Department of Health

Key messages

  • The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 establishes a number of offences.
  • The Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 establish as number of offences. 
  • The Act and the regulations fix the corresponding number of penalty units for each offence.
  • The value of a penalty unit for a financial year is fixed by the Treasurer.

The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008

The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 establishes a number of serious offences relating to such matters as:

  • Registration of a cooling tower system 
  • Develop risk management plan
  • Review risk management plan
  • Auditing of risk management plan 
  • Approved auditors

Some examples of penalties include the following:

  • Section 80 creates an offence for the owner of any land on which there is a cooling tower system to operate a cooling tower system unless the cooling tower is registered. The penalty for an individual is up to 120 penalty units; for a body corporate it is up to 600 penalty units. 
  • Section 87 creates an offence for an owner of the land on which there is a cooling tower system to fail to notify the department in writing, within 30 days, of the change in the ownership or in the address or other contact details.  The penalty for an individual is up to 10 penalty units; for a body corporate it is up to 50 penalty units.
  • Section 88 creates an offence for a person who holds a certificate of registration in respect to a cooling tower system to fail to notify the department in writing, within 30 days, after (a) the addition or removal of a cooling tower, to or from, the cooling tower system; (b) the removal, or decommissioning, of the cooling tower system; (c) the relocation of the cooling tower system. The penalty for an individual is up to 10 penalty units; for a body corporate it is up to 50 penalty units.
  • Section 91 creates an offence for an owner of the land on which there is a cooling tower system to operate a cooling tower system unless the owner has prepared a risk management plan (RMP). The penalty for an individual is up to 60 penalty units; for a body corporate it is up to 300 penalty units.
  • Section 92 requires the owner of the land on which there is a cooling tower system to review the risk management plan (RMP) and, if necessary, update the RMP at least once a year. The penalty for an individual is up to 60 penalty units; for a body corporate it is up to 300 penalty units
  • Section 93 requires the owner of the land on which there is a cooling tower system to ensure an audit is conducted annually in relation to a cooling tower system risk management plan.  The penalty for an individual is up to 60 penalty units; for a body corporate it is up to 300 penalty units
  • Section 94 (4) requires an approved auditor to comply with any conditions imposed on the certification by the department. The penalty for an individual is up to 60 penalty units.
  • Section 95 creates an offence for a person to conduct a risk management plan audit unless that person is an approved auditor. The penalty for an individual is up to 60 penalty units. 
  • Section 210(1) creates an offence for a person to give false and misleading information or produce documents that is false or misleading to the department or an authorised officer. The penalty for an individual is up to 60 penalty units; for a body corporate it is up to 300 penalty units.

Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 

The Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 describe the minimum requirements for maintaining a cooling tower system and establishes a number of serious offences relating to:  

  • Routine maintenance service of cooling tower systems 
  • Routine testing of cooling tower water  
  • Treatment of cooling tower water 
  • Responding to detection of high heterotrophic colony count (HCC) 
  • Responding to detection of Legionella
  • Notification of Legionella detection in a water sample to the department.

Some examples of penalties include the following:

  • Section 70 (1) requires the person who owns, manages, or controls a cooling tower system to ensure the cooling tower system is serviced at least once a month.  The maximum penalty for an individual is 20 penalty units. 
  • Section 70(2) requires the person who owns, manages, or controls a cooling tower system to ensure the recirculating water is sampled and tested for heterotrophic colony count, at least once a month.   The maximum penalty for an individual is 20 penalty units. 
  • Section 70(3) requires the person who owns, manages, or controls a cooling tower system to ensure the recirculating water is sampled and taken to a laboratory to test for Legionella, at least once every three (3) months.  The maximum penalty for an individual is 20 penalty units. 
  • Section 74 requires the person who owns, manages, or controls a cooling tower system to notify the department within 24 hours of a Legionella detection of 1,000 cfu/ml or above in a sample. The maximum penalty for an individual is 20 penalty units.
  • Section 77 creates an offence for the person who owns, manages, or controls a cooling tower system or (section 84) a water delivery system to tamper with a water sample that is taken and provided to a laboratory for testing. The maximum penalty for an individual is 20 penalty units.
  • Section 78 creates an offence for a person who owns, manages, or controls a cooling tower system or (section 85) a water delivery system to falsify a laboratory report. The maximum penalty for an individual is 20 penalty units.
  • Section 79 (1) requires the person who owns, manages, or controls a cooling tower system to keep written records regarding maintenance and corrective activities, and laboratory reports for 12 months. The maximum penalty for an individual is 20 penalty units.
  • Section 79 (2) requires the person who owns, manages, or controls a cooling tower system to produce laboratory reports for inspection upon the request of an authorised officer. The maximum penalty for an individual is 20 penalty units.
  • Section 82 requires the person who owns, manages, or controls a water delivery system to manage the risks of legionella in any water delivery system located on the premises. The maximum penalty for an individual is 20 penalty units.

Penalty units 

The value of a penalty unit for a financial year is fixed by the Treasurer under s. 5(3) of the Monetary Units Act 2004. Penalty units are updated annually.

The Treasurer  has fixed the values for 2020-2021 at $165.22

As a guide, for the 2020-2021 year:

  • 10 penalty units is more than $1,650
  • 20 penalty units is more than $3,300
  • 50 penalty units is more than $8,000
  • 60 penalty units is more than $9,900
  • 120 penalty units is more than $19,800
  • 300 penalty units is more than $49,500
  • 600 penalty units is more than $99,000

Reviewed 23 May 2021

Health.vic

Contact details

Our phone service is available Monday to Friday, from 9.00am to 1.00pm. Postal address: GPO Box 4057, Melbourne Vic 3001

Legionella team

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