Before you start
The internal review process doesn't apply to complaints about how workplace visits are conducted.
Call our Advisory service for more information.
WorkSafe inspectors can:
- issue an improvement notice to an employer if they decide a workplace activity involves a risk to health and safety, or
- take no action
WorkSafe's Internal Review Unit (IRU) can review most inspector decisions (or non-decisions).
Certain people affected by a decision can apply for a review. The review process is quick and straightforward.
The review process
The IRU can review most inspector decisions (or non-decisions) made under the:
- Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act)
- Dangerous Goods Act 1985 (DG Act)
- Equipment (Public Safety) Act 1994 (EPS Act)
If our inspectors believe a workplace activity involves a health and safety risk, they can issue an improvement notice to the employer.
The employer can dispute the decision and ask for an independent internal review because they believe the activity is safe.
Alternatively, an inspector may decide that a workplace activity is safe and take no action.
An affected employee or, in some cases, a health and safety representative (HSR) may believe the activity is unsafe and that the inspector should have issued a notice.
They can dispute the decision and ask for an internal review.
Who can ask for a review?
Anyone considered to be an 'eligible person' can ask for a review.
Generally, an eligible person is:
- a person who received a notice (for example, a company that was issued with a notice)
- an employee or employer affected by the decision
- a HSR who represents a person affected by the decision
- a HSR who directed work to stop
- a HSR who issued a provisional improvement notice
- any other person affected by the decision (in relation to the DG Act or the EPS Act)
To apply for a review, complete the form online or download it and email it to the IRU.
You must make your application within 14 days after the day you first became aware of the notice. However, in some situations, the IRU may give you more time.
How internal reviews work
The IRU will let you know we’ve received your application. We’ll also contact other relevant people.
We will consider the inspector’s decision and any information you provide. This includes information the inspector had when making their decision.
We may ask you and other relevant people for more information. The IRU may also visit your workplace.
We’ll talk with you about any relevant information. The inspector who made the original decision will be asked to talk about any new or additional information.
If you’ve applied for a review but you’re not the employer of the workplace, we will let the employer know about the internal review application. They will be invited to provide information.
We may also advise a relevant HSR about the internal review and invite them to provide information.
How long does it take?
We must complete most internal reviews within 14 days for a WorkSafe inspector's decision.
There are some exceptions. These include reviews relating to:
- a certification (or decision not to certify) that a contravention identified in an improvement notice has been remedied
- a prohibition notice banning an activity until the risk identified in the notice is remedied
- a certification (or decision not to certify) that matters that caused an inspector to issue a prohibition notice have been remedied
In these cases, we must make a decision within 7 days of your application.
Can I withdraw the application?
You can withdraw an application by writing to the IRU.
You might do this for many reasons, including that you have now complied with the notice.
What decisions can be reviewed?
Most decisions (or non-decisions) made by an inspector can be internally reviewed.
You can find reviewable decisions in:
- section 127 of the OHS Act
- section 20 of the DG Act
- section 24 of the EPS Act
You can ask us to review an inspector’s decision if it involves:
- issuing an improvement notice
- issuing a prohibition notice
- issuing a non-disturbance notice
- affirming or cancelling a provisional improvement notice
- determining unresolved particulars of designated work groups
- appointing a person to conduct an election of a HSR
- determining employees had a reasonable cause for safety concerns
- returning or forfeiting seized things
- certifying that issues related to a direction to stop an activity on an improvement notice have been fixed
- certifying that a risk identified in a prohibition notice has been remedied
- failing or refusing to make any of these decisions
These decisions can be affirmed, varied or set aside by the IRU. The inspector’s decision can also be stayed while the review is taking place.
Asking for a stay of a decision
An eligible person can ask for the decision being reviewed to be stayed.
An application to stay a decision should apply to the decision being reviewed.
The IRU must make a decision within 24 hours on whether to stay an application. It may attach conditions to the stay.
If a decision is not made within 24 hours, it is understood that the IRU has granted a stay.
When a stay is granted, the decision being reviewed is only stayed until the IRU has completed its review.
Does the original decision apply during the review?
You must still follow any interim directions or other requirements from the inspector’s decision.
Unless the decision has been stayed, an application to the IRU doesn't change that decision during the review.
How will I know the outcome?
The IRU must give you our decision in writing and provide the reasons, findings and evidence used in making this decision.
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
If you're not satisfied with a decision by the IRU, you can apply to VCAT for review of that decision.
You must make your application to VCAT to review that decision within 14 days of becoming aware of it.
This information is based on the OHS Act, the DG Act and the EPS Act.
It should not be considered a legal document or a substitute for these Acts.
For more information, contact the IRU or WorkSafe Advisory service on 1800 136 089
You can find application forms on our website or any WorkSafe office.