OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 4 Chemical Hazards, Biological Hazards and Harmful Substances

Section 26 Codes of practice


A code of practice is intended to provide practical guidance, present safe work procedures and address issues specific to the hazard to which the code applies. Section 8 of the OHS Code requires that procedures be in writing and available to workers.

As required by section 33 of the OHS Act, the employer must ensure that

(a) a copy of the code of practice is readily available to workers and other persons at the work site, and
(b) all workers to whom the code of practice applies receive appropriate education, instruction or training regarding the content of the code of practice. Doing so helps workers comply with it.

Table 1 of Schedule 1 lists substances with high toxicity and a significant presence in Alberta. Where these substances are present at a work site in either a “significant” quantity or concentration, the employer is required to have a code of practice describing the storage, handling, use and disposal of the substance. The criteria defining “significant” are presented in subsections (1)(a) and (b) of section 26.

The handling of asbestos-containing material requires a code of practice. The “handling” could be abatement, application, maintenance, storage or disposal. For consistency with Alberta Environment’s waste management guidelines, Alberta Human Services does not consider a material containing less than 1 percent asbestos by weight to be an asbestos-containing material requiring specialized handling, removal and disposal practices. As a result, a code of practice is not mandatory for materials containing less than 1 percent asbestos by weight.

A code of practice should specify the following:

(a) safe work practices for working with or near the substances;

(b) preventative measures to be taken to prevent releases of the substance;

(c) action to be taken in the event of a release;

(d) protective equipment to be used by workers who work with the substance or in areas of the workplace where they may be exposed to the substance;

(e) emergency procedures;

(f) site contacts and emergency contacts;

(g) decontamination procedures;

(h) waste handling procedures; and

(i) worksite monitoring requirements.

Processes involving substance

If a process listed in Table 1 of Schedule 1 is used at a work site, regardless of the quantity or concentration of the identified substance used in the process, the employer must establish a code of practice governing the operation of the process.

Uncontrolled release

If there is a possibility of uncontrolled release associated with a substance or a process identified in Table 1 of Schedule 1, the employer must establish a code of practice that documents the measures to be taken to prevent the uncontrolled release and the procedures to follow in the event of such a release.