Occupational health and safety (OHS) laws and regulations apply to all businesses, including your brothel or escort agency.
You must provide a safe environment for your sex workers, office staff and contractors as well as clients and visitors.
Steep penalties can apply for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.
OHS: what you need to know and do
You must comply with OHS laws at your workplace, regardless of whether you have employees, independent contractors, freelance or casual staff.
As a licensee, you must:
- provide a healthy and risk-free work environment
- ensure the physical and psychological safety of your employees, contractors and visitors, including eliminating risks whenever practicable
- discuss and consult with all people working at your business when assessing workplace risks, or making decisions on health and safety issues affecting them
- follow procedures relating to workplace injuries (see below).
Employees and self-employed people (such as a contractor) must also take reasonable care for their own and others’ health and safety, and cooperate with their employer’s workplace safety measures.
WorkSafe Victoria is the regulatory body responsible for health and safety laws in Victoria.
A WorkSafe Victoria inspector may enter your brothel during work hours to inspect, examine and ask questions. They may also enter if they reasonably believe that there is an immediate risk to the health and safety of anyone as a result of the work being carried out.
WorkSafe Victoria inspectors have the power to:
- check whether you are complying with OHS laws
- enforce your compliance
- rule on unresolved or disputed OHS matters
- advise and guide you
- promote and discuss effective management of OHS issues
- promote and discuss representative arrangements in your brothel.
Issues concerning sexual health and infectious diseases are investigated by the Department of Health.
You are responsible for identifying and resolving workplace safety hazards in your brothel.
Common hazards are:
- those which could result in slips, trips and falls
- violence, including threats, harassment and bullying
If an injury occurs at your brothel, you must:
You must call 000 if there is an emergency at your brothel.
WorkSafe injury insurance covers employers for compensating employees who are injured or become ill because of their work. This includes replacement of lost income, medical and rehabilitation treatment costs, legal costs or lump sum compensation for a severe injury.
- know your obligations
- understand what to do if an employee claims compensation.
For more information visit the WorkSafe Victoria website, or, if you receive a workers compensation claim, call WorkSafe Victoria on 03 9641 1444.
We recommend that you arrange for all brothel staff to be trained in effective cleaning and infection control. Your brothel must have clear guidelines about who is responsible for cleaning up potentially infectious waste, when it needs to be done and who can give advice if you need help.
You must arrange cleaning of all:
- sex work rooms
- toilets and bathrooms
- kitchen and food preparation areas
- break out rooms
- swimming pools and spas
- heating and cooling systems
- gardens and entrances.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria issues guidelines for disposal of hazardous waste. The Department of Health inspects brothels for health issues including cleaning and infection control.
You can help ensure you are meeting your OHS obligations by providing proper cleaning equipment, including gloves and appropriate footwear, for sex workers who also undertake cleaning duties.
You must supply clean linen and towels for each client or you could face a penalty.
Alcohol and drugs
Your sex work premises may be inspected for alcohol. You must not sell, supply, consume or permit alcohol to be supplied or consumed on the premises.
If a Consumer Affairs Victoria inspector finds drugs at a sex work premises they will notify the police.
Children over 18 months must not be allowed on sex work premises.
All sex workers must be over the age of 18.