Employers and employees have safety obligations and must jointly participate in determining safe working conditions and a stop-work option. It is a criminal offence to victimise employees who are active in asserting these rights. Unions can get an entry permit from the court to inspect and investigate workplaces. Improvement or prohibition notices may be issued, and penalties apply. Other issues include bullying and chemicals at work.


Stella Gold


Other workplace issues


In 2012, WorkSafe Victoria published Workplace Bullying: Prevention and Response (last updated in March 2020) as part of a campaign to highlight the issue of workplace bullying. The publication provides practical guidance for employers and employees in relation to preventing and addressing workplace bullying.

Employers and employees have been prosecuted for workplace bullying. For example, the owner of a cafe and a number of employees were successfully prosecuted in 2010 in a case in which a young waitress employed at the cafe committed suicide after she was relentlessly bullied at work.

Since 1 January 2014, victims of workplace bullying have been able to apply under the FW Act to the Commonwealth Fair Work Commission for orders to stop bullying.

The range of ‘workers’ covered by the FW Act’s anti-bullying provisions is broader than the range of ‘employees’ protected under the OHS Act 2004. However, the range of workplaces covered by the Commonwealth law is narrower than the range covered by the Victorian OHS Act 2004.

The eligibility guidelines are quite technical, so the Fair Work Commission has established a dedicated unit to assist would-be applicants.


In recent years, the general public has been made aware of the extremely dangerous nature of workplace chemicals such as asbestos. In response, governments throughout Australia have introduced laws regulating the handling, use and transport of chemicals.

These law are to ensure that employees who are required to work with chemicals are:

  • informed about the potential risks;
  • instructed and trained in the means by which those risks may be removed or reduced; and
  • provided with the necessary equipment including personal protective equipment.
  • The principal Victorian requirements are found in sections 21(2)(b) and 22 of the OHS Act 2004.

Workplace injuries

For information about the law relating to workplace injuries, see Chapter 10.3: Work injuries.

Back to
Rights, activism and fair treatment at work

Buy the chapter ‘Occupational health and safety’