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APPENDIX 4 Work Health and Safety

AFMA recognises its responsibility and obligations as outlined in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, and is committed to creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all of its employees, contractors, consultants and visitors. Health and wellbeing is considered to be of utmost importance and the need to integrate health and safety into all aspects of our work, whether in the office or in the field is paramount. In 2019-20, AFMA undertook a comprehensive review of our Health and Safety Management Arrangements in consultation with all staff.

The Work Health and Safety (WHS) Committee is a joint management and staff committee that is committed to creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all of its staff, contractors, consultants and visitors.

The WHS Committee:

  • assists with the development, implementation, review and update of policies and procedures in relation to WHS
  • reviews incident reporting
  • oversights the implementation of preventive measures
  • assists in the distribution and awareness of WHS information to staff.

The WHS Committee met four times during the 2019-20 financial year.

Health and Safety Initiatives

AFMA maintains a strong commitment to the health and wellbeing of all employees and visitors. During 2019-20, the agency undertook initiatives ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of workers and achieved good health and safety outcomes as a result.

AFMA introduced strategies to assist staff to improve their wellbeing, with an emphasis on prevention and early intervention. This included revised policies, offering training, awareness sessions that coincide with significant events, such as RUOK Day, Dry July, Step-tember, Movember and Go Home on Time Day. In addition, at AFMA’s annual Observer Conference held in December 2019, presentations and information sessions were held that focused on the importance of WHS management and the reporting of incidents and hazards.

As part of the agency’s health and wellbeing approach, health checks and influenza vaccinations were offered to all staff. AFMA continues to provide WHS guidance to new employees through the AFMA Induction Program and all new employees are provided with information on their WHS obligations, ergonomic workstation setup and access to Work, Health and Safety Information including policies, guidelines and factsheets. We have sit-stand workstations in the Canberra office and Lakes Entrance offices and access to sit-stand workstations in the Darwin and Thursday Island offices.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, all AFMA staff were required to work from home from 30 March 2020. In supporting the health and wellbeing of its workers to work remotely, support was provided to all individuals including access to information on undertaking home based workstation assessments, providing ergonomic equipment (if required) and keeping staff updated and informed via a dedicated COVID-19 intranet site. Further to this, the dedicated COVID-19 intranet site provided information, guidance and support on information technology, working remotely and leave arrangements. During the pandemic regular updates were provided by the AFMA Executive through a number of forums including all staff meetings and ‘Weekly Wrap’ updates. AFMA’s information technology capability made connection and engagement with staff readily accessible and highly effective.

In addition, the establishment of a Health and Wellbeing Hub as part of the AFMA COVID-19 intranet site including a range of resources to assist staff in supporting their mental health and wellbeing through the pandemic. The Health and Wellbeing Hub includes information on AFMA’s employee assistance program, flu vaccinations, online mental health training, meditation, mindfulness, exercise and mental health fact sheets from Comcare, Beyond Blue and R U OK. AFMA also established a social channel Campfire on the intranet to support staff during isolation.

Incidents and Hazards

AFMA is required under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to create and maintain a safe and healthy work environment for all workers and record WHS data relating to incidents and hazards. In 2019-20 AFMA recorded 10 incidents relating to accidents or near-misses (see Figure 2). This rate has decreased from 26 in 2018-19. Majority of the incidents recorded occurred in the first half of the 2019-20 financial year. One of the key factors contributing to the reduction of incidents at sea and office based incidents and hazards could be attributed to the pandemic that resulted in field based activities being suspended and all staff working remotely. Another key factor was the agency’s continued focus on prevention and early intervention program.

The agency monitors and assesses all incidents and hazards and reports to the AFMA Commission and the WHS Committee. Where identified, modifications and changes to work practices and training and awareness programs are implemented.

Figure 2: AFMA Work Health and Safety incidents reports comparison Total number of incidents 26 in 2018-19 10 in 2019-20; Body Stressing 5 in 2018-192 in 2019-20; Falls, trips & slips 13 in 2018-19 2 in 2019-20; Psychological 1 in 2018-19; Hazard 2 in 2018-19; Other 5 in 2018-19 6 in 2019-20
Notifiable Incidents in 2019-20

In accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, AFMA is required to report ‘notifiable incidents' to Comcare. A notifiable incident can include: death of a person; serious injury or illness, or a dangerous incident which arises out of AFMA conducting its business.

In 2019-20 there were no incidents that were required to be notified to Comcare that fell within the definition of a Dangerous Occurrence under the Work Health and Safety legislation.