Large fines now apply for ECEC employers who do not report COVID-19 cases
WorkSafe Victoria has advised that large fines are now applicable for employers not reporting COVID-19 cases under temporary Occupational Health and Safety (COVID-19 Incident Notification) Regulations 2020 (OHS COVID-19 Regulations) which commenced on Tuesday 28 July 2020.
Employers, including those operating in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, face penalties of up to $39,642 for individuals and $198,264 for a body corporate for failing to notify WorkSafe under section 38 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act).
Previously, employers were not required to notify WorkSafe Victoria of an infectious disease in the workplace, unless immediate inpatient treatment is required or the disease is the cause (or suspected cause) of a death.
As a result of the current pandemic situation in Victoria, a state of emergency, WorkSafe Victoria have advised that timely notification of potential workplace transmission “is critical for efficient and effective management of related health and safety risks, and the prompt investigation of potential breaches of employer duties.”
The OHS COVID-19 Regulations will now extend the operation of Part 5 of the OHS Act to require duty holders to notify WorkSafe if:
- an employer becomes aware that an employee or independent contractor engaged by the employer, and any employees of the independent contractor, has received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and has attended the workplace within the infectious period (being 14 days prior to receiving the confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and until clearance from isolation has been received); or,
- a self-employed person has received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and has attended the workplace within the infectious period (being 14 days prior to receiving the confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and until clearance from isolation has been received).
The OHS COVID-19 Regulations are temporary in nature and will expire 12 months after their making. WorkSafe will review the proposed OHS COVID-19 Regulations during the 12-month period of operation.
To notify WorkSafe of a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnosis, employers or self-employed persons should call the WorkSafe advisory service on 13 23 60.
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