Annual Report 2006-2007
 

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Appendix 3

Occupational health and safety

Information in this appendix is provided in accordance with Section 74 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (the OH&S Act).

The department’s health and safety management arrangements

The department attaches a high priority to the wellbeing of its employees and is committed to improving work practices and fostering attitudes that sustain healthy and safe work environments.

The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Employer/Employee Agreement defines the structural framework for managing OHS. The Agreement came into effect in 2003 and notionally expires in December 2007. We commenced drafting new Health and Safety Management Arrangements, as required by the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Amendment Act 2006. The new Arrangements will replace the Agreement.

OHS committees

The department’s Workplace Relations Committee OHS sub-committee meets every three months and represents the collective interests of the employer, employees, contractors, clients and visitors. All sub-committee business decisions are referred to the Committee for endorsement and/or acknowledgement. OHS forums also operate in our state and territory offices and overseas posts to facilitate cooperation on OHS matters between management and employees and to help disseminate health and safety information.

Health and safety representatives

In Canberra, there are 29 designated work groups with, at present, 27 elected or nominated health and safety representatives. Each overseas post and state and territory office is also a designated work group.

Health and safety of employees and contractors

The OHS/rehabilitation case manager is located in the Staffing branch. The case manager provides policy and procedural advice to senior management to ensure our OHS management systems comply with our obligations under the OH&S Act. The case manager liaises with the Medical Unit, the Staff Counsellors Office, personnel and property managers and IT staff to promote a safe and healthy workplace. The case manager maintains regular contact with staff responsible for OHS at overseas posts. The potential Comcare client group includes all APS employees located in Australia and overseas and 40 per cent of locally engaged staff at overseas posts. The case manager is also available to assist staff not covered by Comcare, which includes locally engaged staff covered under overseas insurance agreements and contract employees.

Measures taken during the year to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of employees and contractors

The Occupational Health and Safety Coordinator briefed recently recruited employees about occupational health and safety arrangements. Before taking up new assignments overseas, senior staff responsible for post administration are routinely briefed on their whole of government occupational health and safety responsibilities.

The OHS/rehabilitation case manager arranged for external ergonomic consultants to assess 47 workstations for employees experiencing discomfort at their workplace. The department paid for influenza vaccinations to employees covered under the Collective Agreement 2006–2009 and staff covered under the department’s Australian Workplace Agreements. First aid training continues to be provided and a register of staff trained in first aid is available on the department’s intranet, listing 71 staff in Canberra and 95 staff in state and territory offices and overseas posts. We used the department’s intranet to communicate health and safety awareness to staff throughout Australia and overseas. The department provided employer-subsidised eyesight testing for screen-based work and training for fire warden and health and safety representatives. Sixty-one OHS incidents were reported to the OHS/rehabilitation case manager in accordance with section 69 of the OH&S Act. There were two incidents involving serious personal injury. We undertook remedial action to eliminate or minimise recurrences where possible.

Reporting required under the OH&S Act

Two incidents or potentially dangerous occurrences were notified to Comcare under section 68.

No investigations were conducted and no notices were issued under section 29, 46 or 47 during the year.

TABLE 26. OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY STATISTICS
 
2004–05
2005–06
2006–07
Total staff covered by Comcare (includes employees located in Australia, Australia-based employees overseas and, where applicable, locally engaged staff overseas)
2 400
2 454
2 506
Number of claims accepted by Comcare*:
— falls, trips and slips
— being hit by a moving object
— body stressing
— heat/chemical, biological or other substances
— mental stress
— other total

3
4
5
3
3
4
22

6
2
4
1
1
6
20

7
1
4
0
0
2
14
Average cost of compensation claims to date*
    $21 554
    $30 780
    $16 260
Premium for Comcare coverage (as a percentage of total departmental wages and salaries) as at 30 June 2007**
0.60
0.51
0.61

* Based on customer data compiled by Comcare as at 30 June 2007; covers the cost of sick leave taken and all hospital/medical/pharmaceutical costs. These figures are represented in the year an injury or illness occurred and can change from year to year as additional claims are lodged or costs incurred.

** The Comcare coverage premium for current and previous years is reviewed annually by Comcare based on changes during the year in the number of claims and the average cost of all claims relating to injury or illness.

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