Laws and standards in Australia / Oceania


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 respective 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 OH&S legislation.

Importance of the standards

Generally speaking the codes of conduct are not legally binding. However, they are often consulted in the respective legal system as a benchmark for assessing the measures taken to design a safe workplace. As a result, non-compliance can have very serious consequences.

Regulations 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. Courts frequently consult them when it is necessary to assess whether sufficient measures were taken to reduce risks.

One of the most important machinery safety standard 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.

International orientation

Many Australian standards are based on international standards:

  • Standards issued by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
  • Standards issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

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


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