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Work health and safety

Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018–2022

The agency’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018–2022 (previously the Wellbeing System 2018–2022) takes a holistic approach to WHS and employee wellbeing. It seeks to improve our employees’ wellbeing by building on existing practices, with targeted initiatives in 3 important, interrelated 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 enabling us to attract and retain good employees.

The Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018–2022 includes the following initiatives and activities to promote health and wellbeing in the agency:

  • access to corporate gym membership rates
  • voluntary influenza vaccinations
  • promotion and education of healthy eating and good nutrition
  • health programs to promote exercise and wellbeing activities, and
  • an annual wellbeing reimbursement for activities or therapies to help employees lead a healthy lifestyle.

Implementation of the strategy’s actions will continue to 2022 with annual reviews of the initiatives.

Rehabilitation Management System

We are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees. This includes helping employees remain at work or return to work following an injury or illness. The Rehabilitation Management System (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 (Cth). In 2019–20 the agency supported a number of employees under the RMS, through graduated return to work programs, early intervention and access to ergonomic equipment.

Work Health and Safety Officer

The agency’s designated WHS Officer works closely with the Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and the Emergency Control Organisation (a structured group consisting of Fire Wardens and First Aid Officers) to ensure and promote a safe working environment. The WHS carries out regular workplace inspections to identify and address any WHS issues. This is in addition to regular reporting of incidents and near misses. At its quarterly meetings the Emergency Control Organisation reviews WHS incidents.

Health and Safety Representatives

The agency has 2 HSRs to 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 Business Services team 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 HSRs to undertake mental health first aid training. Safe Work Australia has also established a Mental Health Working Group to develop initiatives and drive policy development to ensure the agency continues to be a mentally healthy workplace.

Employee Assistance Program

We provide all employees and their immediate families with access to free professional advice through our 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, 7 days a week. Online support is available through a web platform or an app designed for both Android and iOS devices.

Workstation assessments

As part of our commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace, employees have ergonomic assessments of their workstations on commencement, on returning from long-term leave or following an injury. We provide sit-to-stand workstations and encourage regular breaks 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 include a number of leave types, specifically 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 in the agency to 12.83 days per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee, which is up from 12.34 days per FTE in the 2018–19 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.

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 from the conduct of a business or undertaking that result in the death, serious injury or serious illness of a person or involve a dangerous incident. Two incidents were required to be notified in the 2019–20 period.

One workers’ compensation claim was lodged with Comcare in the 2019–20 reporting period.