*Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations
On this page
- Introduction to the OHS Act
- Introduction to OHS Regulations
- Introduction to guidance
- Introduction to Compliance Codes
- Explanation of policy
In Victoria, workplace health and safety is governed by a system of laws, regulations and compliance codes which set out the responsibilities of employers and workers to ensure that safety is maintained at work.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 is the cornerstone of legislative and administrative measures to improve occupational health and safety in Victoria.
The Act sets out the key principles, duties and rights in relation to occupational health and safety. The general nature of the duties imposed by the Act means that they cover a very wide variety of circumstances, do not readily date and provide considerable flexibility for a duty holder to determine what needs to be done to comply.
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 are made under the Act. They specify the ways duties imposed by the Act must be performed, or prescribe procedural or administrative matters to support the Act, such as requiring licenses for specific activities, keeping records, or notifying certain matters.
The new Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 and Equipment (Public Safety) Regulations 2017 commenced on 18 June 2017.
Effective OHS regulation requires that WorkSafe provides clear, accessible advice and guidance about what constitutes compliance with the Act and Regulations. This can be achieved through Compliance Codes, WorkSafe Positions and non-statutory guidance ('the OHS compliance framework'). For a detailed explanation of the OHS compliance framework, see the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Compliance Framework Handbook.
Compliance Codes provide practical guidance to those who have duties or obligations under the OHS Act. They aim to provide easy to understand information on how to comply.
This information, if applied appropriately, will mean those who follow it are deemed to have complied with their obligations under the OHS Act.
With the new OHS Regulations 2017 having commenced in June 2017, the compliance codes that align with the regulations are now under review. In consultation with stakeholders, WorkSafe has updated the codes, and are making them available for public comment. Find out more about the compliance codes review on the public consultation website.
Not every term in the legislation is defined or explained in detail. Also, sometimes new circumstances arise (like increases in non-standard forms of employment, such as casual, labour hire and contract work, or completely new industries with new technologies which produce new hazards and risks) which could potentially impact on the reach of the law, or its effective administration by WorkSafe. Therefore, from time to time WorkSafe must make decisions about how it will interpret something that is referred to in legislation, or act on a particular issue, to ensure clarity. In these circumstances, WorkSafe will develop a policy. A policy is a statement of what WorkSafe understands something to mean, or what WorkSafe will do in certain circumstances.