OHS Act Amendments Come Into Operation
Amendments introduced under the WorkSafe Legislation Amendment Act 2017 passed by the Victorian Parliament in September have now come into operation.
Key changes include:
- Inspectors can require a person at a workplace to answer any question subject to OHS Act protections for self-incrimination and legal professional privilege;
- An offence has been created for an employer to discriminate against a person for raising a health and safety issue directly with WorkSafe (this is in addition to existing protections under the Act);
- Penalties for failing to notify WorkSafe of "notifiable incidents" has increased for individuals ($9,514.20 to $38,056.80) and companies ($47,571 to $190,284) indexed each year on 1 July;
- It is now an offence to contravene an "enforceable undertaking" Penalties for individuals is $79,285 and companies $396,425 (indexed each year on 1 July);
- Service of PINs (Provisional Improvement Notices) is now permitted by email;
- Prosecutions for breaches of the OHS Act can be commenced outside the two-year time limit i.e. where new evidence has been discovered. In addition proceedings can be commenced within one year of a Coronial report, inquiry or inquest;
These changes should be reflected in organisational protocols and communicated across the workforces. Specifically, protocols should set out requirements for incident notification, site preservation and incident management.