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Department of the Environment and Heritage Annual Report 2003-04

Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004
ISSN 1441 9335

Appendix 1 - Occupational health and safety

This report is presented in accordance with the requirements of section 74 of the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991.

The Department continues to maintain a strong commitment to the health, safety and welfare of its staff and any other persons at or near work sites through the promotion of its health, safety and welfare programmes.

The Department's Occupational Health and Safety Committee continues to meet regularly to address a wide range of issues. There are also occupational health and safety committees in each of the mainland national parks and workplaces, which meet regularly to address local issues.

Comcare conducted a review of the Department's Planned Investigation Programme, which was undertaken in 2000. A number of recommendations, policies and procedures have since been implemented. Comcare has been invited back to the Department to review implementation.

A new departmental policy and agreement on occupational health and safety is currently being negotiated with the relevant unions.

Specific programme activities during 2003-04 included:

Occupational health and safety initiatives

Specific initiatives during 2003-04 included:

Considerable progress has been made towards enhancing the Australian Antarctic Division's safety management system. A safety management system framework consisting of seven major elements and 'organisational level' policy documents has been developed. Policy documents have been published and feedback obtained for three of the seven elements. The next stage of the roll out, which commenced with the Australian Antarctic Division's Operations Branch, will look at developing section safety plans for implementing local policies and procedures to meet the divisions overall occupational health and safety policy requirements.

Formal review processes (short-term, ongoing and long-term) will then be instituted to ensure effectiveness, applicability to the division's operating environment and continuous improvement.

The Australian Antarctic Division's occupational health and safety committee structure continues to be very active with meetings held every three months. A recent election was held after a call for new health and safety representatives attracted too many candidates. Training has been organised for the new representatives and refresher courses for those who continue in the role.

Occupational health and safety accident or incident reporting

During 2003-04, the Canberra-based programmes reported 26 incidents or accidents under section 68 of the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991. Additionally, Parks Australia reported 35 accidents or incidents, and the Australian Antarctic Division reported 11 accidents or incidents under section 68 of the Act.

Comcare conducted one investigation within the Australian Antarctic Division. An investigation conducted by Comcare, and reported in last year's annual report, is under review by Comcare. One internal investigation report was requested by Comcare and supplied by the Department.

There were no matters to report under section 30, 45, 46 or 47 of the Act.

Compensation and rehabilitation

Under its rehabilitation policy and guidelines, the Department continued to support injured and ill employees and provided an early return to work programme. During 2003-04, there were 12 return to work plans in place for injured staff, and five return to work plans ceased during this period. Within the Australian Antarctic Division, 19 new workers' compensation claims were made and 10 existing and ongoing claims remain open.

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