APRA has continued to strengthen its Work Health and Safety (WHS) policy with an increased focus on employee wellbeing, risk management and reporting. This has been crucial with the bushfire crisis and then the COVID-19 pandemic creating the need for a strong focus on employee health and wellbeing.
APRA has continued to respond in a risk-based manner, with WHS risk assessments being conducted to determine the appropriate approach to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees.
WHS Response to COVID-19
The WHS Risk Assessment identified key risks that had the potential to impact APRA’s key objective of ‘maintaining the health, safety and wellbeing of all employees and contractors whilst working remotely and in the return to office approach’. The key risks covered the spectrum of psychological and physical health as well as leadership and change management.
Controls to address COVID-19 key risks included:
- detailed monitoring of potentially impacted employees and establishing a framework to be able to respond effectively to an instance of COVID-19 in the workplace;
- all employees being kept fully informed through a regularly updated information page, FAQs and weekly communications from the Chair;
- the opportunity for employees to raise concerns about their remote working arrangements and ergonomic conditions, followed up by virtual ergonomic assessments where required;
- the adaption policies to enable greater flexibility to better support family/personal responsibilities and workload, and the creation of new/additional policies to enable an appropriate and ongoing response to COVID-19 in the workplace; and
- the delivery of a series of leadership sessions targeted at supporting leaders through the change in working arrangements.
To monitor employee engagement and wellbeing whilst working remotely, a fortnightly pulse survey of all APRA employees was established. The results of these surveys (contained in Chapter 3) helped shape APRA’s ongoing wellbeing initiatives and approach to the return to office.
APRA was able to continue to offer access to various initiatives for employees to support wellbeing, including the annual flu vaccination which was provided to employees this year through a one-off direct payment for them to attend their local GP or health clinic, and online workshops to assist employees with increased caring responsibilities.
In addition to this, there was a strong emphasis on supporting positive mental health with increased engagement through APRA’s partnership with external providers in delivering targeted workshops to strengthen resilience in challenging times. APRA continued to promote its Employee Assistance Program and Wellbeing Ambassador network.
All APRA’s people leaders were provided with additional tools and support for creating an environment that promotes wellbeing. During 2019/20, APRA continued to deliver mental health and wellbeing awareness training for all people managers. This training enabled those managers to better address wellbeing issues, and have the confidence to intervene and progress support mechanisms as needed.
The WHS Committee is an integral part of APRA’s internal governance system, and is the principal forum for oversight on all WHS matters. It is responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of WHS control measures.
The role of the Work Health and Safety Committee has increased and the output improved, with strengthened membership and updated terms of reference to reflect these changes.
APRA’s risk management strategies have successfully mitigated any risks or hazards that may have resulted in notifiable incidents, investigations relating to undertakings, or provisional improvement notices.
There were two new workers compensation claims accepted by Comcare in the 2019/20 financial year.