Appendix D: Report under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Over the last 12 months the department has worked to improve our work health and safety management systems across the range of environments in which we operate. We comply with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 4801 (occupational health and safety management systems) and have completed an audit and gap analysis of our work health and safety framework to identify opportunities to improve our systems.

The department's corporate plan outlines strategic areas, including:

  • attention to good governance
  • incorporating a performance framework that will embed a culture of reflective and evaluative thinking
  • improving capability by having a view of the right outcome and fostering a high-performing workforce

These focus areas align with our work health and safety (WHS) approach.

Work Health and Safety Policy

The department's WHS Policy outlines our commitment to health and safety in the workplace. It is displayed at the entrance or security desk of each office the department occupies. It is also provided to:

  • all new ongoing and non-ongoing employees as part of the recruitment process
  • recruitment agencies that provide labour hire to the department
  • anyone requiring a security pass through the pre-commencement ‘WHS—an overview of safety in the workplace’ eLearning module
  • all employees every two years as part of the WHS refresher eLearning module
  • any other interested person or organisation

Work Health and Safety Management System (WHSMS)


  • underpins the way the department manages WHS hazards and risks
  • ensures compliance with WHS legislation
  • clarifies duties and responsibility for officers and workers

The department conducted an internal verification audit of the WHSMS in 2017–18 to check conformance with AS/NZ4801 (Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems). An action plan was implemented to redress any issues. This included revising some areas of the framework and creating supporting documents including a:

  • framework guide
  • consultation protocol
  • document and records management procedure
  • internal audit procedure
  • health monitoring procedure
  • executive management review procedure
  • WHSMS legislative requirements procedure


The department recognises the importance of cooperative relationships and consults directly with workers on WHS related issues. This is achieved through the WHS Committee and health and safety representatives.

Seven key documents were distributed for consultation during the year including:

  • consultation process for WHS policies and procedures
  • WHS declaration
  • psychological health and wellbeing framework
  • psychological safety guideline
  • HSR document
  • work health and safety monitoring procedure
  • work health and safety management system


The People and Performance Branch regularly reviews progress against the audit findings and provides monthly updates to the General Manager, People and Performance. Quarterly reports are provided to the WHS Committee and Finance, Reporting and Programmes Committee, which detail the activities undertaken in the previous quarter, incidents reported, rehabilitation actions and updates to the risk register. Reports are also provided to the Audit Committee.

This annual report covers a review of annual activities including lag and lead indicators and key achievements relating to health and safety. It also provides statistics on work related incidents, injuries and claims, which demonstrate the department's compliance with the WHS Act.

Health support

The health of our workers is paramount and a comprehensive program is in place covering pre-employment, pre and post-deployment, vaccinations, the Employee Assistance Program, and specialist assessments.

Health support for employees during the period included a program of pre-employment medicals for all new engagements, pre-deployment medicals, psychological screenings and dental checks for all workers being posted overseas or to Christmas Island, Norfolk Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The program also covers medicals for workers returning from a posting.

Overseas travel health assessments are conducted for workers travelling internationally. Vaccinations include hepatitis for all first aiders in line with the department's first aid policy, and influenza vaccinations for all workers.

The Employee Assistance Program also operates for all workers in accordance with the department's Enterprise Agreement. Health assessments, fitness for duty, audiometric testing, and health monitoring for specific hazardous substances are all in place for workers performing relevant job functions.

Rehabilitation and compensation

In 2017–18 seven claims were lodged—primarily for physical injuries—and five of these were accepted. This compares with 12 accepted claims in 2014–15.

Of the five accepted claims, one was for lost time injury. Claimants were provided with medical and rehabilitation services.

The APS department's claim frequency rate is under the average for all agencies. Our insurance premium rate reflects this, and sits below the overall scheme average premium rate.


The department conducted a chair replacement program during the year to help prevent workplace injuries and diseases associated with prolonged sitting and inappropriate desk layouts.

It also implemented an extensive program to raise the profile of workplace health and safety during National WHS Month. The program included:

  • beyond incident reporting: redressing myths about work health and safety to reshape views on responsibilities. This initiative focused on how supervisors and employees can be proactive with safety, and reinforced the three principles of “see it, sort it, report it”.
    A series of scenario based articles was also published as on our intranet and displayed on noticeboards
  • a video “Safety—what are you accountable for?” helped set the scene for workplace safety accountability
  • a focus on mental health included:
  • consulting on the department's draft psychological health and wellbeing framework
  • supporting World Mental Health Day
  • a Safe Work Australia panel discussion broadcast on building a bully free workplace
  • directing employees to videos by Libby Trickett, Queensland's Mental Health Ambassador, to help staff recognise the signs of poor mental health and to ask for help
  • promoting respect, psychological health and wellbeing through a series of consultations on our draft Workplace Respect and Courtesy Guidelines, the new Deployment Health and Safety Guidelines, and the revised Psychological Safety Guidelines
  • a seminar on “Making the Connection: Building Rewarding Relationships”, which aimed to develop awareness and understanding of respectful communication in the workplace
  • a guest physiotherapist presentation on “Office Wise” to highlight ergonomics in the workplace

Territories case study—workplace health and safety focus in action in 2017–18

Territories Division engaged a consultant in 2017 to review WHS matters in Norfolk Island, the Jervis Bay Territory, and the Indian Ocean Territories.

These areas have been implementing action items arising from the reports, and a steering committee—with representatives from each of the territories branches and from Corporate Services Division—has been established to oversee implementation. The committee's focus is to ensure a consistent approach to implementing WHS and to provide strategic oversight and governance.

Workplace health and safety statistics

Table D.1 provides a summary of health and safety outcomes, notifiable incidents, investigations and notices in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act.

Table D.1 Workplace health and safety statistics in 2017–18
Lag indicators
Incidents notified to Comcare 4
Notices received from Comcare Nila
Inspector reports issued by Comcare 2
PINs issued by HSRs Nil
Incidents registered on the reporting systemb 98
Corrective actions identified in the reporting system completed 100%
Accepted claimsc 6
Claims were for lost timec 1
Total weeks lost from new claims through incapacityc 29.2
Average time off work per injury (weeks)c 4.87
Average cost per accepted compensation claimc $14,810
Employees using the Employee Assistance Program (%) 8.7%
Days of unscheduled absence per full-time equivalent employeed 13.3


  1. Other than requests for information under Section 155
  2. Includes notifiable incidents, investigations and notices in the Indian Ocean Territories
  3. Figures are as advised by Comcare
  4. Unscheduled absence includes sick leave, carer's leave, unauthorised absences and compassionate/bereavement leave. Workers' compensation leave is not included
Lead indicators
WHS KPIs in performance plans:
  • All plans contain “To comply with the Work Health and Safety Act (2011) during the course of my employment”
Training courses, including online available and training complete in 2017–18:
  • 786—WHS eLearning modules completed
Staff completing first aid training:
  • 35—all first aiders have certificates, annual CPR training is compulsory
Staff completing fire warden training:
  • 79 fire wardens trained
Status of the enterprise risk register in reflecting the department's major risks:
  • Up-to-date and signed off by the Executive
Number of newsletters containing WHS information/advice:
  • Four department Secretary's Updates issued with WHS information
Number of workstation assessments conducted:
  • 188 workstation assessments
  • 42 equipment requests (provided)
Number of health assessments conducted:
  • 266 assessments, entailing a lifestyle questionnaire, full lipid profile (total cholesterol LDL, HDL triglycerides), HbA1c diabetes screening test, blood pressure measurement and body composition measurement (height, weight, BMI, waist measurement, hip-to-waist ratio). Staff were also offered a selection of three of the modules below:
    • vision screening
    • posture and flexibility assessment
    • nutrition consultation
    • cardiovascular and muscle fitness
    • depression, stress and anxiety
    • 419 influenza vaccinations
WHS learning and development for staff
  • An eLearning module is provided for new starters and refresher training conducted for employees every two years:
    • WHS: An overview of safety in the workplace (mandatory)—703 completed
    • WHS: Applying WHS in the workplace—83 completed
    • Presentation—workplace set up and how to use sit down and stand desks (in one branch office)
Electrical equipment testing and tagging
  • A ‘test and tag’ system for electrical equipment is in place
Resources were provided to deliver WHS outcomes including audits, inspections and internal initiatives

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Last Updated: 12 November, 2018