B.7 Work Health and Safety

The Directorate is dedicated to improving workplace health and safety across schools and central office. Key actions for the reporting period included:

  • completion of all recommendations from the PricewaterhouseCoopers Work Health and Safety (WHS) Audit:
    • development and implementation of the WHS Risk Register for all schools and central office. The WHS Risk Register is a tool for executive, principals, managers and supervisors to manage key hazards/risks and implement appropriate controls;
    • development and publication of the WHS Manual, a suite of policy, procedure and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs);
    • completion of the Mandatory WHS Training Program for key cohorts (Business Managers, Building Services Officers, Health and Safety Representatives, First Aid Officers) and development and maintenance of a database to keep complete records of WHS induction and ongoing training completion/attendance;
    • documentation of the Directorate WHS governance and reporting structure for relevant stakeholders;
    • documentation of key details in relation to 'notifiable incidents' in a register of accidents and incidents to track the timely reporting of 'notifiable incidents' to WorkSafe ACT; and
    • reconciling of 'notifiable incidents' recorded in the Directorate's register against records held by the Chief Minister Treasury and Economic Development Directorate (CMTEDD) as an additional control measure.

Additional actions included:

  • implementation of Work Injury Reporting (Riskman) online accident and incident reporting system for staff and third parties;
  • maintenance of records for completion of WHS online training modules for induction;
  • Principal information sessions to build capacity of principals in managing their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act 2011);
  • ongoing injury prevention programs for the three highest mechanisms of injury: Slips, Trips and Falls; Being Hit By Moving Objects and Body Stressing. The Directorate continues to support the holistic, 'one service' approach to improving the health and return to work outcomes of ACTPS injured workers outlined in the ACTPS Workers' Compensation and Work Safety Improvement Plan (ACTPS Plan); and
  • continued implementation of the Directorate Injury Management Toolkit to assist Principals and Managers to understand roles and responsibilities of the return to work process and the principles of reasonable adjustment.

Investigations

The ACT Education and Training Directorate (the Directorate) was issued with three Improvement Notices on 11 June 2015 from the ACT Workplace Health and Safety Regulator, Worksafe ACT. This was in relation to a single incident at a school involving static/electric shock.

Heath Safety and Wellbeing (HSW), People and Performance reviewed policy and procedures in reporting static/electric shock in response to the notices.

In the reporting period 31 notifiable incidents were reported to Worksafe ACT and followed up by the HSW section. These related to staff and students incidents with asbestos, electricity and/or events requiring administration to hospital.

A total of 680 staff accident/incident reports were received during the 2014-2015 reporting period. This figure is a 31 percent decrease from the previous year's figure of 991.

The HSW section investigated 75 incidents reported via accident and incident reporting and/or requests to visit schools to assess WHS issues and provide advice.

CMTEDD provided support to the Directorate with the follow up of two WHS environmental issues and with the Work Injury Reporting System (Riskman) rollout.

The Directorate received 1,491 student accident and incident reports and 21 third party accident and incident reports for the 2014-2015 reporting period.

Worker consultation arrangements and health and safety representatives

As required under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 the Directorate consulted with employees regarding Worker's Consultation Units (WCU). A WCU is the group of workers with whom the consultation arrangements will be agreed and to whom they will be applied. The WCU may include all workers, or the workers may be arranged into multiple units. WCUs include all ACT Government primary schools, preschools, early childhood schools, high schools, colleges, and central office locations. A total of 92 WCUs were formed during the 2014-2015 reporting period.

The Directorate had 94 Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and 45 Deputy HSRs undertaking responsibilities during the 2014-2015 reporting period. The primary role and function of the HSR is to represent workers within their work group in relation to health and safety matters.

To support the HSRs, quarterly network meetings were conducted to ensure up-to-date health and safety information is disseminated throughout the Directorate.

Injury prevention and management

Injury prevention and management policy committee

The Injury Prevention and Management Policy Committee is the key consultative committee for the Directorate's workplace health and safety matters. The Committee has had oversight of the development of new and existing health and safety initiatives such as:

  • review of the online WHS Manual;
  • participation in the CMTEDD Health and Safety Manual Handling project;
  • implementation of Riskman, a new Accident/Incident reporting system for whole of Government; and
  • Injury Prevention and Management Policy Committee.

Injury prevention and management programs

In 2014-15, a range of programs were implemented to ensure the safety and welfare of staff including:

  • ongoing implementation of the Directorate's Health, Safety and Wellbeing Strategic Plan 2013-2015 in line with the WHS Act 2011 and the targets outlined in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-22;
  • continuing to address the timeliness associated with reporting and appropriate referrals to Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate (CMTEDD) Injury Management;
  • delivery of the Influenza vaccination program to 2355 permanent and contract employees. Hepatitis A/B vaccinations to targeted employee groups including Building Services Officers, First Aid Officers, Early Childhood Educators and Learning Support Assistants;
  • delivery of workstations assessments to assist with ergonomic set-up to 42 employees during 2014-15. This includes development of workstation safety mouse mat with ergonomic set up delivered to office based staff within the Directorate;
  • development of WHS Risk Register for all schools and central office. The WHS Risk Register is a tool for executive, principals, managers and supervisors to manage key hazards/risks and implement appropriate controls for site specific Directorate workplaces. Information sessions for principals supported the roll out of school based risk registers;
  • mandatory training conducted during 2014 - 2015 included Respectful Workplaces, Asbestos Awareness, Confined Space, Work Safely at Heights, Safe Handling of Sharps and Infectious Waste, General Manual Handling and Chemical Awareness. Training groups targeted were BSOs, Business Managers (BMs), HSRs and First Aid Officers as a control measure to assist in the reduction of Directorate risks. A Mandatory Training Plan was developed in collaboration with School Leadership and Health Safety and Wellbeing and implemented during the reporting period;
  • CMTEDD conducted two seminars in Managing Psychological Illness in the Workplace for Principals and Deputy Principals; and
  • continuation of the Employee Assistance Program which is an independent, confidential, short term, solutions-focused counseling service for staff and their immediate families. The service offers counseling for both work and non- work related matters. The average utilization rate during 2014-2015 was 5.77 percent (based on 6,117 headcount) compared to 6.21 percent in 2013-2014 reporting period.

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

Throughout the reporting period there has been a 54 percent reduction in the number of claims requiring one or more weeks off work. The Directorate target in 2014-15 of 15.15 claims per 1,000 employees has been exceeded as demonstrated by the lower claim rate of 6.29 claims per 1,000 employees (Table B7.1).

This has been achieved through early intervention and ongoing risk assessment of all accident or incident reporting and the provision of specialist advice to prevent reoccurrence and further injury. Examples include:

  • modifications to the work environment to facilitate a safe and robust return to work process;
  • workplace assessment and advice;
  • workstation assessments and increased awareness of self set up;
  • ergonomic assessments; and
  • regular contact from Executives (principals), managers and supervisors to keep the absent worker engaged.
Table B7.1: A reduction of at least 30 per cent in the incidence rate of claims resulting in one or more weeks off work
Financial year # new 5 day
claims
Rate per
1000 employees
Agency Target ACTPS
# new 5 day
claims
Rate per
1000 employees
ACTPS
Target
2012 - 13 77 16.08 16.15 369 18.07 16.64
2013 - 14 68 14.35 15.65 322 15.29 16.13
2014 - 15 31 6.29 15.15 226 10.65 15.61
2015 - 16 - - 14.65 - - 15.10
2016 - 17 - - 14.15 - - 14.59
2017 - 18 - - 13.65 - - 14.07
2018 - 19 - - 13.15 - - 13.56
2019 - 20 - - 12.65 - - 13.04
2020 - 21 - - 12.15 - - 12.53
2021 - 22 - - 11.65 - - 12.01

Source: Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate

Note:
a. Dates are based on those claims received by Comcare in each financial year
b. Past years' claim numbers may differ from results published in previous annual reports due to maturation of claims data
c. The report includes accepted claims which result in one or more weeks off work
d. Data includes claims up to 30 June 2015
.

Target 2 - A reduction of at least 30 percent in the incidence rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders resulting in one or more weeks off work

The early intervention focus adopted by the Directorate has resulted in a significant reduction in musculoskeletal disorders of 68 percent since the previous reporting period. The Directorate target in 2014-2015 of 8.70 claims per 1,000 employees has been exceeded as demonstrated by the lower claim rate of 2.44 claims per 1,000 employees (Table B7.2).

The ACTPS Manual Handling Program provides support for teachers and workers responsible for special needs students through:

  • provision of support and advice to Directorate Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team regarding Manual Handling;
  • delivery of training to specialist schools and improvement in safe work practices. The emphasis of this training has been on body stressing reduction, using lifting equipment and performing student transfers; and
  • review and advice on equipment/procedures/training and an increased assessment of the work environment.
Table B7.2: A reduction of at least 30 per cent in the incidence rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders resulting in one or more weeks off work
Financial year # new 5 day
MSD claims
Rate per
1000 employees
Agency Target ACTPS
# new 5 day
MSD claims
Rate per
1000 employees
ACTPS
Target
2012 - 13 42 8.77 9.28 238 11.66 11.12
2013 - 14 38 8.02 8.99 210 9.97 10.77
2014 - 15 12 2.44 8.70 142 6.69 10.43
2015 - 16 - - 8.42 - - 10.09
2016 - 17 - - 8.13 - - 9.74
2017 - 18 - - 7.84 - - 9.40
2018 - 19 - - 7.56 - - 9.06
2019 - 20 - - 7.27 - - 8.71
2020 - 21 - - 6.98 - - 8.37

Source: Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate

Note:
a. Dates are based on those claims received by Comcare in each financial year
b. Past years' claim numbers may differ from results published in previous annual reports due to maturation of claims data
c. The report includes accepted claims which result in one or more weeks off work
d. Data includes claims up to 30 June 2015.

For further information contact:
Director
People and Performance
(02) 6205 9203