Online version of the 2012-13 Department of Health and Ageing Annual Report

3.6: Work Health and Safety

Page last updated: 29 October 2013

We are committed to ensuring a safe and healthy work environment for all our workers, contractors and visitors.

The Department continues its commitment to ensuring a safe and healthy work environment for all workers, including contractors and visitors, consistent with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (WHS Act) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988. This commitment is also reflected in the Department’s Enterprise Agreement 2011–2014.

The Department actively supports injured and ill employees in their return to work and provides appropriate reasonable adjustment to working environments to achieve this, including flexible working arrangements. The commitment to provide early intervention strategies to assist injured and ill employees is supported by workplace rehabilitation assistance and/or medical examinations to determine fitness for duty.

The Department has undertaken a number of activities to implement changes resulting from the introduction of the WHS Act on 1 January 2012. During 2012-13, this included:

  • revised national work health and safety (WHS) governance arrangements; and
  • development of the WHS management system framework and guidance manual.

This framework and manual sets out the responsibilities of all staff in maintaining effective health and safety practices via policies, guidelines and business processes. Guidance and business processes have been developed and implemented for improved risk assessment and management of travel in remote areas of Australia. Training for Health and Safety representatives (HSRs) and officers has been undertaken. An e-learning module continues to be available for all staff, including contractors and consultants, and an e-learning module for managers was also released in July 2012.

In 2013-14, further work will be undertaken to develop and embed the WHS management system and rehabilitation management system.

Initiatives Taken During the Year to Ensure Health, Safety and Welfare of Workers who Carry Out Work for the Department

The Department undertook a range of initiatives under its Health and Life Strategy to increase the health and wellbeing of staff, encourage work-life balance and reduce the rate of illness and injury.

In addition, the Department continued its focus on early intervention and active case management for all employees experiencing injury and illness. A Rehabilitation Management System will be introduced during 2013-14 and initiatives such as training, education and practical tools for managers and employees will continue to be provided.

The Improving Wellness and Motivation in the Workplace: Reducing Unplanned Leave initiative is focused on supporting the Department’s commitment to: the creation, promotion and ongoing maintenance of a safe and healthy working environment; encouraging productive working relationships; and promoting and encouraging behaviours in staff and managers to assist in the management and reduction of unscheduled absence levels within the Department. The initiative complements existing departmental strategies and action plans aimed at promoting a positive work environment, preventing illness and injury, optimising performance and managing workloads and work-life balance. The average number of unplanned leave days taken by staff reduced a further one day per FTE in 2012-13, with a reduction of approximately two days per FTE over the past two financial years.

The Department provided influenza vaccinations, at no cost, to all staff interested in receiving a vaccination, as part of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the Enterprise Agreement.

Health and Safety Outcomes (including the Impact on Injury Rates of Workers) Achieved as a Result of Initiatives

During 2012-13, the Department maintained its workers’ compensation claim rate with 35 accepted claims compared to 34 in 2011-12.

The Department’s introduction of a Rehabilitation Management System in 2013-14 will strengthen the active commitment to early intervention and rehabilitation. This commitment will assist with minimising the periods of time off work to support a sustainable return to work outcomes for injured and ill employees.

Statistics of any Notifiable Incidents of which the Department Became Aware of During the Year that Arose Out of the Conduct of Business or Undertakings by the Department

In 2012-13, the Department reported two serious personal injuries and two dangerous incidents to Comcare under the WHS Act. The Department reviewed and investigated all incident and hazard reports received and implemented necessary remedial action.

Any Investigations Conducted During the Year that Relate to Businesses or Undertakings Conducted by the Department, including Details of All Notices Given to the Department During the Year under Part 10 of the WHS Act

No directions, notices or enforceable undertakings under the WHS Act were served on the Department during the year.