Victoria Passes New Laws to Improve Workplace Safety
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The Victorian Parliament has passed the Workplace Safety Legislation and Other Matters Amendment Act 2022, which was enacted on the 16th of March 2022.
The Act aims to prevent and better respond to workplace safety incidents, improve outcomes for injured workers and their families, and increase the Victorian workplace health and safety authority, WorkSafe Victoria, to enhance Victorian workers’ compensation scheme operations.
These laws include changes relating to the issue of prohibition notices in workplaces and give a broadened definition of notifiable incidents.
WorkSafe Inspectors may now issue a prohibition notice or give a direction relating to severe but non-urgent health and safety risks and restrict activity until they are satisfied the risks have been mitigated and workers are in a safe environment.
Employers should be aware it’s likely some activities where inspectors would usually issue an improvement notice would now be subject to a prohibition notice.
They should also make note that incident notification thresholds have been lowered, which means employers must notify WorkSafe of incidents that do not result in injury but had exposed the worker or workers to a potential health and safety risk.
Certain serious illnesses and large-scale infectious disease exposure are also covered as notifiable incidents.
Activities with cumulative risk such as silica exposure that can lead to life-long health complications also fall under the new notification guidelines. These have been designed, in WorkSafe’s view, to ensure the “unique nature of certain diseases that progress rapidly and do not stabilise can be addressed.”
Other notable amendments to the act include improving entitlements for families of deceased workers; clarifying that funds collected from infringement notices are paid into the WorkCover fund; a raft of technical amendments to the WIRC Act including changes to clarify the current process for awarding legal costs, contractor provisions, and payments for injured workers living overseas; and changes to the Firefighters Presumptive Rights Compensation Scheme to include Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) vehicle and equipment maintenance employees.
The OHS Act and some technical WIRC Act amendments are now law, with others relating to silicosis and similar diseases, as well as Family support reform will be made law in mid-2022.
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).
There is an extensive range of manual handling equipment available to assist in making workplaces safer and increasing productivity. This includes electric pallet jacks that help workers avoid pushing and pulling injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. Wheelie bin tippers also provide for quick and efficient emptying of rubbish bins. Speak to a Sitecraft Materials Handling Equipment specialist today.
For a full breakdown, visit WorkSafe Victoria.