26 September 2023

WorkSafe powers tougher to protect workers

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WorkSafe Victoria has had its powers expanded to prevent and respond to workplace safety concerns under new laws which came into effect last week (16 March).

Welcoming the amendments, WorkSafe said the Workplace Safety Legislation and Other Matters Amendment Act 2022 included changes related 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,” WorkSafe said.

“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,” it said.

“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.”

WorkSafe said the amendments also allowed for certain serious illnesses and large-scale infectious diseases to be prescribed as ‘incidents’ for notification purposes, including activities with a cumulative risk (like silica exposure) that could 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,” it said.

“This may include machinery such as quadbikes and tractors,” WorkSafe said.

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