WorkSafe and public safety

Have you ever thought about:

  • how jumping castles can be safer for your children?
  • how DIY equipment hire stores provide appropriate information to their customers who want to hire items?
  • how to use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders safely?
  • how schools keep students safe?

WorkSafe ensures that Victorian employers protect the health and safety of members of the public as well as anyone else who could be affected by their businesses. Customers, suppliers, visitors and volunteers must receive the same protection as employees.

Concerned about a workplace?

If you or a member of the general public are concerned about an employer's or workplace's conduct, please contact WorkSafe's Advisory service.

What the law says about public safety in Victoria

For WorkSafe, public safety is covered by four acts of the Victorian Parliament.

Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act)

Public safety aspects:

  • Section 2(1)(c) (Object): To ensure that the health and safety of members of the public is not placed at risk by the conduct of undertakings by employers and self-employed persons.
  • Section 23(1): An employer must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees of the employer are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the undertaking of the employer.
  • Section 24(1): A self-employed person must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the undertaking of the self-employed person.

While the OHS Act is focused on the safety of employees, it has a very broad public safety component. Essentially any health and safety hazard created as a result of work or work-related activities can be considered under the public safety scope of the OHS Act.

These aspects are the primary public safety duties which are expanded upon in the more specific requirements of the OHS Act (for example, design of plant and buildings).

Dangerous Goods Act 1985

Public safety aspect:

  • Section 4(a) (Objective): To promote the safety of persons and property in relation to the manufacture, storage, transport, transfer, sale and use of dangerous goods and the import of explosives into Victoria.

Except where hazards will only impact employees, the entirety of the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 can be considered public safety.

Road Transport Reform (Dangerous Goods) Act 1995

Public safety aspect:

  • Section 1 (Purpose): To regulate the transport of dangerous goods by road in Victoria in order to promote public safety and protect property and environment.

The purpose of this act is to protect the public from dangerous goods in transit. Its entire scope can be considered public safety.

Equipment (Public Safety) Act 1994

Public safety aspect:

  • Section 1 (Purpose): The main purpose of this Act is to provide for public safety in relation to prescribed equipment and equipment sites.

This Act was bought into being solely to protect the public from all health and safety risks arising from 'prescribed equipment'. The list of 'prescribed equipment' is defined in the Equipment (Public Safety) Regulations 2017.