Online version of the 2014-15 Department of Health Annual Report

3.6: Work Health and Safety

We are committed to providing workplaces that support and safeguard the health, wellbeing and safety of our people

Page last updated: 16 October 2015

The Department acknowledges its responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 to ensure health and safety at work, and to assist ill and injured workers. The Department maintains a strong commitment to the health, safety and wellbeing of all staff.

The Department’s work health and safety (WHS) policies and procedures aim to achieve best practice in health and safety management in order to reduce the social and financial cost of occupational injury and illness, and improve business performance. A WHS Management Systems Manual has been produced to help ensure compliance with the WHS Act and to support managers, supervisors and individuals in discharging their responsibilities.

A particular strategic focus on primary intervention or injury prevention has been adopted during 2014-15. This has been complemented by the Department’s Rehabilitation Management System, which provides for early response in minimising the incidence and severity of injury and disease (illness) at work, and rehabilitation based on the principle of work engagement during recovery.

An Initial Level Comcare WHS management system audit of the Department was conducted in May 2015. The audit examined the existence of systems, their effectiveness and their degree of integration with the Department’s normal business. The Department’s performance at this level was around the APS average.

Initiatives taken during the year to ensure health, safety and welfare of workers who carry out work for the Department

Several initiatives have been implemented during the year to improve the Department’s WHS performance:

  • collaboration with the Department of Defence on selection and management of rehabilitation providers
  • proactive engagement with treating doctors to emphasise work capability rather than incapacity
  • co-operative injury prevention and management with IP Australia
  • participation in Australian Public Service (APS) best practice trials addressing excellence in rehabilitation case management, early intervention for high prevalence conditions and development of a model for workers’ compensation premium devolution.

To support the Department’s strategies for promoting wellbeing, a number of health and lifestyle initiatives are available to staff, including:

  • assistance to quit smoking
  • flu vaccinations
  • eyesight testing
  • access to the Employee Assistance Programme.

Health and safety outcomes (including the impact on injury rates of workers) achieved as a result of initiatives

The Department has improved health outcomes in 2014-15 with a new Rehabilitation Management System, for which an Australia Day Award was presented to the Work Health and Safety team. Strong rehabilitation performance has contributed to the Department’s 2015-16 workers’ compensation premium rate reduction of 41 per cent compared with the 2014-15 rate.

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

During 2014-15, there were five serious injuries, illnesses or dangerous incidents reported to Comcare with respect to the Department’s statutory obligation under section 35 of the WHS Act. These were all body stressing injuries and are being managed in accordance with rehabilitation procedures.

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 notices were issued to the Department in 2014-15 and no investigations were initiated.
  • Two Rehabilitation Management Systems Audits were undertaken, with performance recorded within the APS average.
  • Comcare conducted a Work Health and Safety Management Systems audit, and noted performance around the APS average.

Such other matters as required by guidelines approved on behalf of the Parliament by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

No matters to report for 2014-15.