A safe work instrument is a form of legislation that supports or complements regulations. A safe work instrument can also be called a SWI.

Safe work instruments allow for greater flexibility and more timely updates to the regulatory framework, reflecting changes in technology, standards, and health and safety practices.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015(external link) (HSWA) describes their purposes:

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)

Safe work instruments have legal effect only where they are referred to in regulations.

Before a new (or amended) safe work instrument can take effect, it has to be approved by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety.

We 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.