Recent changes to OHS and other related legislation

The Occupational Health and Safety and other Legislation Amendment Act of 2021 became law as of Wednesday 22 September. Here’s what you need to know.

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This legislation amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), Dangerous Goods Act 1985 (DG Act), Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (WIRC Act) and the Equipment (Public Safety) Act 1994 (EPS Act). 

What are the changes and when do the amendments take effect?

The changes:

  • Provide additional rights and protections for labour hire workers under the OHS Act.
  • Prohibit businesses from using insurance or indemnity arrangements to avoid liability to pay monetary penalties for offences under certain Acts and Regulations administered by WorkSafe Victoria.
  • Streamline provisions for electronic delivery of certain notices and reports, and allow infringement notices to be served electronically.
  • Give authorised representatives of registered employee associations (ARREOs) and health and safety representatives (HSRs) additional powers to take photos or measurements or make sketches or recordings when they are exercising their functions under the OHS Act.
  • Simplify the procedures for disposing of or destroying property which has been seized by WorkSafe Victoria, where the owner of the property does not want or need the property returned.

All the amendments came into effect on Wednesday 22 September 2021, except for the labour hire provisions and the new offences relating to the prohibition on certain insurance and indemnities.

The amendments relating to labour hire will commence on Tuesday 22 March 2022. This is intended to give businesses six months to adapt to the new law. It will also give WorkSafe time to amend its processes and develop guidance.

The prohibition on contractual terms purporting to insure or indemnify a person against their liability to pay a monetary penalty under the OHS Act, the DG Act or the EPS Act, commenced on Wednesday 22 September 2021.

The prohibition applies to existing insurance and indemnity contracts. However, the offences relating to entering, offering, holding, and paying or receiving a benefit under prohibited insurance or indemnity contracts will not commence until Thursday 22 September 2022. This means that prohibited terms in contracts or other arrangements of insurance or indemnity will be void from Wednesday 22 September 2021 and no benefit can be claimed or provided under such a policy. A person cannot be charged with an offence until Thursday 22 September 2022.

 

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