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Code of Practice

By: Tabitha Mishra
| Last updated: February 13, 2022

What Does Code of Practice Mean?

A code of practice is a written guideline issued by a professional association that lays out ethical standards for a profession, trade, occupation, organization, or union.

Codes of practice do not usually carry the same force as legislation. Often, they consist of rules crafted in response to actual or potential dangers observed on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for example, issues codes of practice for various industries in order to encourage safer working conditions.

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professionals are expected to be conversant with the codes of practice applicable to their activities and industries.

Safeopedia Explains Code of Practice

Codes of practice can serve as a starting point for evaluating workplace practices. They can also provide guidance with regard to the corrections, controls, and other safety measures that could be used to rectify safety issues.

Are Codes of Practice Mandatory?

Compliance with codes of practice is not usually mandatory. However, there are various reasons why failing to meet these codes can, in practice, be treated as a violation.

While they are not themselves standards, codes of practice are often issued to help employers and professionals understand how to compy with laws and regulations. In other words, they ensure compliance when standards are unclear, outdated, or ambiguous. In those cases, the code of practice should be considered an extension of the standard and seen as mandatory.

Moreover, courts may regard a code of practice as evidence under certain circumstances.

Inspectors and auditors can also refer to a code of practice when evaluating a workplace. Failing to comply with the code can then serve as the basis for fines or requests to rectify certain practices and workplace conditions.

Suggestion Codes of Practice for Workplace Safety

Although each code of practice will be unique and specific to an industry or an aspect of work, there are general items that are part of many codes. Here are some examples of these:

  1. All employees will follow safe practices and safety rules, contribute to safe work practices, and report safety violations and unsafe work conditions
  2. Supervisors will monitor adherence to all safety rules and ensure compliance without exception
  3. Employees will be regularly reminded of safety rules and safe work practices through toolbox talks, refresher training, and practice drills
  4. No one will be allowed to carry out their work under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  5. Impaired performance and alertness due to fatigue or illness is a safety risk and, therefore, cause for temporary dismissal from work
  6. All guards and protective devices must be in place before work begins
  7. All employees must wear adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) on the jobsite
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