Objects & Principles of the OHS Act 2004

It is important for health and safety representatives (HSRs) and employees to be familiar with the Objects & Principles of the OHS Act 2004. The Objects & Principals provide information of the guiding purpose of the OHS Act which will give you a better understanding of the contents. 

Page Overview

Objects of the OHS Act (S2)

The OHS Act is designed to provide a broad framework for improving standards of health and safety at work 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 formulation and implementation of health, safety and welfare standards.

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

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The principles of health and safety protection (S4)

The 2004 Act was varied to include 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 issues.

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Who is covered by the OHS 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 legislation (more information).  The Act also provides protection for the general public so that their health and safety is not placed at risk by work activities.

The 2004 Act can be downloaded (in both pdf and word format) on the Victorian government legislation repository website.  (Copies of the OHS Act, other Acts and Regulations can be purchased from Information Victoria (1300 366 356).

Last amended September 2022

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