Applying for an exemption from compliance with Victoria's health and safety regulations

Guidance about how WorkSafe grants exemptions from health and safety regulations.


Regulations with exemption provisions

WorkSafe administers a range of regulations in its role as the statutory authority responsible for promoting and enforcing health and safety in Victorian workplaces. Those regulations are the:

  • Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017
  • Equipment (Public Safety) Regulations 2017
  • Dangerous Goods (Explosives) Regulations 2011
  • Dangerous Goods (HCDG) Regulations 2016
  • Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012
  • Dangerous Goods (Transport by Road or Rail) Regulations 2018

This guidance provides information about applying for an exemption under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations).

The guidance also summarises:

  • the exemption provisions of the other listed regulations
  • the provisions for inquiry and review of exemption decisions for those regulations

Exemptions from complying with the OHS Regulations

The OHS Regulations allow WorkSafe to exempt any person or any class of person from complying with certain duties. In other words, WorkSafe may excuse any activity, process, substance or thing, or any class of activity, process, substance or thing from:

  • any requirement of certain duties
  • prohibition in certain duties

Applicant's legislative requirements

An application for an exemption must:

  • be in writing and signed and dated by or for the applicant
  • state the applicant's name and address
  • state the name of the person or description of the class of person the application relates to
  • identify the regulation requirement from which the applicant wishes to be exempt
  • explain why the exemption is sought
  • if applicable, identify the workplace for which the exemption is sought
  • if the applicant is an employer, set out the consultation that has taken place with employees
  • provide sufficient information for WorkSafe to decide whether it can grant the exemption

An application can be made for more than one person, provision, activity, process, substance or thing. WorkSafe can ask an applicant for any additional information it considers necessary to properly consider an application. WorkSafe can make as many requests for additional information as it considers necessary.

Form to request exemption

When WorkSafe may grant an exemption

WorkSafe can grant an exemption after receiving an application. It can also grant an exemption on its own initiative in relation to high-risk work (HRW) for a class of employer.

WorkSafe can grant an exemption if it is satisfied that:

  • granting the exemption will result in at least an equivalent level of health and safety as if the relevant provision had been followed
  • the provision for which the exemption is sought is administrative and would be inappropriate or unnecessary in the circumstances

WorkSafe can decide to grant only part of an application for an exemption. It can also grant an exemption so it applies in a more limited way than sought in the application.


WorkSafe can place any condition it considers appropriate on an exemption. Conditions include but are not limited to:

  • risk control measures to be used or implemented
  • monitoring, including atmospheric monitoring and health monitoring to anyone at the workplace
  • recording or keeping information
  • providing information, instruction, training and supervision to a person or class of persons
  • using or implementing systems of work or processes
  • reporting information to WorkSafe, including health and safety information and the results of any monitoring, health monitoring or testing
  • limiting the quantity to be used
  • limiting who may carry out the activities
  • limiting the activities that may be carried out
  • imposing time limits on any actions that must take place

Exemptions relating to major hazard facilities

If WorkSafe intends to refuse to grant an exemption for provisions of the OHS Regulations relating to an MHF, it must:

  • first invite the applicant to make a written submission
  • allow 14 days for the submission
  • consider any submission

Exemptions relating to high-risk work

WorkSafe may grant an exemption to HRW if it is satisfied:

  • a person who does not hold a relevant HRW licence can perform the work described in the application
  • the person who does not hold a relevant HRW licence can perform the work described in the application as safely as a person who does hold a HRW licence
  • those requirements can be met by imposing certain conditions and those conditions are observed

Applicants may have to satisfy WorkSafe of their ability in relation to any skill or knowledge relevant to the HRW licence they are applying for.

WorkSafe may provide an exemption for all or part of the work normally done by a person with a relevant HRW licence.

Form and content of exemptions

An exemption must be in writing and must specify:

  • in the case of an exemption relating to a HRW licence -
    • the name of the employer or class of employer
    • the work that may be performed by employees who do not hold the relevant HRW licence
  • in any other case, who or what is exempt
  • the workplace where the exemption applies, if applicable
  • the provision of the OHS Regulations the exemption relates to
  • when the exemption starts
  • any conditions to the exemption

WorkSafe must provide a copy of an exemption to an individual applicant within 14 days after granting the exemption.

WorkSafe must also publish notice of an exemption in the Government Gazette. An exemption takes effect on the day it is published or any later day specified in the notice. As soon as reasonably possible after publication of an exemption in the Government Gazette, WorkSafe must publish a similar notice in a newspaper circulating generally throughout Victoria.

Notice of refusal

If WorkSafe refuses to grant an exemption, it must notify the applicant of the reasons for the refusal within 14 days of its decision.

Variation or revocation of an exemption

Where an exemption applies to a class of person, process, substance, activity or thing, WorkSafe may vary or revoke an exemption at any time. It does this by placing a notice in the Government Gazette setting out the variation, or stating that the exemption has been revoked. The revocation or variation takes effect on the day the notice is published in the Government Gazette or on a later day as specified in the notice.

In the case of any other exemption, WorkSafe must give written notice to the person the exemption applies to within 14 days of deciding to vary or revoke the exemption.

Further information

Applicants can contact WorkSafe Victoria's Licensing Branch on 1300 852 562 for further information.

A person who suspects a duty who holds an exemption is not maintaining equivalent levels of health and safety can contact the WorkSafe Advisory Service or the WorkSafe Emergency Response Service on 13 23 60.

WorkSafe Advisory Service

WorkSafe's advisory service is available between 7:30am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. If you need more support, you can also contact WorkSafe using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) or the National Relay Service.

1800 136 089 More contact options

Summary of exemption provisions

The following information explains the process and requirements for applying for exemptions under regulations that WorkSafe administers.

Information about the current value of a fee unit is available from the Department of Treasury and Finance Victoria.

Summary of provisions for inquiry and review of exemption decisions