The Department

Occupational Health and Safety


An Occupational Health and Safety Agreement, as required by the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991, was formally agreed with unions in 1992, and is still in place. The OH& S committee meets every two months, bringing together management, staff and union representatives to discuss relevant issues. The Department currently has 108 designated work groups, including state and territory offices and overseas posts, and 106 health and safety representatives elected by members of their designated work groups.

A primary role of the OH& S program is to encourage officers to take responsibility for health issues within their control. This is achieved through a variety of health promotion activities and close cooperation with the Medical Unit, the Services and Property Branch, the Building Managers, Service Delivery Section and unions to monitor and promote a safer and healthier workplace. In addition, DFAT-administered overseas diplomatic posts have OH& S mechanisms in place to promote the safety of overseas staff. The OH& S officer briefs Heads of Mission, officers selected for overseas postings and new recruits on OH& S issues. Selection criteria for promotion to APS Level 2 through to Executive Level 1 require a knowledge and understanding of OH& S issues.

During the review period, health promotion activities included assessing staff health, surveying the adequacy of departmental compactus units, overseeing completion of the gymnasium in the RG Casey building, investigating and taking corrective action to prevent staff slipping on oil leaks in carparks, and presenting a seminar on back care. (See also sub-program 5.2.)

The Department has a full-time rehabilitation case manager, who facilitates an early and safe return to work for officers following an illness or injury. The case manager closely cooperates with Comcare, the OH& S officer and rehabilitation specialists, focusing on providing an appropriate work environment for officers with special needs.

The potential client group includes all departmental officers and about 50 per cent of locallyengaged staff at overseas posts. (Local insurance arrangements cover remaining locally-engaged staff.) The case manager also is available to assist staff not covered by workers’ compensation.

During the review period, the Department’s premium for Comcare coverage fell to 0.46 cents in the dollar of total departmental wages and salary costs. This compares very favourably with the average of 1 cent in the dollar of all agencies Comcare covers.


As part of AusAID’s commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees, the Workhealth Unit continued to concentrate its activities on compliance and injury prevention. The assistance of health and safety representatives was invaluable in achieving the Agency’s goals. Major activities included:

  • manually handling risk assessments
  • preparing risk assessments of plant and equipment
  • preparing risk assessments of hazardous substances
  • conducting annual staff health checks
  • increasing the range of useful OH& S material available to employees via AusAID’s Intranet.

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This page last modified: Tuesday, 16-Sep-2003 13:10:43 EST

Local Date: Tuesday, 27-Jan-2015 19:26:25 EST