COVID-19 WorkSafe Requirements in Victoria


This article applies to all organisations in Victoria.

Occupational Health and Safety (COVID-19 Incident Notification) Regulations 2020 No. 78 (Vic)

The Occupational Health and Safety (COVID-19 Incident Notification) Regulations 2020 No. 78 (Vic) (the Regulations) commenced on 28 July 2020, prescribing a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 in an employee, contractor or employee of a contractor as an incident for the purpose of Part 5 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (the Act).

COVID-19 incidents

Under Section 38 of the Act an employer must notify the Victorian WorkCover Authority (WorkSafe) immediately after becoming aware that an incident has occurred at a workplace that is under the management and control of the employer.  The Regulations have now prescribed a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 in an employee, an independent contractor engaged by the employer or an employee of that contractor to be an incident for the purposes of this section, where that person has attended the workplace within the infectious period.  As per the requirements for all reportable incidents, the notification to WorkSafe must be followed up with a written record of the positive diagnosis within 48 hours, with a copy of the record being kept by the employer for a minimum of 5 years.  Failure to notify WorkSafe of an incident or failing to keep written records of the incident carry a significant penalty of 1,200 penalty units for a body corporate (currently $198,264.00).

The duty to preserve an incident site under section 39 of the Act also applies to confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19.  Under section 39, employers must ensure that the site of a reportable incident is not disturbed until a WorkSafe inspector arrives at the site or such other time as directed by the inspector.  Incident sites are however permitted to be disturbed in order to protect the health and safety of others, for aiding the injured or to make the incident site safe to prevent the incident from re-occurring.  The penalty for breaching section 39 is also 1,200 penalty units for a body corporate (currently $198,264.00).

Confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis means a positive result for a person who has undergone a diagnostic procedure for COVID-19.

Infectious period means the date, being 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis (whichever comes first), until the date on which the person receives a clearance from isolation from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Conclusion

Organisations should update their OH&S incident reporting policies and procedures to reflect that a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 in staff, independent contractors and employees of independent contractors is now a reportable incident for the purposes of Part 5 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic).


Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au