VIC: new laws strengthen WorkSafe inspector powers

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Sunday, 27 March, 2022 - 12:30
Industry news

The Victorian Government recently introduced new laws which it says will strengthen WorkSafe Victoria’s ability to respond to workplace safety concerns and improve outcomes for injured workers and their families.

The Workplace Safety Legislation and Other Matters Amendment Act 2022 includes 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.

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 quad bikes 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 the coming months.

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.