WorkSafe Victoria has introduced new regulations which require all employers to report active cases of COVID-19 to the statutory authority, or face fines for failing to do so.
On 29 July 2020, WorkSafe Victoria announced new regulations in which employers are now required to notify WorkSafe immediately on becoming aware that an employee or contractor has attended the workplace during the ‘infectious period’ following a positive diagnosis of COVID-19.
It is important to note that self-employed persons, for example an electrician or a plumber, are also required to directly inform WorkSafe immediately on receiving a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis if they have attended the workplace during the infectious period.
WorkSafe define the ‘infectious period’ as “the date 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms or a confirmed diagnosis (whichever comes first), until the day on which the person receives a clearance from isolation from the Department of Health and Human Services.”
If the employer fails to notify WorkSafe under section 38 of the OHS Act, it can result in fines of up to $39,652 for an individual or $198,264 for a body corporate.
The new regulations are temporary and came into force on 28 July, with the plan to remain in place for 12 months.
WorkSafe Victoria have emphasised that timely notification of a potential workplace transmission of COVID 19 is critical for the effective management of health and safety-related risks and the prompt investigation of potential breaches of employer duties.
To notify WorkSafe of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, employers or self-employed persons should call the WorkSafe advisory service on 13 23 60.
WorkSafe have also developed a step-by-step guide on how to report a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Should you, as an employer, require further information or assistance to develop a COVID-19 plan for your workplace, please do not hesitate to contact the Chamber’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing team on 03 8662 5196.