Pandemic Orders and industry requirements are regularly updated
This guidance is correct as at time of publication, however, Victorian Minister for Health's Pandemic Orders and industry requirements are regularly updated. Readers of this guidance need to check the latest Victorian Pandemic Orders for applicability.
Restrictions apply across Victoria
Depending on your industry your workplace may:
- be subject to restricted operations or industry specific obligations
- be subject to COVID-19 vaccination requirements
It is mandatory for every Victorian business with on-site operations to have a COVIDSafe Plan. COVIDSafe plans should be reviewed and updated regularly.
COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria may be updated at any time. You must stay up to date with changes for your industry.
How are my occupational health and safety (OHS) obligations impacted by the restrictions?
There is no change to your obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) as a result of the Pandemic Orders issued by the Victorian Minister for Health.
Preparation of a COVIDSafe Plan forms part of the development of a safe system of work. However, having a COVIDSafe Plan and complying with the Victorian Pandemic Orders does not necessarily mean you have complied with all of your duties under the OHS Act and OHS Regulations.
You must follow any Pandemic Orders that apply to how your business must operate, and ensure that you are meeting your obligations under the OHS Act. Employees must also comply with their duties under the OHS Act.
Rollout of COVID-19 vaccines
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will help protect you from getting seriously unwell from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, free and effective.
Australian Government vaccine rollout strategy
Latest advice on the vaccine roll out in Victoria
This guidance discusses COVID-19 vaccination as one of a range of COVID-19 control measures that employers should consider as part of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act).
You must also follow any Pandemic Orders issued by the Victorian Minister for Health relating to COVID-19 vaccinations.
For the latest advice about COVID-19 vaccinations, go to the Coronavirus Victoria website.
WorkSafe Victoria will review guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations regularly in line with public health advice.
COVID-19 vaccines as a control measure
Under the OHS Act employers must identify whether there is a risk to the health of their employees from exposure to COVID-19 at their workplace.
Where a risk is identified, employers must eliminate the risk, so far as is reasonably practicable. When elimination is not possible, they must reduce the risk so far as reasonably practicable.
Employers need to utilise control measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 according to the hierarchy of controls.
COVID-19 vaccination is one control measure that should be considered as part of a suite of controls to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in workplaces.
The controls an employer uses will vary depending on the situation, as well as the availability and suitability of controls for each workplace. You must also follow any Pandemic Orders issued by the Victorian Minister for Health relating to COVID-19 vaccinations.
Other controls that an employer should consider include:
- allowing employees to work from home where it is reasonably practicable
- ensuring employees not attend workplaces if unwell
- maintaining adequate ventilation using natural or mechanical ventilation, or a combination of the two
- maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others where possible
- maintaining regular cleaning and disinfection of the workplace
- wearing a face mask when required, unless a lawful exception applies
- practising good hygiene, including regularly washing hands or using hand sanitiser and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow
- having a COVIDsafe plan which is regularly reviewed and updated
Where employees have a lawful reason not to get a COVID-19 vaccine, employers must continue to implement other risk control measures, so far as is reasonably practicable, to control the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
The six principles of COVIDSafe workplaces
You must also continue to follow any Pandemic Orders that apply to how you operate your business.
Information about preventing work related violence
Employees may be at increased risk of work related violence when requesting evidence of vaccination from people entering the workplace.
The OHS Act requires employers to ensure risks to health and safety are eliminated or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable. Employers should consider appropriate control measures to reduce this risk, such as:
- ensuring adequate and suitable staffing, including ensuring there is more than one employee checking vaccination status, if practical
- providing appropriate supervision and support to employees
- installing appropriate signs to inform people about requirements of entry
- ensuring communication, duress and alarm systems are in place, regularly maintained and tested and that all employees are trained regularly in the system's operation.
Consultation with employees and health and safety representatives
Employers must consult, so far as is reasonably practicable, with employees, contractors and health and safety representatives (HSRs), if any, on matters related to health and safety.
- sharing information with employees about the matter
- giving employees a reasonable opportunity to express views
- taking those views into account
Where employees are represented by an HSR, the consultation must involve the HSR.
Consultation with individual employees may be required to identify whether having the vaccine is appropriate for them, according to the public health advice and their individual circumstances.
Workers compensation and injuries sustained due to vaccine
An employee may be entitled to workers compensation if they sustain an injury due to the COVID-19 vaccine and the injury occurred out of or in the course of employment.
The vaccine may be considered to have occurred out of or in the course of employment if they are a front line worker or work in an industry where their employer imposes the vaccine, and the employer has;
- recommended or organised the vaccination onsite or at another location; or
- subsidized the vaccination
Under Victorian Worker's Compensation laws, only a significant reaction to the vaccine may be considered an injury. More significant reactions could include severe fever, blood clots, allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), seizure, or stroke.
Workers cannot be compensated if they suffer only mild symptoms due to the vaccine, such as feeling tired, headache, nausea, dizziness, or redness where the injection was given.