I did mention in one of my articles, Safety In Design, that compliance shall be in the following order
- Acts / Laws
- Codes of Practice
- Industry Standards
I once attended a workshop on the proposed changes in legislation regarding Workplace Health and Safety. The Speaker mentioned that "Compliance to Standards is not necessarily compliance to legislations". Compliance with standards, however, is admissible in court as evidence.
Legislations have the phrase "when practicable" or "if practicable". The word practicable is actually vaguely used as it is not measurable. The definition of practicable will be dependent on the court on what they think will be practicable.
As Engineers, we tend to rely on standards as the basis of our design. We are bound however to ensure that our design will be compliant with local legislation. As Standards tend to change very often due to the use of new technologies, legislations do not. This is the primary reason why Acts and Laws have minimum references to standards, so that even if the standard change, the law will remain unchanged.
To reiterate, Engineers should be aware that compliance with standards is not necessarily compliance with legislation.