Work Health and Safety

The Directorate is proactive, committed and highly responsive in providing and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all employees, visitors, contractors, stakeholders and clients. Continuous improvement is a high priority, with support and guidance provided to the EPD Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Coordinator by the CMTEDD Safety Support Team.

The Directorate had no serious injury, illness or dangerous incident that required notification to the Regulator in accordance with Part 3 section 38 of the Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).

The HR WHS Coordinator is actively involved with the whole-of-government WHS Working Group and attends regular meetings with the CMTEDD Safety Support Manager to identify and address WHS concerns as they arise. The EPD WHS Committee meets quarterly with Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) attending from across all three EPD sites.

Quarterly WHS reporting is provided to the Executive on a range of WHS matters such as, but not limited to, the number of compensation claims and non-compensation case management and associated costs (both current and projected) and the number of accidents/incidents/near misses reported via the whole-of-government electronic reporting system known as RiskMan. Regular reporting ensures emerging trends and, where necessary, the need for higher level remediation is brought to the attention of the Executive to enable it to exercise due diligence responsibilities under the WHS Act. The Directorate has three open compensation claims consisting of minor injuries.

The Directorate’s intranet has dedicated references to health and wellbeing and work health and safety with relevant links including the WHS Policy Statement, Emergency Procedures Manual, a comprehensive list identifying First Aid Officers, HSRs, Emergency Contact Officers and RED Contact Officers, in addition to a number of forms to actively encourage staff to seek advice independently.

Health and wellbeing

The Directorate is proactive, enthusiastic and committed to improving and ensuring a positive workplace culture by actively coordinating and supporting a range of health and wellbeing initiatives for employees.

The Directorate funds an Employee Assistance Program through Optum to provide a free and confidential support service 24 hours a day, seven days a week to staff and their immediate family members. This service is regularly promoted by the HR team, with brochures and posters on display throughout the workplace. The service was accessed by 6.6% of staff, of which 24 were new employee cases and four were continuing client cases. Of the total contacts made, 87.5% related to personal matters and 12.5% were work related.

Specific programs supported more broadly in the community by EPD were: Men’s Health Week, Mental Health Week, Stress Down Day, Women and Health Week, R U O.K. Day, Movember, Ride 2 Work Day and Walk to Work Day. These events were promoted to employees via HR all-staff emails encouraging them to participate.

In recognition of the benefits of a healthy and productive workforce, the Directorate actively promoted and expanded its range of health and wellbeing initiatives through the Health and Wellbeing Committee, branded ‘Healthy You’. A range of health and wellbeing initiatives is on the EPD intranet. The committee’s enthusiasm for including as many staff as possible has resulted in a dedicated intranet page and attracted participation in the following activities:

  • Stress Tolerance Seminar
  • The Pillars of Resilience Seminar
  • New Access (Beyond Blue) Information Session
  • Mental Health Guru
  • Mental Health in the Workplace Seminar
  • Let’s Talk Suicide Prevention Training
  • Managing Psychological Illness/Injury in the Workplace Seminars
  • Pedal Power–Road Safety Session
  • Yoga classes
  • Blood donor bus
  • Workplace Seated Massage
  • Touch Footy Tournament
  • Boxercise Classes
  • Members of staff in their sports gear and boxing gloves punching the boxing pad mitts of other participants in a boxercise class

The 2013–2017 Enterprise Agreement includes ongoing support for health and wellbeing initiatives by reimbursing employees up to $100 per annum for costs associated with approved activities undertaken in their own time such as gym membership, weight loss programs, swimming pool entry fees, walking/running/hiking shoes and exercise equipment. A total of 181 staff had applications for reimbursement approved during the Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) Year from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015.

The influenza vaccine was made available at no cost to staff members in April/May 2015, with 199 employees vaccinated, an increase of 27 from the previous financial year. Staff members unable to attend the in-house vaccination service were given the opportunity to receive a vaccination off-site.

Injury prevention

The Directorate maintains a proactive approach to meeting its requirements under the WHS Act through early intervention, close monitoring and prompt action to address potential/actual WHS matters.

Under the leadership of the CMTEDD Safety Support and Injury Management Team, and following the transition of approximately 130 employees in April 2015 to the new Access Canberra Division of CMTEDD, the Directorate commenced a review of its Risk Register. A large percentage of those employees transitioning to Access Canberra comprised high risk teams based with the Construction and Regulation Services and the Environment Protection Authority. The review will ensure the identified risks are more relevant to employees remaining in EPD.

Work began to ensure the Directorate’s due diligence obligations are reviewed and exercised in line with the ACTPS Due Diligence Reporting Plan, which aligns with the WHS Act.

The Directorate’s WHS Committee meets quarterly. It comprises stakeholders such as HSRs, Facilities Management, representatives from senior and executive management and a representative from the CMTEDD Safety Support Team. Worker consultation is facilitated through the HSRs and the WHS Committee

Members of staff watching a trainer with a dismantled bicycle as a prop explaining bike maintenance and road safety

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Concerns identified through HSR inspections are raised with the relevant manager in the first instance. There were no significant issues reported by HSRs for the reporting period.

Regular monthly meetings of the EPD WHS Coordinator and CMTEDD Safety Support Team are designed to evaluate current processes, identify areas in need of improvement and take appropriate action in line with ongoing process improvement initiatives.

Induction sessions for new starters included WHS information and reinforced the obligations of all employees under the WHS Act. Work station assessments are conducted by a HR representative specifically trained for this purpose, with more specialised services of occupational therapists engaged on an ‘as needs’ basis. The latter services are an additional cost to the Directorate.

The Directorate’s three office locations are supported by 13 HSRs, 31 Emergency Contact Officers, 10 First Aid Officers and nine RED Contact officers. All officers are trained, with current qualifications in place where relevant. The HSRs conduct their duties in accordance with the WHS Act, attend quarterly Work Safety Committee meetings and undertake ongoing training every two years.

Injury management and safety

The HR WHS Coordinator works closely with the CMTEDD Injury Management and Safety Support Team, EPD managers and their staff to ensure the highest level of qualified and experienced support is provided to employees in regard to compensation and non-compensation case management.

Of the three open compensation claims, one is pending a determination by Comcare and two are expected to be inactivated/closed in the new financial year. A further compensation claim was lodged but overturned upon review and therefore not accepted by Comcare.

While there is an expectation across whole-of-government that non-compensation cases are to be overseen by the relevant directorate’s HR Team, these can be time consuming, complex and long-term cases to manage. In some instances, the employee will need to be placed on a graduated return to work arrangement with a need for close monitoring, ongoing support and, on occasion, financial support in terms of physical/psychological treatments. The Directorate had two non-compensation cases for the reporting period, one of which is expected to be closed in the near future.

Emergency procedures

In compliance with Australian Standard 3745–2002, the Directorate’s emergency control procedures for buildings, structures and workplaces included conducting regular evacuation drills, bomb alerts and training of fire wardens across all office locations. The Directorate’s commitment to such practices exceeds the minimum requirement under this Australian Standard in terms of the number of evacuation drills and training sessions conducted within a calendar year.

EPD is proactive in terms of seeking new nominations from employees every 12 months to take on the fire warden role, which is a vital component of our overall WHS commitment. Expressions of interest are communicated to staff with a view to giving as many employees as possible an opportunity to become familiar with the procedures involved in regard to emergency evacuations and the various types of emergencies that may occur.

The Directorate aims to educate employees on the importance of needing to take personal responsibility for their own safety as well as others; rotating the emergency control officer role is one way of ensuring we have as many people trained in this area as we can.