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.
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.
|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%|
|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|
- Other than requests for information under Section 155
- Includes notifiable incidents, investigations and notices in the Indian Ocean Territories
- Figures are as advised by Comcare
- Unscheduled absence includes sick leave, carer's leave, unauthorised absences and compassionate/bereavement leave. Workers' compensation leave is not included
|WHS KPIs in performance plans:
|Training courses, including online available and training complete in 2017–18:
|Staff completing first aid training:
|Staff completing fire warden training:
|Status of the enterprise risk register in reflecting the department's major risks:
|Number of newsletters containing WHS information/advice:
|Number of workstation assessments conducted:
|Number of health assessments conducted:
|WHS learning and development for staff
|Electrical equipment testing and tagging
|Resources were provided to deliver WHS outcomes including audits, inspections and internal initiatives|