About 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.