COVID-19 vaccinations in workplaces

Using COVID-19 vaccines in workplaces to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Rollout of COVID-19 vaccines

The Australian Government is making the COVID-19 vaccines available to as many people in Australia as possible in 2021, with Australia's COVID-19 vaccines being made available in phases.

There are limited doses of COVID-19 vaccines available initially. The vaccine will be safe, free and universal. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will help protect you from getting sick from COVID-19.

Latest advice on the vaccine roll out in Victoria

This guidance discusses COVID-19 vaccines 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 health directions issued by the Victorian Chief Health Officer relating to COVID-19 vaccinations.

For the latest advice about COVID-19 vaccinations, go to coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccines.

WorkSafe Victoria will review guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations regularly in line with public health advice and the rollout of vaccinations in the community.

COVID-19 vaccines as a control measure

The COVID-19 vaccine is one control measure for COVID-19. It should be considered part of a broader range of controls to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in workplaces.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (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.

The controls an employer uses will vary depending on the situation, as well as the availability and suitability of controls for each workplace.

Employers need to continue implementing control measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 according to the hierarchy of controls.

Control measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • physically isolating, for example by allowing employees to work from home where it is reasonably practicable
  • creating workplace bubbles to minimise contact between employees, for example keeping employees on different shifts separate by using different entry and exit points
  • maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others
  • wearing a face mask when required, unless a lawful exception applies
  • everyone practising good hygiene by regularly washing their hands or using hand sanitiser
  • ensuring employees who feel unwell do not go to work – they should get tested at a nearby testing location and return home immediately

You must also continue to follow any health directions that apply to how you operate your business.

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.

Consultation involves:

  • sharing information with employees about the matter
  • giving employees a reasonable opportunity to express views
  • taking those views into account

Where workers 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 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 legislation, 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 will not be entitled to compensation if they suffer only mild symptoms due to the vaccine, such as feeling tired, headache, nausea, dizziness, or redness where the injection was given. 

Information on how workers can lodge a claim