ISSUE #137 - COVID-19: New safety obligations for Victorian employers


31 July 2020

Employers should be aware that on 28 July 2020, two new obligations were introduced in Victoria to address the serious health and safety risks posed by the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

In summary, relevant employers are now required to:

  • immediately report confirmed cases of COVID-19 to WorkSafe Victoria; and
  • ensure employees wear a face covering when in the workplace.


Notifying WorkSafe Victoria

Under Regulations which took effect on 28 July 2020, Victorian employers must notify WorkSafe Victoria as soon as they become aware that an employee or an independent contractor (or any employee of an independent contractor) has received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and attended the workplace within the infectious period. 
The infectious period is defined as being (i) 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms consistent with COVID-19; or (ii) a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis (whichever of the two comes first), until the date on which the person receives a clearance from isolation from the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”).

To notify WorkSafe of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, employers should do so via telephone on the WorkSafe advisory service hotline on 13 23 60. 

Importantly, Victorian employers who fail to comply with the above new notification obligations may face fines of $198,264

Further information can be found HERE

Mandatory face coverings

For several weeks now, Victoria employers have been required not to permit employees to perform work at their premises where it is reasonably practicable for their employees to work from home.

Since 23 July 2020, everyone residing in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire must wear a face covering outside of their home, unless they have a lawful reason for not doing so.  This has now been extended to all persons residing in Victoria (from 11:59pm Sunday 2nd August 2020.


Importantly, employers in those areas now have a specific duty to take reasonable steps to ensure all employees wear face coverings at all times when working at the employer’s premises, unless an exception applies.  The valid exceptions include the following:

  • the employee is consuming food, drink or medicine;
  • the nature of an employee’s work means that wearing a face covering creates a risk to their health and safety;
  • the employee is travelling in a vehicle for work purposes by themselves.
  • the employee has a physical or mental health illness or condition or disability which makes wearing a face covering unsuitable;


Employers who fail to comply with the above requirements may be subject to fines of up to nearly  $100,000.

Further information can be found HERE


The new Regulations came into force on 28 July 2020 and will remain in place for 12 months.

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