A safe work instrument (SWI) is a form of legislation that supports or complements regulations.
SWIs allow for greater flexibility and more timely updates to the regulatory framework, reflecting changes in technology, standards, and health and safety practices.
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)
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA)(external link) describes their purposes:
SWIs have legal effect only where they are referred to in regulations.
Before a new (or amended) SWI can take effect, it has to be approved by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety.
We develop SWIs 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 example by setting exposure monitoring standards or requirements for training, competence, or safety management systems.
As information becomes available, a SWI may need to be amended to stay up to date.
Consolidated safe work instruments
When WorkSafe amends a SWI, we publish the amended SWI as a separate document which clearly identifies the changes made to the principal (original) SWI.
WorkSafe also publishes consolidated safe work instruments that combine the principal SWI with its amendment/s in a single document so that the user can understand all the requirements that apply to them at the current date.
- are a compilation of a principal (original) SWI and its amendment/s
- are based on the law as it stood at the time the SWI was consolidated
- are for reference only and have no official status.