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OH&S Prohibition Notices in Victoria

WorkSafe can enforce occupational health and safety (OH&S) laws by issuing Improvement Notices, Prohibition Notices, Non-disturbance Notices and directions. In serious cases, WorkSafe may pursue further legal action. This information offers an overview of Prohibition Notices under Victorian OH&S laws.

What is a Prohibition Notice?

A Prohibition Notice is a written direction stopping any activity that involves or is likely to involve an immediate risk to the health and safety of any person. If you receive a Prohibition Notice you are responsible to ensure that no-one on your site does the activity referred to in the Notice.

When will a Prohibition Notice be given?

An inspector may issue a Prohibition Notice if they believe that an activity you are undertaking or equipment you are using is an immediate risk to the safety of any person. For example, using a scaffold that has components from different scaffolding systems.

Before the inspector issues you with a Prohibition Notice he or she should talk to you about the suspected breach and seek immediate voluntary compliance to remedy the problem or the matters or activities causing it, such as stopping the immediate and future use of the scaffold and contacting the supplier to fix the problem.

A Prohibition Notice must contain:

  • the basis for the inspector’s belief that there is an immediate OH&S risk
  • the activity that the inspector believes involves or will involve the risk and the matters that give rise to the risk
  • the actual OH&S law that has or is likely to have been breached\
  • the penalty for contravening the Notice
  • how the Notice may be appealed. 

What should you do if given a Prohibition Notice?

If you are given a Prohibition Notice you should:

  • bring the Notice to the attention of each person whose work is affected by the Notice
  • give a copy of the Notice to the relevant health and safety representatives (if any)
  • display a copy of the Notice in a prominent place at or near the part of the workplace where the work that is affected by the Notice is being performed
  • stop carrying out any work which is related to the Prohibition Notice. 

After fixing the problem you should inform the inspector that you have rectified the issue. The inspector may want to come and check what you have done. 

Are you able to challenge the Prohibition Notice?

If you do not agree with the Prohibition Notice, you can seek a review of the inspector’s decision to issue the Notice. The first avenue of appeal is to the WorkSafe Internal Review Unit (IRU), and the appeal must be made within 14 days of the Prohibition Notice coming to your attention. You can also apply for a stay or suspension of the Notice pending the outcome of internal review. A request for a stay should be lodged with the application for internal review.

The review may decide to affirm, vary or set aside the inspector’s decision. If you are not satisfied with the decision of the IRU your only other option is to seek a review of that decision by the Victorian Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT).

What happens if I don’t comply with the Prohibition Notice?

If you do not comply with the Prohibition Notice you may be taken to court and face heavy fines. You can either comply with the Notice or seek a review with a stay within the set time periods. 

To find out more, contact HIA’s Building Services team.

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