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Disease control – vaccination

Last updated March 2022

This chapter explains how to manage the health and safety risk of disease, particularly COVID-19, by mandating vaccination among your workforce.

Managing the risk of spreading disease in the workplace

You have a general duty to, so far as reasonably practicable, eliminate or reduce the risk of disease or viruses, including COVID-19, in the workplace.

Vaccination is an effective way to minimise the risk of spreading diseases and viruses, and in the case of COVID-19, lessening the chance of suffering severe symptoms that may cause loss of life. As such, enforcing mandatory vaccinations for workers is a high order risk control measure against COVID-19.

Important: To make vaccination mandatory in your business, you will need to implement a mandatory vaccination policy.

When deciding whether to make vaccination mandatory, you should consider the effectiveness and practicality of other risk control measures, such as:

  • working from home arrangements;
  • hygiene;
  • personal protective equipment; and
  • social distancing.
Tip: It is likely you will need to implement multiple risk control measures, including mandatory vaccination, to effectively reduce the risk of COVID-19 in your workforce.
Important: Managing the risk of spreading disease in the workplace is not only important to keep your workers safe and meet your health and safety obligations; it may also reduce the risk of workers’ compensation claims.
Caution: As with any other illness or injury sustained at work, workers’ compensation may be payable for a worker contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.

Case Law: Sara v G & S Sara Pty Ltd (2021)

In Sara v G & S Sara Pty Ltd (2021), the Personal Injury Commission found an employee contracted and died from COVID-19 in the ‘course of his employment’.

The worker contracted COVID-19 and died while working in New York with a business that was part of a group of companies that provided dental technician products and services across the healthcare sector in Australia and the United States.

The worker’s widow was paid death benefits of more than $800,000.