In October 2013 Safe Work Australia issued a revised code of practice for excavation work. To have legal status in any state or territory it must be approved as a code of practice in that jurisdiction. However not one state or territory has yet adopted the latest version. So just where do they stand on legislation for safe excavations?
Safe Work Australia’s Excavation code of practice has been in development for several years. A draft version was produced in September 2011 and the first, final, version in July 2012, followed by the new version in October 2013.
The 48 page code is one of a number of model codes of practices developed by Safe Work Australia in accordance with the Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety and is part of a package of harmonised work health and safety laws.
The Safe Work Australia web site says: “To determine if this model Code of Practice has been approved as a code of practice in a particular jurisdiction, check with the relevant regulator.” So we did.
These bodies are:
- Worksafe ACT
- WorkCover NSW
- NT WorkSafe
- Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
- SafeWork SA
- Workplace Standards Tasmania
- WorkSafe Victoria
- WorkSafe WA
The ACT seems to be well behind. The Worksafe ACT web site offers only a two page “guidance note” on excavations.
Workcover NSW is also not up with the times. It as its own 72 page code of practice, which dates from 2000. It is now described as offering only ‘guidance’. The web page from which it can be downloaded carries the message:
“This publication was developed based on the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulation which have now been repealed. The Work Health and Safety Act and Regulation commenced in NSW on 1 January 2012. To ensure you comply with your legal obligations you must refer to the appropriate legislation.”
In the Northern Territory there is no separate code for excavation work, it is incorporated into the Construction Work Code of Practice, dating from December 2011 which “is based on the national code of practice developed by Safe Work Australia as part of the harmonisation of work health and safety laws.”
Queensland has a 43 page code that came into effect on 1 December 2013 and that is “based on a national model code of practice developed by Safe Work Australia and approved by the Select Council on Workplace Relations on 13 July 2012 as part of the harmonisation of work health and safety laws.”
South Australia uses the Safe Work Australia developed code but the version on its website dates from July 2012, ie not the latest October 2013 version.
The Tasmanian codeon the website of Workplace Standards also dates from December 2012 and is based on the national model code of practice developed by Safe Work Australia.
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