Appendix 7—Work health and safety

Work health and safety policy

The Department of Education is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment and began work to establish a Work Health and Safety ( WHS) Policy to support this commitment. The department promotes a proactive approach to health and safety management based on effective communication, consultation and systematic identification, assessment and control of risks. Key achievements over the course of the year included development of a revised Rehabilitation and Return to Work Policy and a WHS risk assessment and treatment plan.

During 2013 the former DEEWR had a Work Health Safety and Environment Committee, which was established under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The committee met regularly prior to the Machinery of Government changes. A new committee is being formed to align with changed governance arrangements and to ensure the department’s obligations are met. With state network and national office representatives, the new committee will provide a forum for consultation and will consider strategic work health and safety issues.

The department’s Due Diligence Framework assists officers to meet their responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act.

The department is committed to the creation of a strong safety culture driven by an understanding and acceptance that the responsibility for health, safety and wellbeing rests with every one of us. Activities during the year included promotion of National Health and Wellbeing Week and an influenza vaccination reimbursement scheme.

Work health and safety reporting

For 2013–14, work health and safety reporting is split into two categories, the first for the former DEEWR (to 17 September 2013) and the second for the Department of Education (from 18 September 2013). The report has been split into two categories because it has not been possible to attribute the DEEWR data to education or employment functions. The table below shows the breakdown of the incidents, with falls, slips and trips making up the highest proportion and body stressing (including muscle strains, back conditions and tendonitis/tenosynovitis) making up the next highest proportion.

In 2013–14, the former DEEWR notified Comcare of two incidents pursuant to section 38 of the Work Health and Safety Act. The Department of Education has reported one incident. This compares with nine incidents reported to Comcare by DEEWR in 2012–13.

Table 39: Reported work health and safety incidents by type 2013–14

Mechanism of incident DEEWR incidents (%) Department of Education incidents (%)
Falls on the same level (including trips and slips) 34 38.1
None 5.6 16.7
Repetitive movement with low muscle loading 17 11.9
Hitting objects with a part of the body 3.8 9.5
Unspecified mechanisms of injury 1.9 7.1
Other and multiple mechanisms of injury 1.9 7.1
Vehicle accident 5.6 2.4
Other muscular stress 11.3 2.4
Other contact with chemical or substance (includes insect and spider bites and stings) 3.8 2.4
Being hit by moving objects 1.9 2.4
Exposure to mental stress factors 7.5 0
Contact with electricity 1.9 0
Contact or exposure to heat and cold 3.8 0
Total 100 100

Note: The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations reported work health and safety incidents by type, 1 July 2013 to 17 September 2013. The Department of Education reported work health and safety incidents by type, 18 September 2013 to 30 June 2014.