The ‘Australian Standards’ are documents that detail certain requirements and instructions aimed at ensuring projects, systems and services are safe and unfailing. With over 7000 standards already established, it is no wonder business owners are concerned about the legal status of these standards, taking extra precaution to remain compliant. The primary function of the standards is to give guidance about the safety requirements of specific industries or on safely operating specific machinery/equipment.

If you believe certain standards ought to be drafted into a commercial contract, a commercial contract solicitor should be consulted. Commercial contract solicitors are adept at integrating these standards into contractual agreements and will be able to advise on the binding or non-binding nature of the relevant standards.

Are the Australian Standards legally binding?

Australian Standards are only legally enforceable when they are incorporated by the legislature into legislation. It is very commonplace for standards to be incorporated into the law. Some obvious examples include the placement and availability of fire extinguishers, and the standards surrounding car seat fittings for infants. For more information regarding the mandatory nature of certain standards, you should consult your commercial solicitor.

What is the purpose of Australian Standards?

Standards are created so that certain criteria are met. These criteria include things like:

  • Timeframes;
  • Quality;
  • Durability;
  • Performance;
  • Design; and
  • Operations/processes/systems.

These standards usually evolve out of well-established practices of particular industries but are sometimes a result of agreements between workers and managers. If you believe certain standards are missing from your employment contracts, consult an employment solicitor for advice on how best to integrate them.

Other uses

The Australian Standards can also be useful in other ways. For example, sometimes the standards will be incorporated into commercial contracts to ensure that certain standards are met. When a contract solicitor inserts these standards into a commercial contract, these standards become enforceable upon one party’s failure to adhere to them.

In addition, the standards are often integrated into different industry’s Codes of Practice. For example, the standards are, more often than not, part of the Workplace Health and Safety recommendations of certain industries. Despite the fact that these Codes are not legally enforceable, inspectors will sometimes take them into account when making suggestions about improving Workplace Health and Safety Standards.

It is important to note that standards serve an additional function in a workplace environment. In the event that something goes wrong in the workplace and the employee wishes to pursue you for civil damages, they can be used to show that you, as the employer, took all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of your employees.

Conclusion

Although the Australian Standards are largely not mandatory, it is worth speaking with a commercial solicitor about incorporating these into any contractual agreements that govern projects, systems or services that involve putting in place certain health and safety measures. For further guidance, seek professional legal advice on which standards you should include into which commercial contracts. Contact LegalVision on 1300 544 755 to speak with one of our commercial solicitors.

 

Priscilla Ng

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