Overview of OHS and related legislation

There are a number of Acts, Regulations and Codes of Practice which have relevance to the health and safety of workers in Victoria. This page provides an overview of the OHS legislative system in Victoria.  You can find more detailed information on each of the regulations under that section.


  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • Dangerous Goods Act 1985
  • Equipment (Public Safety) Act 1994
  • Road Transport (Dangerous Goods) Act 1995
  • Road Transport Reform (Dangerous Goods) Act 1995 (Commonwealth)
  • Workplace Injury, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013
  • Mines Act 1958

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2004

As of July 1, the main act covering OHS is the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2004.  The original Act was introduced in Victoria in 1985 - the 2004 Act replaced that Act following a review undertaken by Chris Maxwell, QC.

Objects of the Act (S2)

The Act is designed to provide a broad framework for improving standards of workplace health and safety to reduce work-related injury and illness. It allows duty-holders to determine their approach to achieving compliance with the Act.

The Act aims to:

  • secure the health, safety and welfare of employees and other people at work;
  • protect the public from the health and safety risks of business activities;
  • eliminate workplace risks at the source; and
  • involve employers, employees and the organisations that represent them in the formaulation and implementation of health, safety and welfare standards.

Throughout the Act, the meaning of health includes psychological health as well as physical health.

The principles of health and safety protection (S4)

The 2004 Act now has the following health and safety principles:

  • all people are given the highest level of health and safety protection that is reasonably practicable;
  • those who manage or control activities that give rise, or may give rise, to risks to health or safety are responsible for eliminating or reducing health and safety risks, so far as is reasonably practicable;
  • employers and self-employed people should be proactive and take reasonably practicable measures to ensure health and safety in their business activities;
  • employers and employees should exchange information about risks to health or safety and measures that can be taken to eliminate or reduce those risks; and
  • employees are entitled, and should be encouraged, to be represented on health and safety issue.

Who is covered by the Act? (S5 & S6)

All Victorian workers are provided with protection under this Act.  This includes employees, contractors, sub-contractors, outworkers and employees in State Government departments and instrumentalities.  However, employees of the Commonwealth Government are covered by different OHS and Workers' Compensation  legislation (more information) under Comcare.  The Act also provides protection for the general public so that their health and safety is not placed at risk by work activities.

For more information, go to the section on the OHS Act.

Equipment (Public Safety) Act 1994 (S.R. No. 21/1994) and the Equipment (Public Safety) General Regulations 1995

This Act and its Regulations are intended to ensure prescribed equipment and equipment sites do not endanger the public. Thus is is for plant that is used or intended to be used in non-workplaces.

Examples of activities covered by this Legislation are:

  • operation of amusement rides in a park;
  • plant used at a fete organised by volunteers from a community or charitable organisation; and
  • prescribed equipment used in a domestic situation.

Plant used or intended to be used in workplaces:

  • Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004
  • OHS Regulations 2007 (chapters on Plant and Licences)
  • Code of Practice for Plant 1995 (until a Compliance Code is developed)

Copies of the all the Acts are available from Information Victoria on 1300 366 356 or downloaded from the Victorian Law Today website.


Regulations set out mandatory requirements consistent with the Act (or Acts) under which they are made.  On July 1, 2017, the previous Regulations made under the OHS Act 1985 were replaced by the consolidated Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017. More Information on the consolidated regulation.  Summaries of all the key chapters of OHS regulations are on this section of the website.


The remaining relevant regulations are:

  • Dangerous Goods (Explosives) Regulations 2011
  • Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012
  • Dangerous Goods (Transport) Regulations 1987
  • Dangerous Goods (Transport by Road or Rail) Regulations 2018 (commenced October 25, 2018)
  • Dangerous Goods (High consequence dangerous goods - HCDG) Regulations 2016
  • Equipment (Public Safety) (Incident Notification) Regulations 1997
  • Equipment (Public Safety) (General) Regulations 1995
  • Road Transport (Dangerous Goods) (License Fees) Regulations 2008
  • Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Regulations 2014

(Copies of the OHS Act, other Acts and Regulations can purchased from Information Victoria (1300 366 356). The full text of any piece of Victorian legislation is accessible through the Victorian Law Today page of the Victorian Government Legislation Repository website.)

Last amended October 2018


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