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Annual Report - Appendix 8: Occupational Health and Safety
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Appendix 8 – Occupational Health and Safety

During 2005-06, the Department continued its commitment to providing a safe and healthy work environment for staff, contractors and visitors at or near its workplaces. This commitment is underpinned by the Department’s Certified Agreement 2004-2007, which articulates the organisation’s commitment to legislative compliance and the pursuit of better practice in injury prevention and management; the Department’s Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Policy and Agreement; and the identification of OH&S as a priority in the Department’s People Strategy 2004-2007.

In 2005-06, the Department continued towards achieving OH&S targets identified in the National Occupational Health and Safety Strategy 2002-2012 and actively promoted the Department’s Health and Life Strategy.

The Department’s approach to injury prevention and management is reflected in the organisation’s workers’ compensation premium reduction performance, as levied by Comcare. Over the last four years, the Department has reduced its workers’ compensation premium rate from 141 per cent of the Australian Government average in 2001-02 to 96 per cent of the average in 2006-07.

This performance, and the package of innovative reforms underpinning it, was recognised in July 2005 by the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) at its annual Safety Awards. The SRCC awarded the Department a Safety Award 2005 in the category of ‘Leadership in Injury Prevention and Management’.

The maturity of the Department’s OH&S systems was also acknowledged by Comcare in 2005 when it withdrew as a project partner in the Workplace Injury Prevention and Management Strategy 2002-2007 in order to focus on assisting other agencies in these respects. The Department, however, is continuing the work under this strategy.

At the request of the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), the Department’s approach to injury prevention was included as a case study in the APSC publication entitled Fostering an Attendance Culture: A Guide for APS Agencies.

The following provides details on matters specified for inclusion in an annual report under Section 74 of the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment Act) 1991.

The occupational health and safety policy of the department or authority during the financial year, including details of:
  • any agreement made with employees relating to occupational health and safety;
  • the establishment of committees to deal with occupational health and safety matters; and
  • the selection of health and safety representatives.

The Department has an Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Agreement (2002) with relevant unions which will be updated in late 2006 to reflect the proposed changes to the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment Act) 1991.

The Department’s current Certified Agreement 2004-2007 includes a strong focus on OH&S, with a range of commitments to maintaining healthy and safe workplaces and staff wellbeing.

In 2005-06, established OH&S Committees continued to meet on a quarterly basis in Central Office, in the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and in each State and Territory Office. Other committees with key roles in addressing safety included staff consultative forums in organisational units of the Department, the Institutional Bio Safety Committee in the TGA, the Laboratory Safety Committee in the TGA, and emergency planning committees.

Measures taken during the year to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of employees and contractors of the Department.
Measures taken by the Department in 2005-06 to ensure health, safety and welfare at work included:
  • continuing focus on the Department’s Workplace Injury Prevention and Management Strategy 2002-2007 and the Health and Life Strategy;
  • providing OH&S programs for first aid services, emergency evacuation systems, fire safety systems, eyesight testing and workstation setup assistance for staff;
  • employer-funded immunisation (including Hepatitis B and flu) for staff identified at risk or presenting a potential risk to clients; and
  • provided training, awareness seminars and OH&S guidance material on safety related topics.

Statistics of any accidents or dangerous occurrences during the year that arose out of the conduct of undertakings by the Department and that required the giving of notice under Section 68.
In 2005-06, there were three dangerous occurrences and four serious personal injury notifications to Comcare under Section 68 of the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991.

Investigations conducted during the year that relate to undertakings carried on by the employer, including details of all:
  • tests conducted on any plant, substance or thing in the course of such investigations;
  • directions given to the employer under Section 45 during the year; and
  • notices given to the employer under Sections 29, 46 and 47 during the year.

In 2005-06, examinations conducted for ongoing staff safety included testing for eyesight, electrical equipment, air quality, cooling tower functions and medicals for individuals.

No directions or notices under the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991 were served on the Department by Health and Safety Representatives or Comcare during the year.

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Produced by the Portfolio Strategies Division, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.
URL: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/annrpt/publishing.nsf/Content/appendix8-occupational-health-and-safety-2
If you would like to know more or give us your comments contact: annrep@health.gov.au