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COVID-19: New Incident Notification Regulations – VIC

July 29, 2020

The Victorian Government has introduced temporary regulations under OHS laws that require employers and self-employed persons including sub-contractors to notify WorkSafe Victoria of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace. 

The new requirements commenced on 28 July 2020. 

These new laws extend the current notifications provisions under Part 5 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) to require WorkSafe be notified immediately if:

  • an employer/builder becomes aware that an employee including a sub-contractor, and any employees of the sub-contractor, has received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and has attended the workplace within the infectious period (being 14 days prior to the earlier of the date of having symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or the date of receiving a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and continuing until clearance from isolation from the Department of Health and Human Services has been received); or
  • a self-employed person has received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and has attended a workplace within the infectious period

Obligations of employees

It is important to note the Regulations do not include a requirement for an employee to notify an employer of a confirmed diagnosis or having symptoms consistent with COVID-19. 

However, there are general duties under the OHS Act (Section 25) that require employees to take reasonable care for the health and safety of those who may be affected by their acts or omissions at a workplace. They are also required to co-operate with his or her employer with respect to any action taken by the employer to comply with an OHS Act requirement. 

The WorkSafe website has information about an employee’s obligation to notify an employer of a COVID-19 diagnosis or symptoms.

What do you need to do?

Employers should notify their employees in writing that the employer will be required to report to WorkSafe any diagnosis of COVID-19 reported by an employee and that employees should report suspected or diagnosed cases of COVID-19.

Employers or self-employed persons who need to report any diagnosis of COVID-19 should notify WorkSafe immediately by calling 13 23 60.  WorkSafe will then advise if an inspector will make a site visit and whether the incident scene can be disturbed before the inspector's attendance.  If you have difficulty calling the number email this address - info@worksafe.vic.gov.au – with details of the report.

Notifying WorkSafe

It can be difficult to determine whether a COVID-19 diagnosis triggers the obligation to notify WorkSafe.  Therefore, it is recommended that if you become aware of any diagnosis of COVID-19 of someone that may have attended a workplace it should be reported to WorkSafe to be certain.

Penalties

Significant penalties will apply for failing to notify WorkSafe – up to $39,652 (240 penalty units) for an individual or $198,264 (1200 penalty units) for a body corporate. 

Therefore it is important to take note and adhere to these new COVID-19 requirements. 

Further information is available from WorkSafeVic.

Contact a HIA Workplace Adviser

1300 650 620

or email enquiry@hia.com.au