The Education Directorate holds the health, safety and wellbeing of its workforce and of its students at the core of its education and school improvement agenda. In the 2016-17 financial year, the Directorate continued its strong health and safety performance, and sought to further influence and enhance this performance.
Work commenced to address the safety risk of occupational violence in August 2016 with the formation of the Joint Australian Education Union (AEU)/Education Directorate Working Group. This group developed two key management tools – the Managing Occupational Violence Policy and an associated Plan. Publication of these documents is scheduled for 26 July 2017, with staff training to commence in July 2017. This work was complemented by staff consultation undertaken in November 2016 and May 2017 to better understand management issues for staff and an Independent Review undertaken in March 2017 to examine system wide management of this risk.
The Directorate has continued a number of initiatives to support its workers’ health, safety and wellbeing including reviewing and strengthening the content of the Education Safety Management System to:
- include specific risk management guidance material for ACT public high school and college science programs and ACT public primary schools;
- strengthen guidance on health and safety roles and responsibilities including clearer linkages to ACT public sector policy;
- review advisory material for occupational noise and electrical safety;
- review first aid procedures and medical support for students with medical care needs;
- providing work, health and safety (WHS) training for keys groups across the Directorate including business managers, building service officers, health and safety representatives, and first aid officers;
- provide an influenza vaccination program for staff; and
- provide a Hepatitis A/B vaccination program for workers in high-risk roles.
On 24 March 2017, WorkSafe ACT issued the Directorate with an Improvement Notice in response to reports relating to occupational violence incidents in three separate ACT schools and related to developing and implementing a safe system of work for the management of this risk. The Directorate undertook a range of actions and initiatives to address notice requirements and to achieve system wide change in response to staff consultation and review findings.
On 16 May 2017, WorkSafe ACT notified the Directorate that this notice was no longer in effect as the requirements of the recommendation had been met. Implementation of this action continues and is overseen by the Education Directorate Occupational Violence Steering Committee, with the majority of short-term actions prioritised for completion by September 2017. Actions include:
- a review of staff support, including post incident support, training and induction;
- incident reporting; and
- risk management tools.
An evaluative review is scheduled in 2018 as part of a continuous improvement process to ensure ongoing, effective management of this risk.
The Directorate reported 22 notifiable incidents to WorkSafe ACT during the reporting period. Incidents reported included the discovery of asbestos, electrical shock incidents and falls. Incidents also included where a worker or third party attended hospital or sought medical treatment.
Each of these incidents was examined and corrective actions identified and implemented in consultation with WorkSafe where appropriate.
During the 2016-17 reporting period, 2,242 worker work health and safety incident reports were received including 38 reports for other parties. Reporting numbers increased from 1,201 in the previous year and this is reflective of increased workforce education on the importance of reporting and the provision of an online reporting tool, RiskMan.
The Directorate’s Health Safety and Wellbeing Team reviews all RiskMan incident reports and assesses the corrective actions. The Team conducted 43 follow up inspections and site visits to support schools to address the health and safety issues and to provide advice to eliminate or further reduce risk.
In addition to worker incidents, there were 1,829 student accident and incident reports for the reporting period.
Worker Consultation Arrangements and Health And Safety Representatives
Health and Safety Representatives and Worker Consultation Units
The Directorate is committed to effective communication and consultation with its workers on work health and safety matters at all levels of the organisation.
The Directorate, in consultation with its workers, has established work groups across all schools and Education Support Office to consult with its workers. The work group may include all workers, or the workers may be arranged into multiple units. Ninety-six work groups have been formed across the Directorate workplaces including all ACT public primary schools, preschools, early childhood schools, high schools, colleges, and Education Support Office locations.
The Directorate had 93 Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and 58 Deputy HSRs undertaking these roles during the 2016-17 reporting period. The primary role and function of the HSR is to represent workers within their Worker Consultation Unit in relation to health and safety matters.
Directorate leaders include health and safety issues as a standing agenda item at staff meetings.
The Directorate has established reporting frameworks and network wide consultation opportunities to formalise discussions with stakeholder groups including regular reporting to the Directorate’s leader on health and safety performance.
Quarterly network meetings for key stakeholder groups including HSRs, building service officers, business managers and principals are held to ensure up-to-date health and safety information is disseminated and discussed throughout the Directorate.
Injury Prevention and Management Committee
The Directorate formally consults with work groups and the Australian Education Union (AEU) through the Injury Prevention and Management Committee. The Committee is the key consultative forum for the Directorate on workplace health and safety matters including:
- providing advice to Corporate Executive regarding injury prevention and injury management performance and compliance;
- facilitating collaboration between the Corporate Executive and Directorate workers to instigate, develop and carry out measures designed to ensure workers’ health and safety at work;
- providing advice on the ongoing development and implementation of the Directorate’s WHS policies, procedures and safety priorities;
- considering health safety and wellbeing statistics, trends and performance;
- considering specific injury prevention and injury management advice and initiatives; and
- considering issues that have not been resolved or not resolved satisfactorily at a local level.
Injury Prevention and Management Programs
In 2016-17, the Directorate implemented a range of health and safety programs to support worker welfare including:
- delivery of the Influenza vaccination program to 2,531 staff;
- providing Hepatitis A/B vaccinations to targeted worker groups including building service officers, first aid officers, early childhood educators and learning support assistants;
- providing workstation assessments to assist with ergonomic set-up for 45 workers;
- providing ongoing mandatory health and safety training requirements for key worker groups within the Directorate; and
- continuing the Employee Assistance Program counselling service for workers and their families for both work and non-work related matters.
Performance Against the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012 - 2022 Targets
Target 1 – A reduction of at least 30 per cent in the incidence rate of claims resulting in one or more weeks off work
The Directorate has been performing above expectations since the introduction of the performance targets. In this reporting period however, the Directorate experienced an increased number of claims for musculoskeletal disorders, psychological injury and secondary psychological injury over previous years. An increase in claims in the broader ACT Public Service is also reflected in the data.
The Directorate is seeking proactive approaches to address this increase in claims and to support its workers’ wellbeing. The Directorate has revised its early intervention injury management support for injured workers, is focused on supporting schools with health and safety risk assessment, and is seeking specialist advice to support key stakeholder groups.
Table B7.1: Reduce the incidence rate of claims resulting in one or more weeks off work by at least 30 percent
2012 - 13
2013 - 14
2014 - 15
2015 - 16
2016 - 17
2017 - 18
2018 - 19
2019 - 20
2020 - 21
2021 - 22
Number of Education Directorate new five day claims
Education Directorate Incidence rate per 1,000 employees
Education Directorate Incidence rate target
Number of ACT Public Service new five day claims
ACT Public Service Incidence rate per 1,000 employees
ACT Public Service Incidence rate target
Source: Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate Note:
Dates are based on those claims received by Comcare in each financial year. Past years’ claim numbers may differ from results published in previous annual reports due to maturation of claims data. The report includes accepted claims which result in one or more weeks off work. Data includes claims up to 30 June 2017.
Target 2 – A reduction of at least 30 percent in the incidence rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders resulting in one or more weeks
Table B7.2: Reduce the incidence rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) by at least 30 percent\
Number of Education Directorate new five day MSD claims
Education Directorate MSD Incidence rate per 1,000 employees
Education Directorate MSD Incidence rate target
Number of ACT Public Service new five day MSD claims
ACT Public Service MSD Incidence rate per 1,000 employees
ACT Public Service MSD Incidence rate target
Source: Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate
Note: Dates are based on those claims received by Comcare in each financial year. Past years’ claim numbers may differ from results published in previous annual reports due to maturation of claims data. The report includes accepted claims which result in one or more weeks off work. Data includes claims up to 30 June 2017.
For further information contact:
People and Performance
(02) 6205 9202