New Laws to Improve Workplace Safety

The Workplace Safety Legislation and Other Matters Amendment Act 2022 came into effect on 16 March 2022, enabling WorkSafe Victoria to prevent and respond to workplace safety concerns and improve outcomes for injured workers and their families.

The new laws include changes relating to the issuing of prohibition notices in workplaces and a broadened range of notifiable incidents. WorkSafe inspectors can now issue a prohibition notice or give a direction relating to non-immediate yet serious health and safety risks and prohibit an activity until satisfied the risks have been remedied and the workplace made safe.

Employers should be aware that under this new threshold, it’s likely that some activities for which an inspector may have issued an improvement notice in the past may now become subject to a prohibition notice.

The new laws also change the threshold for incident notifications, meaning employers are now required to notify WorkSafe of incidents that don’t result in an injury but do expose a person to a serious health and safety risk.

The changes also allow for certain serious illnesses and large-scale infectious diseases to be prescribed as incidents for notification purposes, including activities with a cumulative risk, such as silica exposure, that can lead to lifelong illness.

The failure of, or damage to, certain items of plant will also become a notifiable incident when a person is exposed to an immediate or imminent serious risk. This may include machinery such as quadbikes and tractors. WorkSafe will engage with key stakeholders before the changes to incident notification for certain illnesses and plant are prescribed through amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations in coming months.

The Act makes amendments to the Accident Compensation Act 1985 (AC Act), the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 (DG Act), the Equipment (Public Safety) Act 1994 (EPS Act), the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), and the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (WIRC Act).

Further reforms to improve compensation arrangements for workers with silicosis and similar occupational diseases and their families, and increased support entitlements for families of deceased workers, will commence in mid-2022.

Visit the WorkSafe VIC website for more information about how the new requirements will impact duty holders.

Source: WorkSafe Victoria, 17 March 2022