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Initiatives and outcomes
The Department is committed to promoting continuous work health and safety (WHS) improvements and a positive workplace safety culture. Significant work has been undertaken with stakeholders in support of WHS strategies and systems.
Key WHS initiatives during 2019–20 included:
- standing up an Air Quality Monitoring Advisory Group (the Group) in response to the 2019–20 bushfires. The Group provided advice and made recommendations on the management of bushfire smoke impacts on internal and external air quality, and forecast projections across impacted departmental work locations
- supporting the Department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic through provision of advice on health and safety matters, including social distancing, working from home, ergonomic equipment, manager responsibilities to ensure health and safety of their teams, hygiene in the workplace and safely returning to working from the workplace
- expanding the work health and safety webpage on our MyHR website with fact sheets, posters, checklists and other COVID-19 artefacts
- actively engaging and consulting with our Health and Safety Representatives on the Department’s response to the national bushfire emergency, air quality and COVID-19 pandemic risk mitigation strategies
- finalising consultation and establishing a new Departmental Health and Safety Committee model
- commencing a Psychosocial Risk Management Working Group to deliver WHS system improvements for supporting staff who may be exposed to psychosocial hazards
- progressing work to achieve accreditation under a globally accepted standard for systems of safety—AS/NZ ISO 4804:2001—Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems.
Mechanisms of injury
The Department identifies actions, events and situations that can or do cause injury and disease. Mechanism-of-injury descriptors are based on a national classification system. Table 16 shows injuries by mechanism for accepted workers compensation claims.
Table 16 –Three-year summary of mechanism of injury for accepted claims
Falls, trips and slips
Being hit by moving objects
Sound and pressure
Heat, electricity and other environmental
Chemicals and other substances
Vehicle accidents and other
Other or unspecified
Table 17 shows the incidents notified to Comcare under sections 35, 36 and 37 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Table 17 – Incidents notified to Comcare
Notifiable incident classification
Incidents are notified to Comcare with the information available at the time of reporting. After further investigation, some incidents are subsequently reclassified by Comcare as being not notifiable under the legislation. This may be due to the nature of the incident, or the incident not being related to the business or undertaking of the Department.
The Department liaises with Comcare on all regulatory and cooperative compliance matters. Both organisations meet monthly to work collaboratively on work health and safety matters of mutual interest. Between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, Comcare issued 64 notices under section 155 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 on matters related to the Department’s responsibilities. During the same period Comcare commenced a total of 53 new monitoring compliance inspections and investigations, with the scope of each broad and varied.
Between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, Comcare did not issue the Department with any Improvement Notices under section 191 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulations.
Unscheduled absence management
Analysis of unscheduled absence shows that 34 per cent of employees took five days or less personal leave over the last 12 months and 56 per cent of employees took 10 days or less personal leave.
The Department continues to work with staff and managers to address high levels of unscheduled absences, to balance avoidable absences and undesirable presenteeism. We support the health and wellbeing of employees, including actively managing instances where individuals struggle with attendance. Employees with serious illnesses or injury receive support from their local managers and early intervention and, where necessary, case management to help them recover and return to work sustainably.