1) What is the purpose of the WSH Council’s CP? How much detail does the CP provide?
The WSH Council’s CP sets the preferred work practices or standards that industry practitioners are expected to adopt when managing workplace risks. It is widely consulted with the industry prior to being confirmed and issued as reference materials for the industry.
The CP provides guidance on what constitutes “reasonably practicable” measures and the parties responsible for these measures. In line with the outcome-based approach of the national WSH framework, the CP, however, may not detail the exact steps or methodologies of these measures. Industry practitioners can decide how best to meet the standards stated in the CP.
2) What is an Approved Code of Practice (ACOP)?
ACOPs refer to Approved Codes of Practice. ACOPs would set preferred work practices or standards that industry practitioners are expected to adopt when managing workplace risks, unless an alternative course of action can achieve the same or better standard of health and safety in the workplace.
Any Code of Practice issued directly by the WSHC would, by default, undergo official processes to be approved as an ACOP. Existing standards residing with other National Standards Body (NSB), e.g SPRING Singapore, BSI or International Standards Organisations e.g ISO, IEC etc and where the WSH Council considers practical for industry’s WSH use, can be approved to become an ACOP.
3) Is it mandatory for the industry to comply with CPs?
The WSH Council’s CP is not a piece of legislation. However, as it is issued only after extensive industry consultation, the industry standards for a specific type of work stipulated in the CP are considered expected industry standards. Hence, it may be cited as a reference in a court of law on what constitute ‘reasonably practicable’ measures.
CPs could be used in prosecutions to demonstrate whether the accused parties involved in a workplace accident have implemented ‘reasonably practicable measures’ to manage the risks that resulted in the accident. Accused parties may find it harder to defend themselves if they have not implemented measures deemed to be ‘reasonably practicable’ as determined by the CP. The CPs may also be cited in cases where parties are taken to task by MOM for safety
infringements found during inspections that may not have led to any accidents.
4) What is the purpose of a Guideline and a Technical Advisory? Is there any difference between the two?
Both Guideline and Technical Advisory (TA) provide useful references on recommended WSH practices. They provide guidance on “how” to make the work safe by providing detailed information on meeting the requirements of the CP or legislation.
The main difference between the two is the type of information provided. Guideline generally provides information on general, non-technical issues while TA gives guidance on issues that are technical in nature where engineering or scientific methods are more common.
5) Is it mandatory for the industry to comply with Guideline/TA?
Guideline and TA are not legislation. However, both are issued after extensive industry consultation and provide guidance on safety and health measures, common practices and knowledge that are deemed ‘reasonably practicable’.
Hence, it is possible that Guideline and TA can be surfaced as reference points in a court of law to determine whether a safety measure is considered reasonably practicable.