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Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004

Occupational Health & Safety Act - Working Together for Safer, Healthier Workplaces

Working Together for Safer, Healthier Workplaces is a package of administrative and legislative reforms designed to provide employees and employers with more support on health and safety, and to address the social and economic cost of work-related deaths, injuries and illness.

The OHS Act:

  • On 1 July 2005, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 came into effect.
  • The Act is the outcome of a major review of the 1985 Act, carried out for the Victorian Government by Chris Maxwell QC.
  • The reforms to the Act will help to make VWA a more constructive, accountable, transparent and effective regulator.

How will I be affected?

VWA can provide you with a number of tools to assist you to understand your obligations under the new legislation and how the changes will affect you.

The booklet Getting Into The Act provides information in the following areas:

  • An overview of the new Act
  • Workplace Responsibilities
  • Workplace Representation
  • The role and powers of VWA inspectors
  • New Right of Entry Provisions
  • Prosecution and Penalties

Most recent sections of the Act

  • Duty of employers to consult with employees. Comes into effect on 1 January 2006 The duty of employers to consult is one of the most significant changes introduced by the OHS Act 2004. Under the new Act, from 1 January 2006 employers will be required to consult with all employees who are, or are likely to be directly affected by proposed changes to the workplace that may affect their health and safety.
  • Duties of designers of buildings or structures.
    More information on the duty...

Why the changes?

Our goal is to improve Victoria's health and safety system and prevent work-related deaths, injuries and illness and the associated high social and economic costs. Good safety is good for the community and good for business. Work-related deaths, injuries and illness have tragic effects on workers, their families, workplaces and community.

Workplaces and working arrangements have changed dramatically since the introduction of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1985. The legislation needed to be modernised to reflect these changes.

A major review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1985 was conducted by Chris Maxwell QC in 2004. The review found that while the 1985 Act had served Victoria well and was basically sound, reforms were needed to make it work better and to meet the needs of workplaces today and into the future. Maxwell recommended changes to the OHS legislation and the way VWA, as the regulator, operates to reduce the toll of injury, disease and death in Victorian workplaces.

To find out more about the review process, view the Department of Treasury & Finance Review.

What will the reforms do?

The reforms will help to make VWA a more constructive, accountable, transparent and effective regulator. We will be better able to provide employers and employees with the advice and assistance they need to make their workplaces safer and healthier.

The reforms will create safer and healthier workplaces by

  • modernising the language and layout of the Act, making it easier to understand
  • providing greater clarity and certainty about the obligations of duty holders
  • fostering increased participation by employers, employees and their representatives in workplace health and safety issues
  • promoting fairness, consistency and transparency in the enforcement of the legislation,
  • bringing penalties broadly into line with other jurisdictions.

Implementation of these reforms will build on the VWA's recent moves to improve benefits for injured workers, and implement a workplace injury insurance system that provides timely rewards to employers for improvements in occupational health and safety performance.

Further Information

If you have any further queries regarding the changes, contact the Advisory Service.