Proposed changes to Victorian occupational health and safety laws
17 July 2021
A proposed change to occupational health and safety laws may mean that not-for-profit organisations will be prohibited from using insurance or indemnity arrangements to avoid liability for penalties for offences under workplace health and safety law.
What are the changes?
The Victorian Government introduced the Occupational Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (the bill) to parliament last month.
If the bill is passed, changes to occupational health and safety laws in Victoria will include:
- improving the rights and protections for labour hire workers by making it clear that host organisations owe health and safety obligations to their labour hire workers
- prohibiting contracts that insure or indemnify a person against paying monetary penalties under workplace safety laws
- giving health and safety representatives and authorised employee representatives new powers to take photographs, measurements, sketches and recordings when they act under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic)
- allowing WorkSafe inspectors to deliver notices and reports electronically, and
- simplifying procedures for disposing of or destroying property which has been seized by WorkSafe, where the owner of the property doesn’t want or need the property returned
What does it mean for not-for-profit organisations?
For not-for-profit organisations, the most relevant change is likely to be the prohibition on using insurance or indemnity arrangements to avoid liability for penalties for offences under workplace health and safety law.
If the bill is passed,
- existing insurance or indemnity arrangements that provide indemnity for the payment of penalties under workplace safety laws will be invalid, and
- it will be a criminal offence to give another party insurance or indemnity for liability to pay such penalties or to be a party to such an arrangement
What should not-for-profits do next?
Not-for-profits should check with their broker or insurance provider whether any of their existing insurance policies include these arrangements and confirm how the policy will change.
To find out more about the current occupational health and safety laws in Victoria, take a look at our work health and safety self-help resources.