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Our achievements contributed to the strategies and activities set out in our corporate and operational plans:

  • implementation of the Australian Strategy
  • communication and engagement activities
  • evidence activities
  • model WHS laws
  • ongoing development
  • workers’ compensation arrangements
  • explosives, and
  • international activities.

Implementation of the Australian Strategy

Contributing to

  • corporate plan—strategy 1
  • operational plan—activity 1

Highlights

  • published a wide range of research to support evidence-informed policy development
  • supported safe work practices in the agricultural sector through the production of practical guides, videos and reports
  • produced data for the road transport industry and partnered with National Road and Safety Partnership Program to produce three videos

The Australian Strategy promotes the vision of healthy, safe and productive working lives and sets four outcomes to be achieved by 2022.

The purpose of the Australian Strategy is to drive key national activities to achieve improvements in WHS. It is aimed at regulators, industry, unions and other organisations and governments that in turn influence work and workplaces across Australia.

The Australian Strategy is underpinned by two key principles.

  1. All workers, regardless of their occupation or how they are engaged, have the right to a healthy and safe working environment.
  2. Well-designed, healthy and safe work will allow workers in Australia to have more productive working lives.

The Australian Strategy also contains seven action areas, seven priority industries and six priority work-related disorders (Part 7 - Appendix 3).

Our activities

With the Australian Strategy now in its fifth year, work continues towards achieving the four outcomes that were set in 2012. Throughout 2016–17, we carried out numerous projects relating to the Australian Strategy’s action areas, priority industries and priority disorders.

Action areas

Health and safety capabilities

We continued the highly successful VSS, featuring the latest thinking, research, developments and best practice in WHS. Seminar topics covered a broad range of areas, particularly workplace mental health.

Leadership and culture

This action area encourages leaders to promote a positive culture for health and safety.

In March 2017, we published the report Measuring and Reporting on Work Health & Safety. Authored by Dr Sharron O’Neill and Ms Karen Wolfe, the report explores processes for gathering and communicating WHS performance information. Intended primarily for business leaders and WHS managers of medium to large organisations, the report provides an evidence-based framework for identifying appropriate WHS key performance indicators, designing useful WHS reports and considering WHS performance data in a way that adds value to business decisions.

Research and evaluation

This action area aims to build evidence-informed policy, programs and practice.

During 2016–17, we released a broad range of research to assist policy makers. Key topics included workplace mental health, shift work, return to work and musculoskeletal disorders.

Responsive and effective regulatory framework

This action area recognises that regulatory frameworks need to be flexible, responsive and adaptable to the changing work environment.

We have done significant work in relation to workplace chemicals and responded to industry concerns about the transition to the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

We are also developing a nationally consistent approach to the regulation of explosives in four key areas, and have made amendments to the regulatory framework for lead exposure.

Priority industries

Agriculture and road transport are a major focus for prevention activities during the life of the Australian Strategy. During 2016–17, we continued to focus on improving WHS in these industries.

Agriculture

While agriculture accounts for only 2.6 per cent of the Australian workforce, during 2013–15 the sector accounted for 20.3 per cent of worker fatalities. The fatality rate continues to be eight times higher than the national average for all industries. Agricultural workers also had the second highest rate of serious claims in Australia in 2014–15.

In August 2016, we published the report Work health and safety in the agricultural industry. The report identifies key risks faced by workers in the agricultural industry and provides statistics about injuries, fatalities and workers’ compensation, including how the agricultural industry compares with other industries.

In collaboration with industry experts we developed a Guide to managing risks in cattle handling, which focuses on natural cattle handling techniques.

To help people working on farms, we partnered with the National Farmers’ Federation to produce short farm safety videos with practical tips on handling stock and staying safe when working with farm machinery.

We are a member of the interdepartmental committee convened to progress a coronial recommendation to develop a consumer safety rating system for quad bikes. The committee has representatives from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Employment, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Three Safe Work Australia Members nominated by HWSA represent WHS regulators.

Road transport

While there have been substantial reductions in the numbers and rates of injuries and fatalities in road transport over the past 15 years, it remains a high-risk industry.

During 2013–15, the road transport industry:

  • had a fatality rate over eight times higher than the all-industry average, and
  • accounted for only 2.3 per cent of the Australian workforce but 19 per cent of work-related fatalities.

Road transport also accounted for four per cent of serious workers’ compensation claims in 2014–15, and recorded one of the highest rates of serious claims in Australia.

In May 2017, we published the Road transport industry profile, which contains summary data on injuries and fatalities among workers in the road transport industry. Subsequently we produced an infographic presenting the latest data on the nature, circumstances and main causes of injuries and fatalities in the industry.

Supported by the National Road Safety Partnership Program, we broadcast three virtual seminars during Road Safety week in May.

Annual progress report

The annual progress report on the Australian Strategy (Part 7 - Appendix 3) goes beyond the activities of the agency to look at work undertaken across the country. It highlights the progress achieved against the national targets.

To streamline the report—given the large volume of activities being undertaken across the country to support the Australian Strategy—it focuses on a few select topics. For 2016–17, the report covers:

  • two action areas—health and safety capabilities, and government
  • one priority industry—agriculture, and
  • one priority disorder—mental disorders.

Only those initiatives announced or implemented in the 2016–17 financial year are included in the progress report.

Mid-term review

The Australian Strategy includes a requirement for a review in 2017, to ensure it continues to generate sustained improvements in WHS. We have undertaken the review, which involved data analysis and extensive consultations with Safe Work Australia Members, representatives from employer and professional associations, government agencies, academics and community organisations.

The review findings will be published on our website in late 2017.

Communication and Engagement activities

Contributing to

  • corporate plan—strategy 2
  • operational plan—activity 2

Highlights

  • transformation the Safe Work Australia website
  • introduction of a public consultation platform called Engage
  • expansion of the VSS

Who we reached

  • more than 6,400,000 visits to the Safe Work Australia website
  • over 60,000 views, watches and listens on the VSS
  • over 13,000 Facebook followers
  • over 6,400 LinkedIn followers
  • over 1,600 Twitter followers
  • over 160 media enquiries
  • more than 20,000 subscribers to the online mailing list
  • more than 36,000 visits to the National Safe Work Month home page during October

During 2016–17 we developed a new Communication and Engagement Framework and delivered a range of effective national communication and engagement activities that raised awareness and built knowledge of WHS and workers’ compensation.

A new user-driven website

Our website receives over six million page views a year and provides Australian workers and employers with critical information about WHS and workers’ compensation, including the model WHS laws, model Codes of Practice and guidance material, research and data reports, and a range of accessible multimedia content.

Guided by the Australian Government’s digital transformation agenda, we redeveloped our website in 2016–17. Users of the website said they wanted to be able to browse for WHS information by topic, industry and publication, and easily access workers’ compensation resources. The ability to access content on mobile devices was also a high priority.

This advice, along with further research and consultation, informed a completely new approach to how content is delivered on our website. It is now tailored to reflect the needs and habits of our contemporary audience.

Engage—a public consultation platform

In April 2017 we established an online engagement platform to facilitate public consultation on WHS and workers’ compensation. Featuring a sophisticated array of easy-to-use engagement methods, the platform enables us to capture community-driven ideas, insights and evidence to inform the development and implementation of WHS and workers’ compensation policies, guidance material, codes of practice and legislation.

Expansion of the Virtual Seminar Series

Since 2014 we have broadcast free online seminars during National Safe Work Month each October to showcase the latest thinking, research, developments and best practice in WHS.

From live panel discussions to videos, webinars, podcasts, reports and infographics, the seminars feature business leaders, academics, employer associations WHS regulators and WHS experts. The purpose of the seminars is to share ideas, experiences, skills and knowledge to improve the lives of Australian workers. The seminars are designed to educate those who influence good WHS practice, demonstrate best practice, present robust evidence, data and research, and showcase innovation.

Successive evaluations and feedback have shown the seminars are popular, effectively reaching key stakeholders and generating demand for future seminars. In response, from October 2016, we moved from broadcasting for one month a year to a year-round broadcast schedule.

Throughout 2016–17, we broadcast 30 seminars to support the action areas and priority industries identified in the Australian Strategy. Highlights included:

  • Work-related fatigue and job design: Two leaders in workplace fatigue discussed how sleep is critical to our physical and mental health, our ability to think and learn, and to maintain safe and healthy workplaces.
  • Yolngu and ngapaki—Getting the WHS balance right: Rarrtjiwuy Herdman, Chairperson Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation, explained how Yolgnu beliefs and traditions, ngapaki (western) practices, and Australia’s unique far north, all intersect to influence Aboriginal rangers’ health and safety at work.
  • Future of WHS: This panel discussion examined how organisations can position themselves to thrive in the face of rapid and extensive workplace and workforce change.
  • Humanising WHS management: Expert in social psychology, Dr Robert Long, challenged WHS policy makers and industry to move away from risk-averse approaches and apply a more social understanding of human judgement and decision-making.

Visit the seminars page to watch seminars and view the broadcast schedule.

2016 National Safe Work Month

We coordinate National Safe Work Month in October each year to raise community awareness and knowledge of WHS.

During the campaign’s development we consulted with the CRG and workshopped approaches, themes and strategic imperatives. Member organisations implement extensive National Safe Work Month campaigns featuring celebrities, and advertising and engagement through television, radio, print and social media.

In 2016, we developed resources for businesses to run their own National Safe Work Month initiative, hosted the Workplace Participation Reward program, shared case studies and national statistics about WHS and ran an effective social media campaign.

The agency created a distinctive 2016 National Safe Work Month brand that was adopted by various businesses around Australia. The brand was used in social media channels and print and online media.

The Workplace Participation Reward encourages businesses to think of new and creative ways to build awareness of WHS and has been a highlight of the month since 2014. The 2016 program received a record number of entries, including entries from small, medium and large businesses around Australia. Bedford was the 2016 winner.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work and International Workers’ Memorial Day

On 28 April each year, Safe Work Australia honours those who have died at work and considers how its actions can prevent future work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses. We run an awareness-raising campaign each year to provide employers and workers with resources, information and advice to build a safer and healthier workplace.

The 2017 campaign raised awareness about the importance of WHS in Australian workplaces, with a focus on how data can make a difference, and used the simple yet effective tagline, ‘Take the lead in work health and safety’. The campaign achieved significant audience reach across all channels—in particular, social media reach doubled as compared to the 2016 campaign.

Sponsorship program

Our sponsorship program provides financial support and subject matter expertise to events and initiatives led by the wider community, bolstering the capacity of the community to actively engage with and promote WHS and workers’ compensation. Involving speaking engagements, conference events and partnerships, the sponsorship program helps us engage with key WHS influencers.

High-profile sponsorships from 2016–17 included:

Good Design Award

In partnership with Good Design Australia, we established a ‘Safe Work Australia Award for Good Design’, which recognises and promotes best WHS practice among designers and reinforces the importance of keeping health and safety in front of mind during the design process. Bombardier Transportation Australia won the 2017 award for their safe tram design.

National Safety Convention

In partnership with the Safety Institute of Australia, we sponsored the 2016 National Safety Convention. It was an extremely well-attended event featuring a range of high-quality speakers, including Safe Work Australia Members. In addition to the public engagement benefits, the event was an excellent opportunity networking among key influencers.

National Safety Council Australia

The National Safety Council of Australia represents a key stakeholder group, comprising specialist WHS professionals and senior managers. We sponsored and attend the Council’s national conference and associated awards gala. This was a key activity under the ‘leadership and culture’ action area in the Australian Strategy as it allowed Safe Work Australia to engage directly with a highly influential WHS audience.

National Road Safety Partnership Program

We collaborated with the National Road Safety Partnership Program to produce three seminars that were broadcast during Road Safety Week in May:

  • Debunking the myths around low-level speeding examined the influence speed has on crash risk, balancing the evidence against community perception of speeding and risk.
  • Fresh thinking on a tired subject addressed fatigue as a major cause of serious incidents involving heavy vehicles and explored issues around regulation, culture, fatigue mitigation, technology and accountability.
  • School zone vs work zone - there is no difference addressed ways to improve road workers’ safety through public awareness and culture.

Building awareness through annual reports

We are a proud sponsor of the Australasian Reporting Association’s Work Health and Safety Reporting Award.

The award acknowledges organisations that commit to building a productive, healthy and safe working environment and can demonstrate their commitment through clear reporting of outcomes in their annual report.

This year, for the second year in a row, the Bureau of Meteorology won the award for leading the way in positioning WHS as a core part of all their business processes and decisions.

Media and stakeholder engagement

We provide an on-call media service, responding to enquiries from national, local and industry-specific media outlets on current issues and topics. Our media service also regularly publishes WHS information and advice in industry-specific publications, answers enquiries from the public and manages a mailing list of over 20,000 subscribers.

National Safe Work Month attracted over 100 reports in general and industry-specific media coverage, including editorial in the Launceston Examiner, Queensland Times, Adelaide Advertiser, Cairns Post, Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times. Television and radio coverage included Radio 2GB in Sydney and WIN Canberra.

Safe Work Australia experts also featured in a range of media interviews, including a radio interview with ABC South East on workplace bullying, an interview with Ten Eyewitness News about bullying and harassment, and a television interview with Prime 7 on workplace mental health.

Social media

We manage a comprehensive social media presence, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Soundcloud. With an ever-increasing audience, these platforms have effectively increased the reach of our communication and engagement activities.

Popular posts for 2016–17 included:

  • A Facebook post titled ‘A horse is a horse, of course, of course’ that promoted SafeWork NSW’s Code of Practice on managing risks while interacting with horses in a work environment. The post reached nearly 12,000 people.
  • A LinkedIn post advertising fatality data and promoting World Day for Safety and Health at Work reached just over 6,400 people.
  • A tweet advertising the VSS panel on violence experienced by emergency hospital workers reached 3,720 people, despite the Safe Work Australia Twitter fan base being only 1,000.
  • A Facebook post titled ‘True or false? We should avoid taking risks’ that promoted the podcast on risk by Dr Robert Long generated a lengthy, balanced and well-informed discussion between Facebook fans about risk management in the WHS space.

Outlook for 2017–18

In 2017–18 we will increase engagement through tailored communication activities and channels that meet our audience’s circumstances.

The VSS will continue regular broadcasting and will feature:

  • WHS insights into large event management
  • WHS in a safety critical environment, featuring the Lucas Heights Nuclear Reactor
  • the intersection between workplace bullying and WHS, fair work and anti-discrimination legislation, and
  • expert insights into good work design, shift work and fatigue.

We will conduct a range of public and closed consultations on our online consultation platform Engage, including:

  • reviews to existing model codes and guidance materials, and
  • new guidance materials.

Feature story - Bedford rewarded for empowering staff to ‘BSafe’

The 2016 Workplace Participation Reward went to Bedford Group—an organisation supporting people with disability.

Bedford’s BSafe campaign raised awareness about WHS in a fun, positive and engaging way. Activities were focused on the catchphrase ‘see something…say something’ and included WHS videos starring Bedford staff, discussion groups, posters and a reward program recognising outstanding safety awareness and responsible behaviour. A creative ‘spot the hazard’ activity pack also provided an interactive experience to cater for the diverse capacities of Bedford employees.

The BSafe initiative was enthusiastically embraced with 300 support staff and more than 1,200 employees with disability participating across 19 Bedford sites in South Australia and New South Wales.

Bedford’s entry demonstrated a strong commitment to WHS during National Safe Work Month and a longer term plan to build on the momentum and results achieved in October.

The reward offers a prize valued at up to $5,000 to attend an Australian WHS conference, expo or event in 2017. In addition to Bedford’s winning entry, we highly commended the entries from the City of Ballarat, Fremantle Ports, NHP Electrical Engineering and Taronga Conservation Society.


Image of Sally Powell, Chief Executive Bedford Group with Mr Frank Cachia, Communication and Engagement Director, Safe Work Australia
Sally Powell, Chief Executive Bedford Group with Mr Frank Cachia, Communication and Engagement Director, Safe Work Australia

Feature story - Progress towards psychologically healthy and safe workplaces

Each year, thousands of Australian workers and their organisations are adversely affected by poor psychological health and safety. The need for a concerted national effort led to mental disorders becoming a priority in the Australian Strategy and a focus for Safe Work Australia.

National guide

Workplaces need better understanding and authoritative advice on how to protect workers’ psychological health and safety and meet their legal obligations under both WHS and workers’ compensation laws. To meet this need, we are developing a national guide—An integrated approach to work-related psychological health and safety. The guide is expected to be released early in 2018

Virtual seminars

This year, as in previous years, we released targeted virtual seminars to increase awareness of WHS issues related to psychological health and safety. The focus for 2016–17 was workplace violence.

  • Part one, released in October 2016, provided moving first-hand accounts of the impact of violence on four first responders (a police officer, registered nurse, paramedic and fire fighter). This was the second most popular 2016 seminar with over 2,800 views.
  • Part two, released in March 2017, was a panel discussion exploring the serious and often under-reported problem of violence in emergency departments. Panellists provided regulator, employer and worker perspectives. This session generated viewer requests to explore this issue in other occupational settings.

Collaboration

Collaborating with respected mental health organisations allows nationally consistent, evidence-informed messages to reach a wider audience.

Since 2013, Safe Work Australia has been a leading member of the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance. This group works with influential organisations like the National Mental Health Commission, beyondblue, Sane, Black Dog, Comcare, and employer representatives and unions. They develop a range of free, practical resources, which are released on the popular Headsup website.

We have also undertaken a collaborative research project—Bullying and harassment in Australian Workplaces: Results from the Australian Workplace Barometer 2014/15.

These important projects are helping to inform national policy and prevention approaches. They are a small part of ongoing collaborative work that we will continue to pursue to encourage greater awareness and understanding of how to achieve psychologically healthy and safe workplaces.

Evidence activities

Contributing to

  • corporate plan—strategy 3
  • operational plan—activities 3 and 4

Highlights

  • published five research reports and seven statistical publications on issues such as psychosocial hazards and musculoskeletal disorders
  • collaborated with research institutions to progress research on key work issues
  • utilised the Emerging Issues Program to focus on the future of WHS
  • responded to over 400 enquiries for statistical information
  • led the review of the AMR to revitalise its objectives and improve accessibility

In 2016–17, Safe Work Australia rebuilt and refreshed its evidence function. Analysis of work to date showed an opportunity to focus on delivering practical research and data to better inform policy, programs and practice in national WHS and workers’ compensation.

With the changing nature of work and workplaces, we are looking at new ways that the information we collect and analyse can be used to understand the challenges that are likely to arise in the future.

Our 2016–17 Evidence Work Plan focused on finalising work in progress and the release of a range of evidence reports, publications and insights into WHS and workers’ compensation.

WHS research

Our 2016–17 research on WHS issues was conducted in line with the Evidence Work Plan.

Australian Work Exposure Studies

Since 2014 we have collaborated with Dr Lin Fritschi, of the Curtin University of Technology, on the Australian Work Exposure Studies (AWES) project. The AWES project uses tailored surveys to infer potential exposures to disease-causing hazards such as carcinogens and asthmagens.

In 2016–17, a summary report on the prevalence of exposure to asthmagens was published on our website.

Six additional reports were published in previous years examining exposures to carcinogens within specific industries, and researchers have published 18 journal articles using the AWES data.

Our work on the AWES project was completed in 2016–17. The final two reports on the burden of occupational cancer and asthma will be finalised in 2017–18.

The success of the AWES approach was recognised in August 2016 when the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work announced it has commissioned a study to assess the feasibility of an AWES-based approach for use in Europe.

Personality and Total Health through Life

The Personality and Total Health through Life (PATH) project is a large, ongoing community survey of residents of Canberra and Queanbeyan, with participants from three cohorts aged in their early 20s, 40s and 60s at baseline. We have worked in conjunction with the Australian National University (ANU) on the PATH project for a number of years.

Participants have been reinterviewed every four years since 1999. The survey contains a wealth of information, including data enabling investigation of the intersection between work and health such as measures of work-related issues like bullying, injury, psychosocial environment, sedentary behaviour, shift work, days out of role and early retirement.

In 2016–17 Safe Work Australia and the ANU analysed the PATH data to develop an understanding of the impact of psychosocial factors on early retirement.

People at Work

We continued our longstanding involvement in the People at Work (PAW) project run by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. We take an active role in the project governance committee, which is working towards making the PAW tool and resources available online to businesses wishing to assess psychosocial risks in their workplace.

In 2016–17, the HWSA formed a working group to provide a forum for the project to continue. Copies of the PAW tool and resources have been made available to download from the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website.

To further promote the PAW tools and resources, we are looking to include the PAW project in our VSS.

Australian Workplace Barometer

The Australian Workplace Barometer project was completed at the end of 2016, with the publication of two reports on our website:

  • Bullying and harassment in Australian workplaces: Results from the Australian Workplace Barometer 2014/15
  • Psychosocial safety climate and better productivity in Australian workplaces: Costs, productivity, presenteeism, absenteeism. This report quantified the cost of poor organisational commitment to psychological health and safety. It also highlighted the productivity benefits and gains to worker wellbeing that can be achieved by addressing mental health in the workplace.

New projects commenced in 2016–17

Australian Research Council linkage grant: working longer, staying healthy

In 2016–17, Safe Work Australia committed to providing in-kind support to this project as a partner organisation and through participation on the project reference group.

A multi-institution agreement was signed by all research partners in December 2016.

This project comprises a number of sub-studies aimed at providing the evidence needed to design policy and workplace interventions to accommodate older workers.

Centre of Excellence on Population Ageing Research

In September 2016, the Australian Research Council awarded a seven-year funding extension to the Centre of Excellence on Population Ageing Research, to commence in mid-2017.

The centre will examine the challenges in creating good work for mature workers, and seek to identify the kinds of work that preserve physical and mental capacity among mature workers.

In 2016–17, Safe Work Australia committed to providing in-kind support for the first three years.

Emerging Issues Program

Our Emerging Issues Program is an avenue to identify and monitor key issues that may require a proactive national policy response.

In 2016–17, we focused on three areas: sedentary work, working in heat and the future of work

Sedentary work

We actively contributed to the development of the University of Queensland’s Be Upstanding champion toolkit. This world-first resource is designed to reduce sitting time by providing workplaces with best practice guidance using multimedia materials.

In 2017–18, we will work with the University of Queensland to refine the toolkit and showcase it in the VSS.

Working in heat

The increasing intensity and duration of heat waves present potential serious health and safety risks.

After reviewing existing guidance material and recent research it was agreed there was a need for nationally consistent guidance to help duty holders better manage health and safety risks. This guidance is under development and will be finalised before summer 2017–18.

The future of work

The unprecedented level of change in the nature of work and the rapid growth of disruptive technology is likely to have implications for WHS and workers’ compensation. Safe Work Australia commissioned CSIRO’s Data61 team, the 2016 authors of Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce, to revisit the report to identify WHS and workers’ compensation implications. The project focuses on:

  • information and communications technology
  • digitalisation
  • artificial intelligence
  • robotics, and
  • the associated rise of new economic structures and business models that utilise these advances.

CSIRO will provide the final report to Safe Work Australia later in 2017.

Data and analysis

We play a key role in developing evidence-informed policy through the compilation and analysis of three national data collections:

  • the National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics (NDS)
  • the work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities (TIF) collection, and
  • the Comparative Performance Monitoring (CPM) program.

The collections have a variety of data sources including administrative data provided by jurisdictions, fatality data from the National Coronial Information System and employment data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

In addition to the three main data collections, we access other relevant data sources to supplement and augment current knowledge of work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities. These data sources include disease and injury statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, information on mesothelioma from the Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR), and survey-based data on work-related injuries from the ABS.

Our data and analysis activities were undertaken in accordance with the Evidence Work Plan. Key activities included maintenance and progressive development of data collections, delivery of a statistics enquiry service, and production of a suite of statistical publications.

National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics

The NDS provides uniform and nationally comparable indicators of WHS performance and experience. The NDS data collection has operated for over 30 years and despite two revisions to the data collection framework, provides an unparalleled time series of information on work-related injuries in Australia.

The NDS is compiled annually from administrative data associated with workers’ compensation claims made under workers’ compensation laws. NDS data has an approximate two year lag time due to the time needed to process claims, and code and compile a national data set. Therefore, in 2016–17, the latest available NDS data was for claims lodged in 2014–15.

Fatality data collections

We collect information on TIF from a number of different sources, including:

  • notified fatalities from WHS jurisdictions—this data is published monthly in the Notifiable Fatality report
  • the NDS, which holds information on compensated fatalities resulting from injuries
  • the National Coronial Information System, which includes records of all unexpected fatalities in Australia, and
  • media reporting.

This data is combined to compile the TIF data set. It is the most comprehensive and accurate source of work-related injury fatalities data in Australia.

We also compile data on fatalities associated with the use of quad bikes, which is published on QuadWatch— a microsite of our website.

Comparative Performance Monitoring

We maintain a data collection and reporting program that compares the performance of WHS and workers’ compensation schemes in Australia and New Zealand. The CPM program was established in 1998 and is supported by a Data Providers Network involving representatives from Australian jurisdictional authorities and New Zealand. The CPM collection is complemented by the NDS and TIF collections.

In 2015–16, a review of the CPM program was completed and 19 recommendations were made. This review followed substantial changes to WHS and workers’ compensation arrangements across jurisdictions over recent years. Some of the recommendations were implemented in 2016–17, and the remaining recommendations will be implemented between 2017–18 and 2019–20.

Key reports

Four major statistical reports were published during 2016–17:

  • Australian workers’ compensation statistics 2014–15 summarises statistics from the NDS for non-fatal workers’ compensation claims by key employment and demographic characteristics. It includes a chapter comparing the characteristics of serious claims for metropolitan, regional and remote areas.
  • Work-related traumatic injury fatalities, Australia 2015 is published annually and provides comprehensive statistics on work-related traumatic injury fatalities in Australia, including both workers and bystanders. Information for this report was sourced from the TIF collection.
  • 2016 Comparative Performance Monitoring report (18th edition) contains the latest NDS data and jurisdictional performance against agreed indicators. The 18th edition of this annual report includes new indicators consistent with a number of recommendations of the review.
  • Comparison of workers’ compensation arrangements in Australia and New Zealand complements the CPM report. It is an annual report on the operation of workers’ compensation schemes in each of the Australian jurisdictions and New Zealand. It is a valuable resource and essential guide for those in the workers’ compensation field.

Other statistical publications in 2016–17:

  • Road transport industry profile
  • Work health and safety in the agriculture industry
  • Statistics on work-related musculoskeletal disorders
  • A comparison of work-related injuries among shiftworkers and non-shiftworkers.

International comparison

We are currently undertaking a construction industry pilot project to identify international WHS best practice for possible application in Australia. Analysis of international data has enabled identification of high-performing countries in relation to construction industry WHS outcomes, and analysis of the WHS approaches in these countries now being conducted.

This work will result in an overview of the strategies and initiatives implemented in other countries that could be used to inform the design of appropriate WHS measures and interventions in Australian WHS jurisdictions.

Once the pilot is complete Members will decide whether the project should be expanded to include the remaining priority industries under the Australian Strategy.

National Return to Work Survey

We manage the National Return to Work Survey on behalf of Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions. This biennial survey collects information through interviews with over 4,000 injured workers with a workers’ compensation claim in Australian jurisdictions (excluding the ACT) and New Zealand. The survey is co-funded by Safe Work Australia and participating jurisdictions.

The third survey was conducted in April 2016. During 2016–17, we analysed the 2016 results and published a summary of the results on our website. Preparations are under way for the next survey, to be conducted in 2018.

We are preparing a series of reports and fact sheets examining the relationship between certain variables and return to work outcomes in previous survey results.

In 2017–18 we will make de-identified data from previous surveys available on the Australian Data Archive, which means the data will be available free of charge to academic researchers and other users.

Statistical enquiries service

Our statistical enquiries service responded to over 400 enquiries in 2016–17. Most enquiries are answered with customised responses within three days. The service enables us to make our statistical assets and resources available to a range of stakeholders with an interest in WHS and workers’ compensation

Outlook for 2017–18

In addition to continuing to deliver on Safe Work Australia’s core evidence functions, over the next 12 months we will continue to work with stakeholders to develop a forward-thinking, strategic and practical approach to our evidence agenda.

This will include:

  • exploring opportunities to increase the availability and accessibility of Safe Work Australia’s national statistics through our website
  • transforming the structure and format of key reports to ensure they are accessible and deliver value to a broader audience
  • targeting evidence work, including research, to provide outputs that are aligned and contribute to the Safe Work Australia policy agenda, and
  • enhancing existing consultative mechanisms to increase awareness of the evidence and evaluation activities being undertaken by jurisdictions and social partners, and fostering opportunities for collaboration.

Feature story - Australian Mesothelioma Registry

Until the mid-1980s Australia was one of the world’s biggest users of asbestos. As a consequence a large amount of asbestos is still present in Australian buildings and other infrastructure. Exposure to asbestos is the predominant cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that arises in the membranous tissue that surrounds the heart, lungs, gastrointestinal and urogenital organs and lines the chest and abdominal cavities.

There is currently no cure for mesothelioma and while the latency period for the disease is generally 30 to 40 years, the progression of the disease once diagnosed is usually rapid. Average life expectancy from diagnosis to death is nine months, and even with aggressive treatment, few people survive longer than two years.

Given the high use of asbestos in the past, Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of mesothelioma. Since 2012, on average 721 people have been diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, while an average of 630 mesothelioma patients have died each year.

Safe Work Australia established the AMR in 2011 to provide a body of evidence and source of data around mesothelioma and asbestos exposure. Managed by the Cancer Institute of New South Wales with input from the Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, the AMR contains information on all new cases of mesothelioma and the occupational and environmental exposure to asbestos in individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma.

The purpose of the AMR is to provide a national data set of mesothelioma cases that can be used by those working to reduce the incidence of mesothelioma and deal with the asbestos present in Australia. The AMR’s asbestos exposure information supports and informs research, operational activities, policy and program development and public awareness and educational campaigns.

The data collected by the AMR is reported annually. The 2015 report was published in September 2016, and the 2016 report is expected to be published in the second half of 2017.

In 2016–17, Safe Work Australia continued to fund and manage the contract to deliver the AMR, including active participation on the AMR Management Committee. In addition, an independent review of the AMR was finalised in 2016–17, evaluating the AMR’s success in achieving its objectives and ensuring effectiveness, efficiency and value for money.

As a result of the review findings, new arrangements for the AMR were agreed by Safe Work Australia Members and will be implemented early in 2017–18. These include a revised statement of purpose and objectives for the AMR. The AIHW was chosen to manage the AMR from 2017–18 onwards. This institute, with its long and established track record of compiling, maintaining and reporting on complex health-related data sets, is well placed to continue the valuable work of the AMR. Safe Work Australia thanks the Cancer Institute of New South Wales for its excellent work in establishing and managing the AMR over the past six years.

Work Health and Safety Statistics infographic. The traumatic injury fatalities for 2016 were 182 workers, 1.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers, 49% reduction in rate of fatalities since 2007. The highest fatality industries in 2016 were transport, postal and warehousing with 47 fatalities, 7.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers, 51% reduction in rate since 2007. Agriculture, forestry and fishing with 44 fatalities, 14.0 fatalities per 100,000 workers, 7% reduction in rate since 2007. Construction with 35 fatalities, 3.3 fatalities per 100,000 workers, 31% reduction in rate since 2007. The total economic cost of work-related injury and disease was estimated to be $61.8 billion (4.1% of GDP) for the 2012–13 reference year.

Work Health and Safety Statistics infographic. The serious claims in 2015–16 were 104,770 serious claims, 9.3 serious claims per 1,000 employees. The change in serious claims between 2005–06 and 2014–15 was 15% reduction in number of serious claims, 30 per cent reduction in incidence rate (claims per 1,000 employees). All priority industries under the Australian Strategy have witnessed reductions in the incidence rate of serious claims per 1,000 employees between 2005–06 and 2014–15. Agriculture, forestry and fishing ahd a 25% reduction. Transport, postal and warehousing had a 36% reduction. Manufacturing had a 37% reduction. Construction had a 27% reduction Health care and social assistance had a 21% reduction. Public administration and safety had a 32% reduction. Accommodation and food services had a 26% reduction.

Model work health and safety laws

Contributing to

  • corporate plan—strategy 4 and 5
  • operational plan—activity 5

Highlights

  • finalised amendments for the WHS requirements for inorganic lead
  • began reviewing Workplace Exposure Standards
  • implemented the GHS
  • updated guidance on workplace bullying for both workers and managers
  • published the model Code of Practice: Managing risks in stevedoring
  • commenced the review of the model Codes of Practice

In 2016–17, we continued our work on the model WHS laws and supporting materials to help achieve healthy safe and productive workplaces.

Implementation and review of the model WHS laws

The model WHS laws were first implemented in 2012 by the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory governments. South Australia and Tasmania implemented the model WHS laws in 2013. Victoria and Western Australia have not yet implemented the model WHS laws.
Consistent with the decisions of WHS ministers, we are preparing for the review of the content and operation of the model WHS laws in 2018. WHS ministers’ approval of the terms of reference for the review will be sought in mid-2017.

Examination of the model WHS laws

In May 2014, the COAG asked WHS ministers to examine ways to improve the model WHS laws, with a particular focus on reducing regulatory burden. We assisted WHS ministers by drafting the COAG report Improving the model work health and safety laws and an accompanying decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS). The COAG report and decision RIS formed the basis for the amendments to the model WHS laws that were published in August 2016.

In drafting the COAG report, WHS ministers tasked Safe Work Australia with reviewing the model WHS Regulations separately to identify opportunities to reduce regulatory burden to businesses. In 2016, we finalised the report and Decision RIS Reducing regulatory burden in the model Work Health and Safety Regulations, which recommended a number of amendments to the model WHS Regulations. WHS ministers agreed to 16 amendments to the model WHS laws and we are currently progressing these amendments.

Evaluation of WHS laws

Over the past five years, we have conducted a wide range of research as part of the Evaluation Plan. The Evaluation Plan is in its final year.

In 2016–17, the final survey, Health and Safety at Work, was conducted. The survey was sent to a nationally representative sample of 10,000 businesses across Australia, with more than 2,450 businesses responding.

The survey sought answers to questions including:

  • the cost of WHS activities undertaken in businesses
  • the broader impacts of WHS expenditure, and
  • businesses’ motivations for WHS expenditure.

We will analyse the survey outcomes and prepare a report on the findings in 2017–18.

Review of the model WHS Regulations for diving work

In 2015, we began a review of the model WHS Regulations for diving work. The review examined the adequacy and appropriateness of the regulatory framework for diving. Consultation revealed a variety of viewpoints from diving work participants across a number of industries which has hampered progress on the review. In 2016–17, Safe Work Australia Members considered options to address the concerns identified during the review. The review will conclude by mid-2017.

WHS requirements for inorganic lead

In December 2016, based on the outcomes of a Decision RIS, WHS ministers agreed to amendments to the model WHS Regulations for inorganic lead. Amendments to the model WHS Regulations are currently being prepared and will be provided to WHS regulators for implementation in 2017–18.

Review of model Codes of Practice

Safe Work Australia agreed that the model Codes of Practice would be reviewed every five years. A review commenced in February 2017 on 23 model codes that were published in 2011–12. The review has a narrow scope—it will seek to identify and address any technical errors or out-of-date information, and anything that makes information in the model codes difficult to access, understand or apply. Work on the review will continue throughout 2017–18.

Model Code of Practice: Managing risks in stevedoring

In December 2016, we published the model Code of Practice: Managing risks in stevedoring. The model code was unanimously supported by WHS ministers and is the first new model code published since 2012. It has already been adopted as an approved code of practice in South Australia and Tasmania.

The model code covers the safe loading and unloading of vessel cargo, stacking and storing on the wharf, and receival and delivery of cargo within a terminal or facility.

The model code is the product of a number of years of work including extensive consultation. We conducted two public consultation periods on the draft model code and worked with an advisory group to ensure the model code provides appropriate guidance on managing WHS risks in the stevedoring industry.

Information sheet on Australian and other standards

In December 2016, we published the information sheet Australian and other standards. This guidance aims to minimise misconceptions about the role and status of Australian and other standards referenced in model WHS 60 / Safe Work Australia Annual Report 2016–17

Regulations and model codes. There are no standards referenced in the model WHS Act.

Revised bullying and harassment guides

In September 2016, we published two revised guides on workplace bullying to provide greater guidance for managers and workers on:

  • improving transparency when dealing with reports of workplace bullying
  • demonstrating management commitment when identifying, preventing and responding to workplace bullying
  • designing safe systems of work to reduce the risk of workplace bullying, and
  • unlawful discrimination.

Both guides were updated for consistency with Australian workplace relations and anti-discrimination laws.

Implementation of the GHS

Australia’s five-year transition to the GHS ended on 31 December 2016. The GHS updates Australian requirements for chemical classification and hazard communication in line with international best practice.

In 2016–17, we published guidance materials to help duty holders comply with the new requirements. A new guide to help duty holders classify hazardous chemicals is planned for 2018, and the model codes supporting the GHS are being reviewed to ensure they continue to provide accurate and useful advice to duty holders.

A number of implementation issues arose during Australia’s transition to the GHS, which we worked cooperatively to resolve. A significant issue was the application of the GHS labelling requirements under the model WHS laws to agricultural and veterinary chemicals that are also required to be labelled in accordance with the scheme administered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

To resolve this issue, amendments were made to the model WHS Regulations to reduce the regulatory burden for manufacturers and importers of agricultural and veterinary chemicals while ensuring worker health and safety was not reduced. The amendments had the following effects:

  • veterinary medicines listed in Schedule 8 of the Poisons Standard and veterinary medicines listed in Schedule 4 of the Poisons Standard when in a form and packaging consistent with direct administration to animals, are not required to be labelled in accordance with the GHS
  • duty holders do not need to duplicate health or safety information that already exists under a separate labelling scheme, and
  • GHS labelling requirements are not required in relation to hazardous chemicals, including agricultural and veterinary chemicals already in the supply chain.

Guide to managing risks of exposure to carcinogens in the workplace

This new guide provides information on how to manage health and safety risks associated with the storage, handling, use and disposal of chemical carcinogens in the workplace. It explains specific duties related to prohibited or restricted carcinogens under WHS laws and supplements existing guidance on managing risks associated with hazardous chemicals

Updates to guidance material

During 2016–17 we updated various guidance material, including:

  • Model Code of Practice: Managing Risks of Plant in the Workplace
  • General guide to managing risks of machinery in rural workplaces
  • guidance material for cranes, and
  • guidance material for amusement devices.

Ongoing development

Guidance to improve the understanding of officers’ duties

The 2014 COAG report, Improving the model work health and safety laws, recommended additional guidance be developed to improve the understanding of officers’ duties and standards of due diligence.

We are developing national guidance on officers’ duties in response to the COAG recommendations. The guidance will be aimed at smaller business owners and operators, and comprise short fact sheets and videos with practical advice and information. This material will be developed in 2017–18 and published on our website.

High-risk work licensing

In 2016–17, we engaged with WHS regulators to share information and facilitate understanding of harmonisation issues relating to high-risk work licensing and the National Assessment Instruments (NAIs) used to assess worker competency to perform high-risk work.

The NAIs are regularly reviewed for accuracy, currency of content and useability, and in December 2016 we began such a review. A Temporary Advisory Group comprising representatives from Commonwealth, state and territory regulators and social partners was convened to undertake the review. We continue to support the review by providing secretariat services for the group and contributing editorial assistance to maintain consistency and improve readability of the 29 NAIs. Vocational education and training (VET) sector issues relating to skills and training are not within Safe Work Australia’s powers and functions, and therefore Safe Work Australia’s lack of control and influence over the NAI process has hampered progress with this review.

We undertook activities to enhance the quality of training for high-risk work licences, including:

  • establishing closer working relationships with the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training, the Australian Skills Quality Authority and the Skills Services Organisations responsible for developing training packages for high-risk work
  • advocating for improvement to general construction induction (White Card) training
  • assisting with the translation of a number of units of competency for high-risk work to the COAG-endorsed National Skills Standards Council template, and
  • improving information available on our website about high-risk work licensing.

Prefabricated concrete elements

In consultation with industry and technical specialists we are progressing work to finalise a guide for prefabricated concrete elements including tilt-up methods in building construction. The guide will be released in 2017–18 along with supporting material, such as mobile and tablet compatible infographics and short videos delivering key safety messages.

Feature story - Quad bikes

Each year there are thousands of serious work-related injuries and a number of fatalities in the agricultural sector. In 2012 agriculture was made a national priority under the Australian Strategy. Quad bikes, which are a leading cause of death and injury in this sector, are an ongoing focus for Safe Work Australia.

A nationally consistent, evidence-informed approach to quad bike safety is key. We actively facilitate policy discussion and information sharing between regulators and stakeholders on quad bike data and research, information on safe use training and jurisdictional responses like rebate schemes.

The General guide for managing risks of machinery in rural workplaces and the Quad bikes in rural workplaces information sheet will be updated to reflect the latest research. Importantly, they now include information on risk assessment and installation of crush protection devices.

Our website and the national QuadWatch microsite, which we manage, provide information on quad bikes to inform understanding of the risks associated with their use. This includes fatality and incident data, publications, infographics, videos, guidance material, information on training and protective equipment, and jurisdictional resources. These continue to be extremely popular with users across Australia.

We are an active member of Farmsafe Australia, providing financial support for its secretariat to ensure this important group remains viable. Farmsafe Week, held in July each year, remains an important event in our communications calendar.

In response to recent coronial inquests into quad bike deaths held in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania, Safe Work Australia wrote to Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, seeking support for the Commonwealth Department of Employment to establish an interdepartmental committee to improve quad bike safety. Senator Cash established an interdepartmental committee with cross-jurisdictional and cross-portfolio representation, including Safe Work Australia. The interdepartmental committee has been tasked with progressing a safety rating system to improve quad bike safety.

image of quad bike

Feature story - The Hazardous Chemical Information System

On 1 January 2017, the GHS became mandatory in most Australian jurisdictions. This system provides an internationally consistent framework for chemical classification and hazard communication. A new hazardous chemical database—the Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS)— was prepared to support the introduction of the GHS. It replaced the HSIS, which was based on now outdated criteria.

The HCIS is a database of information on chemicals that have been classified in accordance with the GHS. It contains the classifications and labelling information for over 4,500 chemicals, and workplace exposure standards for 690 airborne contaminants.

The HCIS helps duty holders with compliance by providing up to date and easily accessible hazard classifications and labelling elements for a range of hazardous chemicals. We regularly update the HCIS with new information from leading international bodies, such as the Commonwealth Department of Health and the European Chemicals Agency, and monitor the quality of the information to ensure accurate guidance is provided.

Since 1 January 2017, the HCIS has tracked over 222,000 page views with over 21,000 users. Over 50 per cent of users return to the site, indicating repeated use of the resource and highlighting both the value of the HCIS and the usability of the database search function. Since January 2017 the site has averaged over 1,000 views a day.

The access patterns indicate that the HCIS was used extensively by duty holders in the transition to the GHS, contributing to the effective control and management of hazardous chemicals throughout Australia.

Views by month on the HCIS webpage are:

Month Total Views
Jan-17 3,093
Feb-17 34,903
Mar-17 45,254
Apr-17 33,924
May-17 39,330
Jun-17 35,266
Total 191,955

Workers’ compensation arrangements

Contributing to

  • corporate plan—strategy 6
  • operational plan—strategy 6

Highlights

  • established a National Permanent Impairment Coordinating Committee
  • developed a draft best practice framework for claims management of psychological injuries in the workers’ compensation sector

We continue to work with our stakeholders to identify projects that will improve consistency in workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia. Key projects in 2016–17 were in the areas of permanent impairment and return to work.

Assessment of permanent impairment

We developed and implemented nationally consistent arrangements for the assessment of permanent impairment resulting from an injury or disease within the context of workers’ compensation. This work was approved by WHS ministers and the scope was endorsed by Safe Work Australia Members.

In 2014, we developed template National Guidelines for the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. To date, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia have adopted new guidelines based on our template.

Supporting materials were developed for workers’ compensation authorities that adopt the template National Guidelines, including a training package to use when training permanent impairment assessors.

We also established a National Permanent Impairment Coordinating Committee that will oversee amendments and improvements to the template National Guidelines and training package. The Coordinating Committee will meet for the first time in late 2017.

Return to work

We use data from the National Return to Work Survey to prepare reports and fact sheets. Previous survey results are being examined to identify the relationship between certain variables and return to work outcomes.

Reports scheduled to be finalised and published in late 2017 include:

  • Return to Work in Psychological Injury Claims and the follow-up report Return to Work: A Comparison of Psychological and Physical Injury Claims. These two reports use combined 2013 and 2014 National Return to Work Survey results to investigate the return to work of people with psychological injuries.
  • Summary Research Report: Age Analysis, which uses 2013 and 2014 National Return to Work Survey results to examine how differences in age can impact the experiences of injured workers in the workers’ compensation claim process.

We will continue to monitor National Return to Work Survey results and prepare additional reports on relevant national policy issues.

General practitioners

We commenced a project to help general practitioners achieve better health and return to work outcomes for injured workers. This project seeks to provide clarification on the role of the general practitioner in the workers’ compensation system, and to identify solutions to overcome barriers general practitioners face in dealing with that system. This work will be finalised in 2017–18.

Outlook for 2017–18

In 2017–18, we will begin a further series of projects aimed at improving the return to work outcomes of injured workers. We will also continue to:

  • develop a best practice framework for claims management of psychological injuries in the workers’ compensation sector
  • de-identify data from the National Return to Work Survey and make this available through the Australian Data Archive in late 2017
  • cofund, with WorkSafe Victoria, a three-year Institute of Safety Compensation and Recovery Research study to examine the impact of workers’ compensation system policy and practice on return to work in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The Compensation Policy and Return to Work Effectiveness Project is scheduled to finish in early 2018, and
  • work with the National Permanent Impairment Coordinating Committee and have an ongoing role in relation to permanent impairment to ensure the template National Guidelines and the National Permanent Impairment Assessor’s Training Package are maintained and updated.

Explosives

Contributing to

  • corporate plan—strategy 7
  • operational plan—activity 7

Highlights

  • WHS ministers agreed to progress reforms agreed in the Explosives Regulation in Australia: Decision Regulation Impact Statement
  • developing nationally consistent policy approaches to the four reform areas of explosives regulation.

Each jurisdiction in Australia has its own system for regulating explosives. The need for a nationally consistent explosives framework, where there are clear benefits to be derived, was recognised and approved by COAG. In March 2015, COAG senior officials agreed that WHS ministers would move forward on nationally consistent explosives regulation. WHS ministers asked Safe Work Australia to undertake this work on their behalf.

In 2016–17, we developed the Explosives Regulation in Australia Decision Regulation Impact Statement (decision RIS) for WHS ministers’ decision.

This work is a result of extensive consultation to find out how businesses were impacted by differences in explosives legislation and administrative requirements across jurisdictions.

WHS ministers agreed to the preferred option in the decision RIS, which is to progress a nationally consistent approach in four key areas: the definition of explosives, the licensing framework, notification processes and the explosives authorisation process. The decision RIS identifies the proposed reforms that will provide the greatest net benefit to the community, in keeping with COAG’s directive that reforms deliver clear benefits.

Following this decision, Safe Work Australia continued its work with SIG-Explosives to develop nationally consistent policy approaches for the four reform areas, with a view to presenting policy proposals to WHS ministers in early 2018 for consideration.

International activities

Contributing to

  • corporate plan—strategy 8
  • operational plan—activity 8

Highlights

  • hosted Singapore’s Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office and Manpower and 16 other government officials and industry partners
  • led Australia’s delegation to the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the GHS
  • attended Singapore’s Workplace Safety and Health Conference

We maintained an active presence internationally and continued to strengthen relationships with key international stakeholders throughout 2016–17.

International liaison and engagement

We liaise with other countries and international organisations on matters relating to WHS and workers’ compensation, including representing Australia on international matters. International engagement activities allow Australia to contribute to global efforts to improve WHS and learn from other countries to inform national policy and practice in Australia.

In August 2016, our Chief Executive Officer, Ms Baxter, participated in the 5th meeting of Singapore’s International Advisory Panel (IAP) for Workplace Safety and Health. As a member of the IAP, Ms Baxter shared her expertise and Australia’s approaches to managing Australia’s WHS challenges. The meeting was highly productive, with the IAP members making nine recommendations to support Singapore’s Workplace Safety and Health 2018 Plus Plan. The recommendations were accepted by Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office and Manpower, Mr Sam Tan Chin Siong, on behalf of the Singaporean Government. In November 2016, Safe Work Australia hosted Minister Sam Tan and an accompanying delegation on a study tour.

Concurrent with the 2016 IAP meeting, Ms Baxter attended the Workplace Safety and Health Conference 2016. Ms Baxter moderated a symposium at the conference on ‘Work ability and fitness for work – the way forward’ and participated as a workplace safety and health dialogue panellist.

Safe Work Australia continues its role leading the Australian delegation to the United Nations Subcommittee of Experts on the GHS. This subcommittee is responsible for updating and improving the chemical classification and labelling system used by Australia and its major trading partners. The 32nd meeting of the subcommittee in Geneva finalised several revisions to the next edition of the GHS, including the development of new classification criteria for flammable gases. The meeting also 68 / Safe Work Australia Annual Report 2016–17 progressed several other bodies of work, such as the development of new international criteria and guidance on dust explosions, and guidance on non-animal testing.

Outlook for 2017–18

The XXI World Congress on Safety and Health at Work 2017 will be held from 3–6 September in Singapore. The world congress is a significant international event and attracts around 3,500 delegates, including senior officials, academics and practitioners, to discuss strategic WHS policy issues. The event is organised by the Occupational Safety and Health Division of Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower in conjunction with the International Labour Organization and the International Social Security Association.

Safe Work Australia will host a symposium at the world congress titled ‘The workplace diversity dimension of OSH’. The symposium will explore workplace diversity and globalisation, including areas such as migrant workers, assessing WHS hazards and risks through a diversity lens, and designing work to accommodate the diversity of all workers. Research and experiences will be shared by representatives from Italy, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. Ms Baxter will co-moderate the symposium with Ms Kala Anandarajah, Deputy Chairperson of the Singaporean Work Safety and Health Council.

Safe Work Australia’s involvement in the world congress will provide the opportunity to renew Australia’s strong relationship with our Singaporean counterparts and form new connections with other international stakeholders.

In 2017–18, Ms Baxter will continue to represent Australia on the G20 Occupational Safety and Health Experts Network and contribute to the improvement of communication, coordination and information sharing between G20 countries. In September 2017, Safe Work Australia will participate in an Occupational Safety and Health Experts Network consultative meeting to discuss shared WHS policy and technical priorities. The meeting coincides with the world congress in Singapore.

Feature story - Workplace Safety and Health Industry Visit to Australia by Singapore Delegation

Safe Work Australia hosted Singapore’s Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office and Manpower, Mr Sam Tan Chin Siong, along with 16 accompanying government officials and industry partners, from 15 – 16 November 2016.

The delegation visited Australia for just over a week, to learn about Australia’s experience in legislating for officers’ duties, incident notification and reporting of near misses, workers’ compensation and return to work, the future of work, and health and safety in the building and construction industry.

Minister Sam Tan and fellow delegates met with senior representatives from Safe Work Australia. The group discussed Australian WHS laws and how they relate to officers’ duties, the reporting of major incidents and near misses, and Australian workers’ compensation and return to work. While at Safe Work Australia, delegates met with the Federal Safety Commissioner, Mr Alan Edwards, the Executive Director of the Executive Director of the Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations Division, WorkSafe ACT, Mr Michael Young, and the ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Mr Greg Jones.

Exploring these topics provided the delegates with insight to address the key priorities in Singapore’s Workplace Safety and Health 2018 Plus Plan and the nine recommendations made by the International Advisory Panel to advance Singapore’s WHS performance.

The delegation also attended the joint Department of Employment and Safe Work Australia Virtual Seminar Series live panel on the future of work, and met afterwards with Department of Employment Secretary, Ms Renée Leon.

Minister Sam Tan and delegates met with Safe Work Australia WHS and workers’ compensation stakeholders, including WorkSafe SA, WorkCover WA, WorkSafe WA and Lendlease.

The meetings with Minister Sam Tan and his delegation provided an opportunity to share our perspectives on WHS and workers’ compensation, and learn from Singapore’s expertise and experience in the WHS field.

Mr Sam Tan Chin Song, Minister of State for the Prime Minister's Office and Manpower, and Michelle Baxter, Executive Officer, Safe Work Australia
Mr Sam Tan Chin Song, Minister of State for the Prime Minister's Office and Manpower, and Michelle Baxter, Executive Officer, Safe Work Australia

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Last modified on Monday 11 December 2017 [9121|66961]