While Australian Standards are certainly useful
reference tools for businesses, their status under law can be quite
Australian Standards are published documents that set out
specifications and procedures designed to ensure projects, services
and systems are reliable and consistently performed. For instance,
they might cover the use of gas in dispensing beverages,
specifications for manufacturing cots or reporting practices for
small businesses. If you've got an issue, you can sleep at
night knowing that there is a specific standard for you (with over
7000 Australian Standards the chances are quite high).
'But are they binding?', we hear you ask. Actually,
they're not. Australian Standards might be a great reference
point for businesses but they are not legally binding. However, if
an Australian Standard is incorporated into legislation by
government (and they often are), then the Standard will become
mandatory. For example, mandatory standards apply to car child
seats and fire extinguishers.
Standards have other uses too. They can be and often are
referred to in contracts to specify minimum standards that the
parties need to achieve, and can be enforced if a party fails to
Standards are also incorporated into various Codes of Practice,
particularly as part of workplace health and safety
recommendations. Although these Codes may not be binding they are
often referred to by inspectors in recommendations to improve WHS
standards. Finally, if you apply a relevant set of Australian
Standards in your business or venture, in the event of an incident
it can be used to demonstrate that you did all things reasonably
possible to manage your risk.
So while they're mostly not mandatory, we think it's a
pretty good idea to be aware of what Australian Standards apply to
your business operations because your short-term investment now
could end up saving you some serious problems (and money)
We do not disclaim anything about this article. We're
quite proud of it really.
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On 12th November 2016, new laws will commence to protect small businesses from unfair terms in standard form contracts.
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