Department Foreign Affairs & Trade  
Annual Report - Contents
 
DFAT Annual Report 1998-99






Appendix 4: Occupational Health and Safety

The department is committed to ensuring the health, welfare and safety of all staff in Australia and overseas. To help achieve this, it has a designated full-time OH&S officer and a departmental committee that meets every two months to discuss OH&S issues. The committee is chaired by a qualified medical practitioner and brings together management, staff and union representatives. Each State and Territory office and overseas post is a Designated Work Group with elected (or appointed) staff representatives. The department sponsors health promotion activities, and the OH&S officer maintains close contact with the Medical Unit, Diplomatic Security and Property Branch, building managers, the Technical Services Section, and unions, to monitor and promote a safer and healthier workplace. The department also maintains close liaison with overseas posts on OH&S issues.

The department has a full-time rehabilitation case manager to facilitate an early and safe return to work for officers following an illness or injury. During the year in review, 22 minor incidents were reported, of which three were near misses (but could have resulted in injuries). Of these incidents, 19 occurred in the RG Casey Building, one at a State office, one at an overseas post, and one outside the workplace. In addition, 28 Comcare claims were made as a result of more serious injuries or illness. The greatest number of these—seven claims—involved strains and sprains (excluding backs). The claims that resulted in the highest costs related to occupational overuse syndrome (five claims, representing a total of over $206 000). The case manager works in close cooperation with Comcare, the OH&S officer and rehabilitation specialists, particularly in providing an appropriate work environment for officers with special needs.

The potential Comcare client group includes all departmental officers located in Australia and overseas and about
50 per cent of locally engaged staff at overseas posts. The case manager is also available to assist staff not covered by Comcare: this includes locally engaged staff covered under local insurance arrangements and contract employees.

During the review period, the department’s premium for Comcare coverage fell to 0.38 per cent of total departmental wages and salary costs. This compares favourably with the average of 1 per cent across all the agencies covered by Comcare.

Table 84 Occupational Health and Safety: Statistics

 

1996–97

1997–98

1998–99

Total departmental staff covered by Comcare
(includes officers located in Australia, Australia-based officers overseas and, where applicable, locally engaged staff)

3 023

2 796

2 828

Officers medically cleared prior to overseas posting *

>150

220

200

Officers medically prepared prior to short-term missions

>200

>250

250

Number of accidents reported that resulted in claims,
of which:

Back injuries

Sprains and strains, excluding backs

Occupational overuse injuries
Other

48

6
18
9
15

30

8
9
1
12

28

5
7
5
11

Departmental premium for Comcare coverage (as a percentage of total departmental wages and salaries)

0.71

0.43

0.38

* Figure does not include officers’ dependants.


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