Annual Report 2008-2009

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Appendix 4

Occupational health and safety

Information in this appendix is provided in accordance with Section 74 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (the OHS Act).

Health and safety management arrangements

The department attaches a high priority to the wellbeing of its employees and is committed to facilitating an organisational culture that actively seeks to improve work practices and to foster attitudes which sustain healthy and safe work environments. The department’s Health & Safety Management Arrangements (HSMA) provide the structural framework within which OHS is managed in the department and include the responsibilities of management, supervisors, employees and their representatives.

OHS Committees

The department’s Workplace Relations Committee (WRC) OHS Sub-Committee meets every three months. It represents the collective interests of the employer, employees, contractors, clients and visitors. All sub-Committee business decisions are referred to the Workplace Relations Committee for endorsement and/or acknowledgement. OHS forums also operate in state and territory offices and at overseas posts. They help to facilitate cooperation on OHS matters between management and employees and assist in the dissemination of health and safety information.

Health and safety representatives

In Canberra, there are 32 designated work groups with, at present, 31 elected or nominated health and safety representatives. Each overseas post and state and territory office is also a designated work group.

Health and safety of employees and contractors

The OHS/rehabilitation case manager is located in the Remuneration and Post Management Branch. A key purpose of the position is to provide policy and procedural advice to senior management to ensure that the department’s OHS management systems comply with its obligations under the Act. The case manager liaises with the department’s Medical Unit, the Staff Counselling Office, personnel and property managers and IT staff to promote a safe and healthy workplace. The case manager maintains regular contact with staff responsible for occupational health and safety at overseas posts. The potential Comcare client group includes all APS employees located in Australia and overseas and thirty-nine percent of locally engaged staff at overseas posts. The case manager is also available to assist staff not covered by Comcare, including locally engaged staff covered under overseas insurance arrangements and contract employees.

Measures taken during the year to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of employees and contractors

The Occupational Health and Safety Coordinator provided briefings to new employees about occupational health and safety arrangements. Before commencing overseas postings, senior staff responsible for post administration were briefed on their whole-of-government occupational health and safety responsibilities.

The OHS/rehabilitation case manager arranged for external ergonomic consultants to undertake 141 workstation assessments for employees experiencing discomfort at their work place. The department continued to provide first aid training and maintain a register of first aid trained staff on the department’s intranet. This includes 121 staff in Canberra and 170 staff in state and territory offices and overseas posts. Health and safety awareness messages (throughout Australia and overseas) were conveyed through the department’s SATIN Low network. Other measures included employer-subsidised eyesight testing for screen-based work and training for fire wardens and Health and Safety representatives. The department offered influenza vaccinations to employees covered by the 2006–2009 Collective Agreement.

Seventy-three OHS incidents were reported to the OHS/rehabilitation case manager in accordance with the department’s incident notification and reporting procedures. Relevant remedial action was undertaken to eliminate or minimise recurrences.

Reporting requirements under the Act

One incident was reported to Comcare under section 68 of the Act.

No directions were given to the department under section 45 of the Act.

No notices were issued under section 29, section 46 or section 47 of the Act.

There were no investigations conducted.

Table 23. Occupational health and safety statistics

  2006–07 2007–08 2008–09
Total departmental staff covered by Comcare (includes employees located in Australia, Australia-based employees overseas and, where applicable, locally engaged staff) 2 491 2 577 2 704
Number of claims accepted by Comcare:

- falls, trips and slips

- being hit by a moving object

- body stressing

- heat/chemical, biological or other substances

- mental stress

- other























Average cost of compensation claims to date* $17 057 $14 393 $2 312
Departmental premium for Comcare coverage (as a percentage of total departmental wages and salaries) as at 30 June 2009** 0.70 0.52 0.66

* Based on customer information data compiled by Comcare as at 30 June 2009; covers cost of sick leave taken and all hospital/medical/pharmaceutical costs. These figures are represented in the year the injury or illness occurred and can change from year to year as additional claims are lodged or costs incurred.
** The Comcare coverage premium for current and previous years is reviewed annually by Comcare based on the changes during the year in the number of claims and the average cost of all claims relating to injury or illness.

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