On-the-spot fines for unsafe worksites in Victoria

July 28, 2021
FCB Workplace Law

Industry Focus

Infrastructure & Construction

By Adrian Turner

WorkSafe Victoria will soon commence issuing infringement notices to businesses operating hazardous and unsafe worksites, with financial fines of up to 10 penalty units, or $1817.40 on a range of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) offences.

The new enforcement mechanism stems from the 2018 election commitment from the Victorian Government and will provide WorkSafe with a more direct and swifter alternative to prosecution for employers who are non-compliant with their key OH&S obligations.

WorkSafe has stated that infringement notices can be issued for a range of fundamental offences including:

  • a person undertaking work without a required license, registration, qualification, experience or supervision;
  • the use of equipment or substances that are not licensed or registered as required;
  • failing to meet various duties relating to the removal and storage of asbestos; and
  • failure to keep various required records.

The workplace safety regulator has stated that the infringement notice scheme is designed to strengthen its compliance and enforcement capability and act as an additional deterrent to help keep Victorian workplaces safe.

Fines under the new scheme will vary depending on the nature of the offence and range from 0.5 penalty units to 10 penalty units ($1817.40) for a corporation and up to two penalty units ($363.48) for an individual.

The ‘on the spot’ regime augments WorkSafe’s primary enforcement mechanism, being the investigation and prosecution of breaches of the OHS Act in the courts – which itself leads to extreme financial penalties for corporations, and in serious cases, criminal prosecution for individuals.

What does this mean for employers?

An employer’s fundamental duties and obligations under OH&S law have not changed.  Principally, employers have obligations under OH&S legislation to do whatever is reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of their employees in the workplace.

If you have any questions about how this it may affect your workplace, feel free to contact the team at FCB Group.