequently and will often be industry-specific
  • set additional or modified workplace controls for hazardous substances approved or reassessed by the Environmental Protection Authority
  • provide an alternative means of complying with regulations
  • support the effective operation of the health and safety regulatory framework, for instance by setting exposure monitoring standards or stipulating requirements for training, competence or safety management systems.

Some safe work instruments are coming into force during 2017.


Asbestos prescribed courses safe work instrument

The system of authorisation for carrying out asbestos removal work is currently in transition from a certificate of compliance to a licensing arrangement.

To be licensed, workers must complete standard training courses.

To support the new licensing scheme, a safe work instrument is needed to prescribe relevant courses for asbestos removal workers.

This safe work instrument came into force on 1 June 2017.


Hazardous substances safe work instruments

Safe work instruments will be used to help transition regulation of hazardous substances in the workplace from the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act to the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA).

This transfer will be complete when the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations (the HS regulations) come into force in December 2017.

We are developing safe work instruments relating to hazardous substances, and will be consulting on them during 2017.

Last updated 31 May 2017