Overview of Occupational Health and Safety

    Vicarious trauma is an occupational health and safety issue.

    In Victoria, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 includes psychological health under the definition of ‘health.’ As the risk of vicarious trauma is a risk to workers’ psychological health, preventing and responding to vicarious trauma therefore falls under the legislative framework of the Act.

    The Act lists five principles of health and safety protection (s. 4) that all apply to organisational responses to the risk of vicarious trauma:

    1. The importance of health and safety requires that employees, other persons at work and members of the public be given the highest level of protection against risks to their health and safety that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.

    2. Persons who control or manage matters that give rise or may give rise to risks to health or safety are responsible for eliminating or reducing those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

    3. Employers and self-employed persons should be proactive, and take all reasonably practicable measures, to ensure health and safety at workplaces and in the conduct of undertakings.

    4. Employers and employees should exchange information and ideas about risks to health and safety and measures that can be taken to eliminate or reduce those risks.

    5. Employees are entitled, and should be encouraged, to be represented in relation to health and safety issues.

    This video explains the obligations of employers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic).

    The below resources provide further information and guidance about the OHS framework in Victoria.