Laws and regulations

In Victoria, WorkSafe Victoria is responsible for administering the OHS laws and for workers' compensation. 

There are a number of Victorian laws that protect workers but the Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004), is the most important OHS act (legislation) in Victoria. The Act sets out how businesses must act to ensure the health and safety of their workers. These laws apply to all workplaces.

All employers are required to provide, as far as is practical, a safe and healthy workplace for themselves, their workers and anybody who may be affected by their activities. Employees, on the other hand, must follow reasonable instructions relating to health and safety and must avoid putting others at risk. The laws also make clear the importance of communicating and consulting with workers so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to making workplaces safe.

As well as the OHS laws, there are OHS regulations. These regulations set out more specific requirements for particular hazards and, like laws, they must be followed.  The regulations cover a range of OHS areas including:

  • specifying such things as machines being fitted with a red stop button
  • setting safety limits on noise levels (85 DBA)
  • requiring certain processes to be followed (eg. consulting with workers, assessing risks, investigating incidents).

Most businesses follow the OHS laws and regulations but when they don't WorkSafe Victoria can work with the business to help them improve their OHS practices. In some cases, usually only when a serious incident has occurred, WorkSafe will prosecute the company. Prosecution is the "last resort" - the final penalty for breaking the law. 

Find out more

Go to:

Young workers for information about legal duties and young workers' rights and responsibilities.

Worker Rights & Responsibilities for a brief summary of the legal rights and responsibilities of employees under the OHS law and their rights to compensation if they are injured.

Employer Rights & Responsibilities for a brief summary of the legal rights and responsibilities of employers under the OHS law and the obligations of employers to take out worker's compensation insurance and manage any claims that arise out of the workplace.

Guide to the OHS Act 2004 for a guide to the requirements of the OHS Act and the different responsibilities of different people such as employers, designers and manufacturers.