This section is presented in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).
Work health and safety-Executive commitment
Throughout 2019–20, our Board and Executive continued their ongoing commitment to Work Health and Safety (WHS), with the health and wellbeing of our people being critical to Airservices continued success. Our priorities have centred on improving assurance over our suite of WHS controls and minimising our risk exposure in line with the Board’s Risk Appetite Statement. Supporting the mental health and protecting the physical health of our people during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a key focus.
Work health and safety initiatives
Ongoing support during the COVID-19 pandemic
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our primary focus has continued to be the safety of our people and the travelling public. In actively monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to respond in line with the latest advice from the Department of Health and have sought additional guidance from our medical services provider as needed. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an extensive impact on our organisation and wider society, supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our people is a key focus in the ongoing development of our COVID-19 pandemic Response Plan, Business Continuity Plans and the COVIDSafe Roadmap. These plans and roadmap are helping us design and transition to a ‘new normal’ suite of working arrangements.
In response to the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we swiftly implemented multiple initiatives to maintain the overall wellbeing of our people, be it working from home or transitioning to resilient rosters. The success of these initiatives was possible with the joint efforts of our people and WHS experts, along with relevant external contributions from our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) partners. Some initiatives included:
instigating the use of various mediums to ensure all our people remained connected to our organisation and their leaders, such as Facebook and regular check-ins
wellbeing phone applications (Wellteq)
weekly COVID Wellbeing surveys, to ensure any concerns or trends could be swiftly addressed
EAP support mechanisms and presentations for our people and leaders
targeted programmes to motivate our people to stay active and engaged while working from home or between their rostered shifts.
Support during Australian bushfires
Supporting our people throughout the 2019–20 bushfires was a key focus throughout the bushfire season. We implemented all key recommendations from Australian health authorities to minimise the impacts of exposure to the resulting poor air quality, including customising air conditioning systems where appropriate and developing contingency measures for several 24-hour roles. We provided additional support to our people who may have been directly or indirectly impacted with the provision of:
additional leave and flexible working arrangements
access to additional EAP sessions
targeted guidance for leaders
a dedicated information hub detailing preparedness information
external links to up-to-date information on nearby fires
advice from Comcare.
We have taken significant steps to improve the awareness of, support for, and assurance over, emergency planning activities across the organisation. There has been a substantial increase in the emergency planning and management support provisions delivered to our Emergency Planning Organisations (EPOs), Emergency Planning Committees (EPCs) and their Chairs. The outputs have improved the effectiveness and timeliness of annual emergency planning committee meetings, evacuation drills and exercises, as well as delivered significant improvements to our 104 Emergency Management Plans. A refreshed Fire Evacuation Training Program (FEP) was released during 2019–20 and will continue to be enhanced in 2020–21.
Significant effort continues to be invested in improving hazard identification and reporting across the organisation, particularly within our operational areas. This focus has resulted in a substantial improvement in the quality of hazard reporting, while the significant gains in hazard reduction of 2018–19 have been maintained. In 2019–20, several supporting initiatives were implemented. An example is the implementation of the AirHook system for operational training; a portable fall protection system that has been proven across multiple industries to reduce the risk of injury to people working at heights. Demonstrating a commitment by all our people to everyone’s safety. There has been an increased focus on reporting and management of workplace hazards and incidents. This has led to significantly reducing our workplace injury occurrences, especially within our operational areas.
Drawing on the outcomes from an external review, a new programme to improve our electrical safety performance and assurance commenced this year. This programme focused on embedding continuous improvement by increasing our people’s engagement and reinforcing a safety culture. Progress to date has included enhancements to Safe Work Method Statements and electrical safety procedures training, as well as the launch of a new key hazard and control booklet within our vocational trade teams.
Employee health and wellbeing
Initiatives to support our people’s health and wellbeing throughout 2019–20 included specific events during Safe Work Month and RUOK Day. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and decreased social contact in the workplace, we launched a digital health app, designed to support the mental and physical health of our people through engagement, education, and team-based challenges.
Work health and safety reporting
Our Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) performance is the strongest it has been in the last five years. Continuing a strong downward trend year-on-year, we achieved a 42.5 per cent improvement in this reporting period. Importantly, this was achieved while our aviation rescue and fire fighting team had a significant involvement in coordinated operations to provide frontline support in the Australian Bushfires. Our continued LTIFR improvement reflects our priority on people’s wellbeing where we have early intervention programs, and targeted hazard and risk reduction activities.
Consultation and health and safety committees
Local WHS committee meetings were held in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, to consult on and work to resolve local WHS issues at those sites.
Workers compensation premium
The Comcare premium for 2019–20 was 0.76 per cent of payroll as compared to 0.81 in 2018–19, delivering a 6.2 per cent reduction, while continuing to remain lower than the Commonwealth’s scheme average. We attribute this improvement to a reduction in claims submitted and overall costs, including one significant mental disease claim no longer affecting the premium which represented 58 per cent of costs per year over the previous four years. There have been improvements in two other areas, being:
a reduction in the average number of weeks for return to work activities to commence
the average time taken to lodge a Comcare claim from the date of receipt has decreased.
Improvement notices and Comcare investigations
During 2019–20, we received no improvement notices and were not the subject of any investigations.
Work Health and Safety Occurrences and Hazards 2015–16 to 2019–20
Reported work‑related WHS occurrences
Reported work‑related WHS hazards
Serious Injury or Illness requiring Comcare notification