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Appendix B: Work health and safety

This Appendix outlines IPEA's work health and safety performance in accordance with Part 4 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).

IPEA aims to maintain a healthy and safe environment for its employees, workers and visitors. This includes working to eliminate all preventable work-related injuries and illnesses and supporting employees’ wellbeing.

Initiatives

In 2019–20, IPEA undertook the following activities to meet its obligations under the WHS Act:

  • consulting with employees on WHS matters, including the establishment of IPEA’s representative arrangements
  • providing training for IPEA’s health and safety representatives and first aid officers
  • providing access to online WHS training and information
  • providing workstation assessments and ergonomic equipment, including sit/stand workstations
  • providing access to an Employee Assistance Program including confidential counselling and other services
  • providing influenza vaccinations for employees
  • providing access to a range of fact sheets, resources, webinars, podcasts and meditation apps to support mental health during COVID-19
  • providing information on setting up home based workstations, desk friendly exercises, yoga at your desk and regular messages with tips for working remotely.

COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, IPEA developed a Pandemic Contingency Plan (the Plan), which outlined our response to the declaration of an influenza/coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing delivery of critical functions. The Plan was consistent with whole-of-government approaches outlined in the Emergency Response Plan for Communicable Disease Incidents of National Significance: National Arrangements Plan.

IPEA also reviewed its Business Continuity Plan, which would be invoked should the pandemic result in staff being stood down, and ensuring the delivery of critical functions.

On 23 March 2020, IPEA required staff to work from home in response to the Government’s social distancing measures. IPEA employees continued working remotely throughout the remainder of the financial year delivering critical and core functions. GovTeams was used for weekly stand-ups, branch and team meetings, and for engaging with stakeholders. IPEA Members’ meetings and the Audit and Risk Committee continued to meet using GovTeams.

To ensure the health and safety of staff working remotely, employees were able to take ergonomic chairs and other equipment home. Hand sanitiser and desk wipes were provided to each employee. Newsletters were published regularly providing information on hand hygiene, setting up workstations, taking regular breaks, stretching exercises strategies, along with information about the range of resources available to assist with any mental health issues. Employees continued to stay connected through a range of virtual social and work related activities.

Throughout the pandemic IPEA has continued to demonstrate that it is an agile agency, learning new ways of delivering services and outcomes, using technology for collaboration to continue delivery of critical and core functions.

IPEA’s Transition to the Workplace Plan outlines the gradual return of staff to the usual workplace in line with broader government policy, social distancing guidelines and the National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles.

Comcare premium

IPEA’s 2019–20 Comcare premium was 0.51 per cent of its payroll for its employees.

Notifiable incidents

Between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, one notifiable incident occurred at IPEA that required reporting to Comcare in accordance with section 38 of the WHS Act.

Investigations and notices

No investigations were conducted and no notices were given in accordance with the WHS Act between 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.

Disability reporting mechanisms

Since 1994, non-corporate Commonwealth entities have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service reports and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au. From 2010–11, entities have no longer been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high-level two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these reports was published in 2014, and can be found at www.dss.gov.au.