Do you know your WorkSafe requirements around COVID-19?

As our trusted clients, we wanted to make you well-aware of recent changes regarding COVID-19. As of 28 July 2020, Victorian employers are now required to notify WorkSafe immediately when they become aware that a worker has received a confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnosis. More precisely, an employer must notify WorkSafe as soon as they become alert that:

  • An employee, contractor, or an employee of a contractor has received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19; AND
  • The individual has attended the employer’s workplace in the 14-day period prior to the onset of symptoms or the confirmed diagnosis, whichever occurs first.

Self-employed persons are also required to notify WorkSafe under the regulations. This regulation will remain in place for the next 12 months.

The change comes into place under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and aims to assist WorkSafe to reduce the risks to health and safety in the workplace that are arising from COVID-19. We are now aware of high importance of timely notification of a worker that has tested positive, therefore the effective management of health and safety risks is critical.

Potential breaches of this employer duty will be swiftly investigated to ensure compliance. Failing to notify WorkSafe under section 38 of the OHS Act can lead to fines of up to $39,652 (240 penalty units) for an individual or $198,264 (1200 penalty units) for a body corporate.

What employers should do now

Victorian employers should review their incident notification policies to ensure that any COVID-19 case is reported to WorkSafe Victoria. You should also take hands-on action to remind workers of your companies COVID-19 Plan, policies and procedures, including:

  • Requiring workers to notify you if they have tested positive for COVID-19;
  • Directing workers to stay home if they are sick or displaying symptoms;
  • Instructing workers to notify you if they have been in close contact with a person who has had COVID-19;

Training workers on the use of PPE and appropriate hygiene measures;