Current OH&S Issues

NEW   COVID 19 - Temporary Changes to Incident Notification requirements for employers and self employed persons.

WorkSafe Victoria have amended the Incident Notification reporting requirements due to COVID 19. The changes commenced on Tuesday 28 July 2020 and are for a 12 month period.

The changes require duty holders to notify WorkSafe immediately after becoming aware that

  • an employee, independent contractor, employee of the independent contractor or self-employed person has received a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) and;
  • the employee, independent contractor, employee of the independent contractor or self-employed person has attended the workplace within the relevant infection period.

To notify WorkSafe call 13 23 60 and lodge details of the “incident” and then WorkSafe will email you a link to an online incident notification form which must be completed within 48 hours.

WorkSafe may send an inspector out to ensure that duty holders are looking after the health, safety and welfare of workers with regard to safe systems of work due to COVID 19. A penalty will apply for failing to notify WorkSafe under section 38 of the OHS Act – up to $39,652 (240 penalty units) for an individual or $198,264 (1200 penalty units) for a body corporate.

Note that the existing Incident Notification requirements still exist and, amongst a variety of reasons for notification, still require a duty holder to notify WorkSafe Victoria of any infectious disease in the workplace where there has been immediate inpatient treatment or the disease is the cause (or suspected cause) of a death.

If you need safety assistance please call the Farm Safety Extension Officer on 0499772472. This service is free.


There's no doubt that agriculture is one of the most challenging, varied and rewarding jobs that people can choose to do. But it's also one of the most dangerous environments to work in. It's a confronting fact that, last year, almost half of all workplace deaths in Victoria involved some sort of machinery or heavy vehicles. This makes them the most dangerous hazards in Victorian workplaces - and farms one of the leading risk environments for workplace accidents.

Above all, we must prioritise the safety of our employees, our families and ourselves.

Safety is, and always must be, our highest priority because we all deserve to go home to our loved ones after a hard day's work.

While there are a lot of farmers who are providing exemplary on-farm safety practices, there are also farms that find understanding and applying safety practices a difficult task to ensure all the correct measures are in place.

The VFF offers several comprehensive, free-of-charge health and safety services for Victorian farmers that can be accessed by calling the VFF on 1300 882 833.

So whether you need advice on safety around farm machinery, inductions or COVID 19 give us a call to use the resources we have on offer to ensure the highest possible safety practices are in place across your farm.

Quad Bike Safety REBATE ENDS

The Victorian State Government quad bike rebate scheme closed on 30 June 2020.

Quad bikes are an essential piece of machinery for some farms but also feature in a number of farm fatalities each year. Let’s look at the health and safety requirements where the quad bike is the right vehicle for the job. These requirements, like with all farm machinery, can be broken up into categories of the Machinery (eg Quad Bike), the operator and safe systems of work. Safety requirements include:

The Quad Bike

  • Maintaining the quad bike as per the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Put an Operator Protective Device* on the quad bike where there is a risk of roll over
  • Consider doing a pre-operational check of your quad bikes before use, especially as changes in tyre pressure can increase bike instability.
  • Where the bike is going onto public roads ensuring the bike is appropriately registered and the operator has a current motor vehicle license.

The Operator of the quad bike

  • Provide training for the operator and supervise them until they are competent
  • Ensure no-one under 16 rides an adult bike nor allows any passengers on a quad bike
  • Wear appropriate clothing and PPE– work boots, long trousers, shirt/jacket and a helmet
  • Induct the operator in the various tasks the quad bike is used for

Safe Systems of Work for quad bike use

  • Ensure that any loads whether carried on the bike or towed are within the manufacturers specifications
  • Consider the environment the bike is being used in and modify use appropriately e.g. when on unstable or hilly terrain, in poor weather conditions, working in the dark.
  • Consider safety when loading quad bikes on utes or trailers
  • Consider whether there should be any “No Go Zones” on the farm and if needed then strictly enforce this rule
  • Set and enforce speed limits for areas of the farm

Operator Protective Devices can be purchased from Quad Bar Industries and ATV Lifeguards. If you have questions around quad bike safety give the Workplace Relations team a call on 1300 882 833


A new offence of workplace manslaughter has been introduced into Victorian occupational health and safety laws and applies to a workplace death that occurs after 1 July 2020. The offence may also apply even when the death of the person occurs some time after the relevant conduct, for example where an employee developed a chemical exposure-related disease.

If convicted of workplace manslaughter, penalties that can apply are a maximum of 25 years imprisonment for individuals; and a maximum fine of $16.5 million for body corporates. If you are already complying with your OHS duties you will not need to do anything different.

Elements of the offence : The elements of the new workplace manslaughter offence are:

  • they must have owed the victim a specified duty under the OHS Act
  • the breach of the duty caused the death of the victim, and
  • the conduct was negligent

Who can be charged with workplace manslaughter?

Organisations and self-employed persons who hold specified duties under the OHS Act (as outlined below) can be prosecuted for the offence of workplace manslaughter. Organisations include bodies corporate (for example, registered companies), incorporated associations, statutory authorities, trustee of a trust, unincorporated bodies and unincorporated associations, and partnerships.

Officers of body corporates, partnerships, and unincorporated bodies or associations may also be charged with the offence of workplace manslaughter if their organisation holds specified duties under the OHS Act.

Negligent conduct: For the purposes of workplace manslaughter, conduct will be considered 'negligent' if it involves a great falling short of the standard of care that a reasonable person would have taken in the circumstances, and a high risk of death, serious injury or serious illness.

The test is based on the criminal standard for negligence in Victoria.

The VFF offers several comprehensive, free-of-charge health and safety services for Victorian farmers that can be accessed by calling the VFF on 1300 882 833.

NFF and Safe Work Australia launch Farm Safety series

Not sure about how to do a risk assessment? The NFF, together with Safe Work Australia, have partnered to bring you two short videos with four simple steps to guide you through the legal process.

Watch these videos and you’ll see that things you do every day are probably already helping to meeting your legal obligations

Assessing stockyard risks

For farmer and vet, Tom Graham, safe cattle yard design has a dual benefit of keeping people safe and saving money by avoiding costly injury to prize cattle who might otherwise go through a section of old rails and break a leg.

Assessing machinery guarding risks

Peter O’Connor is a broadacre farmer from Harden NSW. An incident involving a roof fall triggered a renewed safety focus on the 8,000 ha, O’Connor family farm, ‘Oxton Park’.

Child Safety On Farms

The subject of child safety on farms has been well documented in the past. However, with the recent release of the coroner’s report which investigated the tragic events of last year where a four year old child was fatally injured on the family farm, it is a good time to revisit this topic.

Although it is accepted that the farm is also the home, there is still a real need to establish specific farm safety rules. Farm vehicles and mobile machinery account for almost three times as many young children being killed in rural areas of Australia as compared to their city counterparts and twice as many are killed as pedestrians in low speed impacts with vehicles. Ensure high traffic areas and areas where heavy machinery is operating or being worked on are deemed ‘No-Go Zones’ to small children. Instead establish a safe play area for children, such as a securely fenced house yard.

Farm rules go a long way to ensuring that we only get peace and quiet during school hours.

An ideal place to begin when making the decision to ensure your farm is as safe for children as possible is to conduct a Risk Assessment. To make this task less daunting, it is best to follow a simple farm safety checklist. The following checklist has been developed by Farmsafe Australia Inc. and is not intended to be a substitute for a comprehensive on farm safety inspection and occupational health and safety management system.