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08-Jun-2016

Laws and standards in Australia/Oceania

Worldwide safety for plant and machinery

In Australia, states and territories have the responsibility of drafting and implementing safety laws. However, the individual laws on industrial safety and their requirements are very similar. The relevant legislation is based on the Work Health and Safety Act. This defines the obligations and duty of care of people with various responsibilities. Numerous regulations and codes of practice for the various safety areas fall under the state OHS legislation.


Regulations as a rule of jurisdiction

The codes of conduct are generally not legally binding. However, in the relevant legal system they are frequently consulted as a benchmark for assessing the measures taken to design a safe workplace. Failure to comply can have very serious consequences as a result.


Legally binding standards?

Regulations also often refer to the Australian standards drafted by an independent organisation called "Standards Australia". However, with a few notable exceptions, Australian standards are not legally binding. Again, courts frequently consult them when it is necessary to assess whether sufficient measures were taken to reduce risks.


The most relevant standard

One of the most important machinery safety standards in Australia is AS4024.1. Although compliance is not mandatory, it does represent an excellent defence in case of an action relating to neglect of duty of care. Failure to comply, on the other hand, may have considerable legal consequences.


Many Australian standards are based on international standards

In the interests of international alignment, Standards Australia's official policy is to adopt international standards (ISO or IEC) where possible. In contrast, US American standards (ANSI standards) rarely correspond to Australian, ISO or EN standards and are of little relevance in Australia.


Further information:

Reference book on functional safety standards

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Laws and standards in Australia