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Work health and safety

As the national policy body for WHS, we recognise the importance of having a healthy and safe workplace. The following measures are in place to ensure employees are healthy, safe and supported at all times.

Wellbeing System 2018–2022

In November 2018, the CEO approved the agency's Wellbeing System 2018–2022. The wellbeing system takes a holistic approach to WHS and employee wellbeing, and seeks to improve our employees’ wellbeing by building on existing practices with targeted initiatives in three important, inter-related action areas:

  • WHS
  • health and wellbeing, and
  • workplace culture.

Investing in the health and wellbeing of our employees provides significant benefits to the agency, including improved employee engagement, motivation and productivity, reduced costs associated with unscheduled absences and improved culture to attract and retain good employees.

Implementation of the system’s activities will continue to 2022 with annual reviews of the initiatives.

Rehabilitation Management System

We are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace to all employees. This includes helping employees remain at work or return to work following an injury or illness. To help fulfil this commitment, we undertook a comprehensive review of our Rehabilitation Management System (RMS), and developed a new Rehabilitation Management Policy. The RMS and the supporting policy address the requirements of Comcare’s Guidelines for Rehabilitation Authorities 2012 and explain how the agency will meet its responsibilities for workers’ compensation claims and rehabilitation under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

Work Health and Safety Officer

The designated WHS Officer works closely with the HSRs and Emergency Control Organisation (a structured organisation consisting of Fire Wardens, and First Aid Officers) to ensure and promote a safe working environment. Regular workplace inspections are carried out to identify and address any WHS issues. This is in addition to regular reporting of incidents and near misses. The ECF reviews WHS incidents at its quarterly meetings.

Health and Safety Representatives

The agency has two HSRs who represent the health and safety interests of our employees. HSRs along with the WHS Officer carry out biannual workplace inspections of our premises to identify any health and safety concerns. HSRs work closely with the WHS Officer and the Corporate Services section to identify and resolve issues as quickly as possible.

Mental health at work

We are committed to improving our employees’ health and wellbeing. We recognise the benefits of good mental health and wellbeing and we actively promote positive mental health practices. To build our mental health confidence, we now require our Harassment Contact Officers, First Aid Officers and Health and Safety Representatives to undertake mental health first aid training.

Employee Assistance Program

We provide all employees and their immediate families with access to free professional advice through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP offers short-term telephone and face-to-face coaching and counselling. Telephone support service is available to staff 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Online support is also available through the use of a web platform or an app available for both Android and iOS devices.

Workstation assessments

As part of our commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace, employees are provided with ergonomic assessments of their workstations on commencement, return from long-term leave or following an injury. Sit-to-stand workstations are also provided and regular breaks are encouraged to minimise the risks associated with sedentary work. Workstation assessments are also undertaken for employees with permanent working from home arrangements and where required as part of a rehabilitation and return to work case.

Managing unscheduled absences

Unscheduled absences combine a number of forms of leave where the absence could not have been predicted. We continue to work with employees and management to understand and improve unscheduled absence rates. This financial year has seen an increase in the unscheduled absence rate within the agency to 12.34 days full-time equivalent (FTE), which is up from 11.53 days FTE in the 2017–18 financial year. The agency is focused on the wellbeing of its employees and actively encourages employees to access personal leave and carers leave when they or their family are unwell. During negotiations for the new enterprise agreement, the agency agreed to include access to personal leave for medical appointments and employees affected by family or domestic violence.

WHS and workers’ compensation claims

Under section 35 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth), the agency is required to notify the Commonwealth WHS regulator, Comcare, of any incidents arising out of the conduct of a business or undertaking that result in death, serious injury or serious illness of a person or involve a dangerous incident. No incidents were required to be notified in the 2018–19 period.

No new workers’ compensation claims were lodged with Comcare in the 2018–19 reporting period.