Work health and safety
The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) came into effect on 1 January 2012, replacing the previous Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991. The WHS Act requires Commonwealth agencies to provide and maintain a safe and healthy work environment for all workers, contractors and other persons at work. The new legislation emphasises the health and safety responsibilities of all people at work. The Treasury promotes prevention, early intervention and education through its health, safety and wellbeing systems, policies and programs. The Treasury actively encourages employees to contribute to a safer workplace by reporting potential hazards, incidents and accidents as soon as they occur, being sensible about their actions in the workplace and demonstrating the Treasury People Values at all times.
In preparation for the implementation of the WHS Act, the Treasury organised briefings to its portfolio agency heads through a national legal firm with expertise in the new legislation. A Work Health and Safety Awareness week was held in December 2011 to provide employees with information about the new legislation and actions they could take to meet their duties under the WHS Act. Tailored seminars were also provided to external contractors used by the Treasury and office holders such as Health and Safety Representatives.
To assist officers in exercising due diligence in accordance with the WHS Act, the Treasury undertook a consultative process with internal business groups to determine a comprehensive risk profile for Work Health and Safety hazards and their associated risks. Risk registers were developed and a system implemented to continuously review and update the registers which are confirmed by the Work Health and Safety Committee.
The Terms of Reference for the Work Health and Safety Committee were reviewed to allow for a strategic focus on WHS risks.
The Treasury continues to explore and implement strategies to help minimise the human and financial costs of injury and illness. Case management presents issues that are complex and varied and that need to be managed with regard to revised legislation and internal policies. In 2011-12 the Treasury offered flexible arrangements that benefited both the department and injured or ill employees by supporting them to manage their illness or injury appropriately to remain at work. Potential compensation claims and loss of productivity were reduced through the Treasury Early Intervention Policy which assisted employees to access treatment for illness and injury likely to impact them while at work.
As a signatory to Comcare’s Employer Statement of Commitment, the Treasury continued to observe the Occupational Health and Safety and Rehabilitation Performance Improvement Targets (2002-2012) and maintained a low workers’ compensation claim rate through the application of early intervention strategies aimed at minimising the of injury or illness on both the employee and the department. The Treasury’s 2010-11 Comcare premium rate was revised from 0.61 per cent to 0.59 per cent and was maintained at 0.59 per cent for 2011-12. The Treasury’s Comcare premium rate has consistently remained lower than the Commonwealth average of 1.20 per cent and 1.41 per cent respectively.
Under Section 74 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (OHS Act), the Treasury is required to provide a report on occupational health and safety activities and statistics on notifiable accidents, dangerous occurrences, investigations and notices under Section 68 occurring while the OHS Act was legally enforceable.
|Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991||Number|
|Deaths that required notice under section 68||0|
|Accidents that required notice under section 68||0|
|Dangerous Occurrences that required notification under section 68||3|
|Investigations conducted under Part 4||0|
|Tests on plant, substance, or thing in the course of investigations considered||0|
|Directions given to The Treasury under section 45 (that the workplace etc. not be disturbed)||0|
|Notices given to The Treasury under section 29 (provisional improvement notice)||0|
|Notices given to The Treasury under section 46 (prohibition notice)||0|
|Notices given to The Treasury under section 47 (improvement notice)||0|
With the introduction of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 on 1 January 2012, the Treasury is required to provide a report on work health and safety activities and statistics on notifiable incidents, investigations and notices under Part 10 occurring on or after 1 January 2012.
|Work Health and Safety Act 2011||Number|
|Deaths that required notice under section 38||0|
|Serious injury or illness that required notice under section 38||3|
|Dangerous incidents that required notification under section 38||2|
|Investigations conducted under Part 9||0|
|Notices given to The Treasury under section 191 (improvement notices)||0|
|Notices given to The Treasury under section 195 (prohibition notices)||0|
|Notices given to The Treasury under section 198 (non-disturbance)||0|
Ongoing risk management activities within the Treasury’s Health and Safety Management Arrangements included:
- Occupational Health and Safety presentations at induction demonstrating positive ergonomic workstation set-up and practices. Inductions also included information on first aid, emergency procedures, accident/incident reporting, the Treasury’s Health and Wellbeing Program, lunchtime health activities, lens reimbursements, the Employee Assistance Program and the roles of the Work Health and Safety Committee and Health and Safety Representatives.
- Meetings of the Work Health and Safety Committee occurred three times in 2011-12, assisting in monitoring and reviewing health and safety measures and facilitating cooperation and communication amongst employees.
- Health and Safety Representatives conducted workplace inspections three times during 2011-12.
- Timely reporting of work-related incidents ensures immediate action is taken to rectify hazards. During 2011-12, the Treasury received 18 work-related incident reports which included trips, slips, falls, and body stressing. Of the 18 incidents, one compensation claim was submitted. In 2011-12 there were five new cases managed under the Treasury’s Early Intervention Policy.
- Managers are encouraged to report absences which may be related to physical or psychological injury or illness to enable staff and managers to be supported. This includes assistance under the Treasury Early Intervention Policy.
- First aid officers are located throughout the department. Employees with underlying health conditions such as epilepsy, asthma and diabetes are encouraged to advise nearby first aid officers to ensure timely and appropriate assistance is provided.
- The Treasury offers individual workstation assessments and training on ergonomics, workstation adjustment and recommended workstation practices. A total of
46 employees were referred for external workstation assessments and approximately 70 employees received individual workstation setups conducted by trained Treasury employees during 2011-12. Workstation set-up training is offered as part of the Treasury’s Health and Wellbeing Program with manual handling training also provided to employees undertaking these duties.
- Employees requiring glasses for screen-based use can be reimbursed for a portion of the cost. In 2011-12, 34 employees received reimbursement.
- Free influenza vaccinations are offered annually with 422 employees receiving the vaccination in April 2012.
- In cooperation with the Department of Finance and Deregulation, a 10 metre smoking exclusion zone has been maintained around the Treasury building.