Occupational health and safety legislative updates

In 2017, the amended Victorian regulations surrounding workplace occupational health and safety were brought into effect. These revised requirements replaced those that were detailed in Victoria’s 2007 OH&S regulatory guidelines.

If you’re a business operating in the Australian market, staying up-to-date on the latest legislative updates is crucial. This is because if you don’t, you’ll be putting yourself at risk of prosecution and, ultimately, compromising the safety of your employees.

Organisations are responsible for ensuring that their workers are physically and mentally out of harm’s way, to a reasonably practical extent. An individuals’ workplace must satisfy the standards set by Victorian occupational health and safety legislation, regardless of the tasks they’re completing.

Recent legislative updates have refined prior requirements, catering to the ever-changing business landscape. This has, in turn, brought forth various implications for businesses. Those to whom these changes are relevant will need to ensure they are aware of and in full compliance with the new regulatory guidelines.

Will your business be affected by any of the following changes to occupational health and safety? By establishing this, you can avoid being hit with considerable fines and, more importantly, keep your employees safe.


There are various types of work that involve machinery and equipment, many of which fall into the regulatory category of plant.

One of the key changes in plant legislation is that designers no longer have to keep their own copies of the information they supply to manufacturers. Under regulation 87 of the latest OH&S regulations, however, manufacturers are still legally obliged to keep records of all the information that designers provide them with. This change in legislation keeps safety standards intact, all the while lowering duplication and regulatory burden.

In addition to this, as per the amended OH&S regulations, designers and manufacturers of plant are only legally required to keep records for seven years. Previously, it was a requirement that information of this nature was kept for ten years.

It’s no longer mandatory for organisations to register the design of any lifts that are purely used in the transportation of goods, such as service lifts. To qualify, a particular lift must also have no operational controls on its’ interior.

Hazardous Manual Handling

WorkSafe defines Hazardous Manual Handling as:

Work requiring the use of force exerted by a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain.”

Actions of this nature typically involve repetitive movements, sustained awkward posture causing discomfort, direct contact with unstable or unbalanced loads and the like.

The out-dated occupational health and safety guidelines required that employers identified any tasks their employees completed that were considered to be hazardous manual handling. However, confusion around the meaning of ‘task’ prompted such references to be updated and refined.

The amended OH&S regulations now specify that employers must identify all work their employees complete that has the characteristics of hazardous manual handling. This aims to minimise and, ultimately, eliminate the misinterpretation of definitions that include this term.

The terminology used when describing a risk control trigger in regulation 3.1.3(1)(b) was also perceived as misleading and, thus, this section was removed. Previously, when using an object for a different purpose than that it was designed for, organisations were required to review any relevant risk control measures. As this specification was not widely understood or followed, it is no longer included in Victorian legislation.


Those working in the construction sector are exposed to an array of risks each day. At the least, your employees will likely be using heavy machinery or potentially dangerous tools, completing tasks at notable heights and lifting heavy objects. Legislative compliance is crucial in protecting the ongoing viability of your business and, of course, keeping your employees free of injury or illness.

A number of changes have been made to the guidelines that regulate occupational health and safety in the construction industry.

In the OH&S regulations from 2007, self-employed individuals were said to have the same duties as an employer. However, the 2017 version has recognised the different organisational contexts of these business types, removing this section. Instead, it has been established that a self-employed person has their own, individual duty to conduct business in compliance with regulatory guidelines.

If individuals are at risk of being engulfed by soil or the like, employers and those who are self-employed in the construction sector are now required to develop emergency procedures.

Want to find out more about the legislative updates that are relevant to your business? If you’re interested in improving your compliance with regulations, get in touch with our experienced team by calling 1300 132 745.

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