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Feature story: Delivering on the objectives of the model WHS laws

When the model WHS laws were developed, WHS ministers agreed their content and operation should be reviewed every five years after commencement. In August 2017, WHS ministers asked Safe Work Australia to conduct the first full review of the model WHS laws, to be finalised by the end of 2018. This aligns with Safe Work Australia’s statutory function to develop, maintain and, if necessary, revise the model WHS laws.

WHS ministers asked Safe Work Australia to examine and report on the content and operation of the model WHS laws, including whether they are effective and operating as intended, have had any unintended consequences and can adapt to changes in work organisations and relationships. The terms of reference called for the review to be evidence-based and propose actions that WHS ministers could take to improve the model WHS laws or identify areas for further assessment.

To ensure the process was as robust and transparent as possible, Safe Work Australia appointed an independent reviewer, Ms Marie Boland, to conduct the review (the 2018 Review). Ms Marie Boland is an experienced WHS consultant and former Executive Director of SafeWork SA. Ms Boland focused on four key questions:

  • What currently works and why?
  • Will it continue to work as work practices and environments evolve?
  • What doesn’t work and why?
  • What could we do to make it work?

Public consultation for the 2018 Review was extensive. Ms Boland released a discussion paper that outlined the review’s objectives, discussed the key areas of focus and called for written submissions. A series of online discussion forums were also available for targeted feedback on six topics.

Ms Boland travelled to every capital city and two regional centres: Tamworth and Cairns. She held meetings with safety regulators, businesses, workers, unions, industry organisations, health and safety representatives, health and safety and legal practitioners, academics and community organisations.

Through this consultation, 387 people attended 81 face-to-face consultations. Stakeholders provided over 120 comments on the online forums and over 130 written submissions. Unless otherwise requested by the authors, written contributions were published on the Safe Work Australia’s Engage web page. A consultation summary is also available on the Safe Work Australia website.

The final report of the 2018 Review was provided to WHS ministers on 18 December 2018 and published on the Safe Work Australia website on 25 February 2019.

The 2018 Review found the model WHS laws are largely operating as intended and support for harmonisation remains strong. The three-tier framework of the model WHS laws, consisting of the model WHS Act, the model WHS Regulations and the model Codes of Practice, is effective and widely supported. Stakeholders believe the framework is sufficiently flexible to accommodate the evolving nature of work and work relationships.

However, the 2018 Review report identified several areas where action may be taken to improve clarity, reduce complexity and promote consistency. The report made 34 recommendations aimed at addressing these issues, including:

  • reviewing the model WHS Regulations and model Codes as they relate to the seven priority industries in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 (the Australian Strategy)
  • amending the model WHS Regulations to deal with how to identify psychosocial risks in the workplace and the appropriate control measures to manage those risks
  • introducing new arrangements for Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and work groups in small businesses
  • clarifying requirements for workplace entry of union officials providing assistance to HSRs
  • requiring inspectors to deal with safety issues when cancelling a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN)
  • providing HSRs with the choice of training provider
  • strengthening the dispute resolution process
  • extending inspectors’ powers to require documents and answers to questions
  • including ‘gross negligence’ as an element of a Category 1 offence and creating a new offence for industrial manslaughter
  • increasing the penalty levels for WHS breaches
  • prohibiting insurance and indemnity covering WHS penalties
  • clarifying the risk management process in the model WHS Act, and
  • including a template for Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) in the model WHS Regulations, supported by development of an interactive tool.

The 2018 Review report also recommends a comprehensive review of the National Compliance and Enforcement Policy, to support consistent implementation and enforcement of the model WHS laws that underpin harmonisation.

The recommendations of the 2018 Review are subject to the COAG RIS process. This involves consulting on the impacts of implementing the recommendations and alternative options to address the problems identified by the 2018 Review. Information gathered through consultations is used to assess the impacts and identify the options with the greatest net benefit to the community, businesses and workers. This will assist WHS ministers to decide which of the 2018 Review recommendations should be implemented.

Implementation of the Australian Strategy

Function

  • Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Cth) – Item 1

Contributing to

  • Corporate plan—strategy 1
  • Operational plan—activity 1

Highlights

  • The Australian Strategy is in its seventh year of operation.
  • The Australian Strategy has contributed to reductions in traumatic injury fatalities, the incidence rate of serious injuries and the incidence rate of musculoskeletal claims.
  • Members’ response to the mid-term review into the Australian Strategy has guided measures to drive ongoing improvements across the identified priority industries and conditions.
  • A wide range of activities have been undertaken to improve health and safety on the priorities that have been identified in the Australian Strategy.

Stakeholders

  • Safe Work Australia Members
  • WHS regulators
  • All levels of government
  • Academics
  • Community organisations
  • Educational institutions
  • Employer associations
  • WHS professionals
  • Unions

‘The Australian Strategy continues to inform strategic WHS efforts across Australia.’

Seven years after its launch, the Australian Strategy continues to inform the strategic efforts of WHS regulators, industry, unions, governments and other key organisations. Stakeholder commitment to the vision of supporting healthy, safe and productive working lives, along with working towards the identified outcomes and national targets, is having a clear positive impact on WHS in Australia.

The two key principles underpinning the Australian Strategy are:

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

The Australian Strategy has set national targets to be achieved by 2022, including:

  • 20 per cent reduction in the number of traumatic injury fatalities
  • 30 per cent reduction in the rate of serious injuries resulting in one or more weeks off work, and
  • 30 per cent reduction in the rate of musculoskeletal claims resulting in one or more weeks off work.

Data compiled by Safe Work Australia indicates these targets have already been met, or are on track to be achieved by 2022. The latest data shows:

  • 36 per cent decrease in the number of traumatic injury fatalities
  • 26 per cent decrease in the incidence rate of serious injuries, and
  • 32 per cent decrease in the incidence rate of musculoskeletal claims.

Annual progress report

The Australian Strategy annual progress report, Appendix 3 - Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 annual progress report: 2018–19, details the continued progress of Safe Work Australia, Commonwealth, state and territory governments, industry, unions and other organisations in driving activities to improve health and safety, particularly in the action areas, priority industries and priority conditions. These activities collectively contribute to achieving national targets and the vision of healthy, safe and productive working lives.

During 2018–19, we saw a focus on strengthening leadership and culture in workplaces, as well as a focus on research and evaluation. Some important initiatives led by SafeWork NSW, the NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority, SafeWork SA, the University of Sydney, NT WorkSafe and WorkSafe ACT are described in Appendix 3 - Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 annual progress report: 2018–19.

A strong national evidence base depends on conducting research and evaluation. During 2018–19, SafeWork NSW conducted research into enforcement tools and interventions in conjunction with the University of Sydney. More information about these activities is in Appendix 3 - Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 annual progress report: 2018–19.

In response to the findings of the mid-term review of the Australian Strategy, more work is being done in the areas of occupational violence, bullying and vulnerable workers. Workplace guidance material in relation to bullying has been published on the Safe Work Australia website, while initial research has been commenced relating to occupational violence and vulnerable workers. Further research, analysis and consultation relating to occupational violence and vulnerable workers will be undertaken during 2019–20, with an aim to identify and address gaps in information about these emerging issues. This work will also inform development of the next Australian Strategy.

Psychological health and safety

Work-related mental health conditions (or psychological injuries) are a major concern for Australian workplaces due to the negative impact on workers, and the costs associated with the long periods away from work that are typical of these injuries.

A common theme throughout 2018–19 has been addressing the impact of mental health conditions in the workplace. Partnerships between community organisations and regulators have resulted in the development of a range of practical and useful programs and tools for managers and workers.

Safe Work Australia participates in a number of national forums on workplace mental health. These include the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities working groups Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces and People at Work, the Common Policy Principles working group established by the former Department of Jobs and Small Business for support of small business owners dealing with mental health issues, as well as the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance. Participation in these forums helps Safe Work Australia to identify sectors and industries that may need more targeted guidance for managing work-related psychological health.

Model work health and safety laws

Function

  • Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Cth) – Items 1, 2 & 6

Contributing to

  • Corporate plan—strategy 4
  • Operational plan—activity 1

Highlights

  • The 2018 review of the model WHS laws was completed.
  • We reviewed and published 13 model Codes of Practice.
  • We published guidance material to support small businesses understand officers duties.

Stakeholders

  • Safe Work Australia Members
  • Council of Australian Governments
  • WHS ministers
  • Independent laws reviewer
  • WHS regulators
  • Employer associations
  • Unions
  • WHS professionals
  • Industry associations
  • Business
  • Occupational hygienists
  • Community organisations

‘A single set of laws that provides a balanced and nationally consistent framework to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces.’

Implementation of the model WHS laws

The model WHS laws have been implemented in the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. The model WHS laws are yet to be implemented in Victoria and Western Australia. However, Western Australia undertook consultations throughout 2018 on the drafting of a new WHS law based on the model WHS Act. It is anticipated that a bill to give effect to the model laws in WA will be introduced to state parliament sometime in 2019.

2018 review of model WHS laws

Ms Marie Boland completed the independent review of the model WHS laws in 2018 (the 2018 Review). The final report of the 2018 Review was provided to WHS ministers on 18 December 2018 and published on our website on 25 February 2019. The final report makes 34 recommendations, including actions WHS ministers may take to improve the model WHS laws and identifying areas for further review. More information about the 2018 Review process can be found in Feature story: Delivering on the objectives of the model WHS laws.

The decision RIS for the recommendations of the 2018 Review will be provided to WHS ministers for consideration towards the end of 2019.

Review of model Codes of Practice

Safe Work Australia Members agreed that the model Codes of Practice would be reviewed every five years, focused on addressing any technical errors or out-of-date information, and anything that makes information in the model Codes difficult to access, understand or apply.

Following publication of the first 10 reviewed Codes in May 2018, Safe Work Australia published the remaining 13 reviewed Codes in October 2018. The newly published model Codes are:

Guidance on officer duty

Safe Work Australia conducted an evaluation of available officer duty guidance, which indicated that the term ‘officer’ and the role of officers under the model WHS Act was not well understood, particularly by small business. Small business wanted simple information to assist them to identify who is an officer in their business, and what exactly that person has to do to meet their duty of due diligence under the model WHS Act.

To address this, Safe Work Australia released a suite of national guidance material in December 2018 on how officers can meet their due diligence obligations. This includes:

  • two short videos and factsheets aimed at assisting small business owners to understand who is an officer in their business and what their duties are under the model WHS laws
  • a new guide, The health and safety duty of an officer, which revised and replaced the existing Interpretative Guidelines—model Work Health and Safety Act—the health and safety duty of an officer under section 27, and
  • improvements to the accessibility of information, including developing a new officer duty webpage to consolidate this guidance.

Guidance on supporting workers with endometriosis in the workplace

Safe Work Australia published a fact sheet Supporting workers with endometriosis in the workplace (the fact sheet) as part of the priority set out in the 2018 National Action Plan on Endometriosis (the National Action Plan) to improve awareness and education of endometriosis in a professional setting.

Workers with endometriosis can experience a range of challenges in the workplace that can affect their capacity to work safely, including fatigue and increased stress when managing symptoms.

The primary duty in the model WHS Act requires a person conducting a business or undertaking to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers while they are at work in the business or undertaking. Workers have a duty to take reasonable care of their health and safety and not adversely affect others’ health and safety. The fact sheet outlines a range of strategies persons conducting a business or undertaking and workers can adopt to meet their WHS duties by better managing the condition in the workplace. These strategies include flexible working hours, access to sick leave or other changes to working arrangements.

The fact sheet has attracted a high level of interest and has also been picked up by Endometriosis Australia.

Guidance on storage of hazardous chemicals

Safe Work Australia published a guide on managing risks of storing chemicals in the workplace. The guide is tailored towards small to medium businesses, and provides plain English guidance on some of the common health and safety risks of storing chemicals and shows ways to manage those risks.

The guide includes a handy storage checklist that sets out the standard precautions businesses should take and a detailed chart that shows which types of chemicals to separate and by how far.

The guide was very well received by small to medium business, who have been asking for simple, easy-to-follow guidance in this to help them manage risks arising from storage of chemicals.

Evidence activities

Function

  • Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Cth) – Item 4

Contributing to

  • Corporate plan—strategy 3
  • Operational plan—activities 4 & 6

Highlights

  • We responded to around 500 requests for statistical information.
  • We published five major statistical reports.
  • We published the findings of the 2018 National Return to Work Survey and provided evidence to inform the development of the National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030.
  • We undertook research in a number of priority areas including musculoskeletal disorders.

Stakeholders

  • Safe Work Australia Members
  • Evidence Reference Group
  • Government
  • Researchers
  • Academics
  • Universities and educational institutions
  • WHS regulators
  • Workers’ compensation authorities
  • Research institutions
  • Journalists

‘We play a vital role in building, maintaining and promoting a national evidence base.’

Safe Work Australia’s Evidence sections play a vital role in building, maintaining and promoting the evidence base around WHS and workers’ compensation policy and practice in Australia. We are responsible for data and research that supports the agency’s important national role of achieving significant and continual reductions in the incidence of work-related death, injury and illness and improving outcomes for injured workers and their employers.

We are the custodians of key national WHS and workers’ compensation data which provides important information on work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities. We compile, analyse and report this data, to support a nationally‑coordinated and cooperative approach to WHS and workers’ compensation policy and practice.

2018–19

In 2018–19, we delivered a range of evidence-based products and research, publishing five major statistical reports and responding to around 500 requests for tailored evidence and data from journalists, governments, academics and the public. Interest in our data continues to grow: our most popular publication, Key work health and safety statistics, Australia 2018, received over 33,000 page views in 2018–19 (almost double that of 2017–18).

We provided evidence and advice to support several reviews, projects and inquiries, including the 2018 Review of the model WHS laws and the Senate Inquiry into the framework surrounding the prevention, investigation and prosecution of industrial deaths in Australia.

We administered the 2018 National Return to Work Survey and contributed to the development of the National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030. We supported COMPARE, a national research project on return to work policy.

We conducted a range of other research activities to improve the national evidence base on key WHS and workers’ compensation issues, with a focus on the priority industries and disorders in the Australian Strategy, including work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Our research

Australian Research Council linkage grant: working longer, staying healthy

In 2018–19, Safe Work Australia continued as a partner organisation on this project. This project comprises five diverse sub-studies aimed at providing evidence to design policy and workplace interventions to accommodate and support older workers. The agency provides in-kind support, including participation on relevant project reference groups.

Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research held its official launch at Parliament House on 31 October 2018. With an additional seven years’ funding from the Australian Research Council, the Centre will examine the challenges in creating good work for older workers, and seek to identify the kinds of work that preserve physical and mental capacity among older workers.

Safe Work Australia is a partner organisation of the Centre and is providing in-kind support for the first three years, including participation on relevant stakeholder reference groups. The Safe Work Australia CEO, Ms Michelle Baxter, is a member of the Centre’s Advisory Board.

BeUpstanding: Champion Toolkit

In recent years, Safe Work Australia contributed to the development of the University of Queensland’s BeUpstanding Champion Toolkit. This world-first multimedia resource aims to reduce sitting time at work by providing best practice guidance.

In 2017–18, the University of Queensland received additional funding from a National Health and Medical Research Council Partnership Project grant to conduct a national implementation trial of the toolkit. Safe Work Australia is one of several policy and practice partner organisations, and contributes funding and in-kind support to this three-year project.

National Return to Work Survey

In 2018–19, Safe Work Australia published the findings of the 2018 National Return to Work Survey, undertaken by the Social Research Centre. The survey examined key factors affecting return to work rates and has been conducted biennially since 2014.

Our datasets and reports

Safe Work Australia plays a key role in developing evidence-informed policy through the compilation and analysis of four national data collections:

  • the National Dataset for Compensation-based Statistics (NDS)
  • the Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities (TIF) collection
  • the Comparative Performance Monitoring (CPM) program, and
  • the Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR).

The collections draw on 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 four main data collections, we access other relevant data sources to supplement 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 (AIHW) and survey-based data on work-related injuries from the ABS.

National Dataset for Compensation-based Statistics

For over 30 years, the NDS has provided uniform and nationally comparable indicators of WHS performance and experience. The NDS provides an unparalleled time series of information on work-related injuries and diseases 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 dataset. In 2018–19, the latest available NDS data was for claims lodged in 2016–17.

In 2018–19, we published the Australian workers’ compensation statistics 2016–17 report. This annual report summarises statistics from the NDS for non-fatal workers’ compensation claims by key employment and demographic characteristics. The report continues to show a significant decrease in the incidence rate of serious claims over the past decade: from 13.4 claims per 1,000 employees in 2007–08 to 9.3 claims per 1,000 employees in 2016–17.

Fatality data collections

We compile the TIF dataset, the most comprehensive and accurate source of work-related traumatic injury fatalities data in Australia.

The TIF contains information about all work-related injury fatalities that occur in Australia, drawing from a range of sources including:

  • notified fatalities from WHS jurisdictional authorities
  • 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.

In 2018–19, we published the Work-related traumatic injury fatalities, Australia 2017 report, which 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 and showed that the fatality rate of workers has decreased by 48 per cent, from a peak of 3.0 per 100,000 workers in 2007 to 1.5 in 2017.

We also compile data on fatalities associated with the use of quad bikes, which is published on the QuadWatch page on the Safe Work Australia website. This is because every year quad bikes are a major cause of death and serious injury in rural workplaces with many incidents associated with rollovers. In 2018 there were 11 quad bike fatalities, 45 per cent of which were work-related.

Comparative performance monitoring

In 2018–19 we published the Comparative Performance Monitoring report (20th edition) Parts 1–3, which contains the latest NDS data and reports on jurisdictional performance against agreed indicators. The report provides trend analysis on WHS and workers’ compensation schemes operating in Australia and New Zealand and discusses the way that each scheme deals with key aspects such as coverage, benefits, self-insurance, common law and dispute resolution.

We also released the Comparison of workers’ compensation arrangements in Australia and New Zealand (2018) to complement the CPM report. Like the CPM, the report provides information about workers’ compensation arrangements and the differences between schemes in Australia and New Zealand.

Australian Mesothelioma Registry

The agency funds the AMR, a stand-alone database that contains information about people with mesothelioma, compiled by the AIHW. The AMR includes all new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed from 1 July 2010 in Australia, as well as information about asbestos exposure collected through a questionnaire and interview.

The AIHW draws on the AMR to produce an annual report on the incidence of mesothelioma in Australia, which is published on the AIHW website. The 2018 report indicates that on average more than 700 Australians are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. The AMR is a key source of data and information that allows policy makers to better understand trends in mesothelioma diagnosis, and the links with asbestos exposure.

Other reports

In addition to the major statistical reports listed above, in 2018–19 we also published the Key work health and safety statistics, Australia 2018. This was our most popular evidence product of 2018–19, with over 33,000 views and downloads. The report provides a high-level overview of the latest new national work-related injury, disease and fatality statistics from the TIF and NDS datasets.

Statistical enquiries service

Another way we make our data accessible is through our statistical enquiries service. In 2018–19, we responded to around 500 statistical enquiries from a range of stakeholders, including governments, journalists, academics and the general public. The majority of the requests required a bespoke response, and contributed to government policy work, media publications and research.

Outlook for 2019–20

Over the next 12 months we will continue to work with our stakeholders to lead and undertake national research and analysis on WHS and workers’ compensation, and deliver our core data functions. This includes aligning our work to the Australian Strategy and the National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030, and conducting research and analysis to address priority industries and disorders, emerging issues and priority groups.

We will continue to improve our existing datasets and build new ones. We are starting work to increase the data we capture in the fatalities database, and build a new National Work Health and Safety Prosecutions Database. This new database will give policy makers access to aggregated, detailed information on WHS prosecutions and resulting penalties. It will also enable more detailed research, analysis and reporting on prosecutions. We will also continue to explore opportunities to make improvements to the National Return to Work Survey.

In 2019–20, we will also lead a major international project aimed at building a better international evidence base in WHS, by sharing expertise across G20 member countries on WHS data and research, and improving the comparability of international data. This is an exciting opportunity to compare our data and research with other countries, and to share international best practice.

Work health and safety statistics

Infographic summary of WHS statistics.   Traumatic injury fatalities for 2018: 145 workers, 1.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers, 52% reduction in rate of fatalities since 2009   Highest fatality industries in 2018: o Transport, postal and warehousing – 38 fatalities, 5.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers, 46% reduction in rate since 2009 o Agriculture, forestry and fishing – 37 fatalities, 11.2 fatalities per 100,000 workers, 37% reduction in rate since 2009 o Construction – 25 fatalities, 2.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers, 42% reduction in rate since 2009   Serious claims in 2017–18*: 107,335 serious claims, 9.1 serious claims per 1,000 employees   Change in serious claims between 2007–08 and 2016–17: 18% reduction in number of serious claims, 31% reduction in the rate of serious claims per 1,000 employees   All priority industries under the Australian Strategy have witnessed reductions in the rate of serious claims per 1,000 employees between 2006–07 and 2016–17: o Transport, postal and warehousing: 37% reduction o Manufacturing: 34% reduction o Public administration and safety: 22% reduction o Health care and social assistance: 32% reduction o Accommodation and food services: 32% reduction o Agriculture, forestry and fishing: 23% reduction o Construction: 23% reduction   Total economic cost of work-related injury and disease: estimated to be $61.8 billion (4.1% of GDP) for the 2012–13 reference year *preliminary data subject to revision in subsequent years as further claims are finalised.

Occupational hygiene

Function

  • Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Cth) – Item 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7

Contributing to

  • Corporate plan—strategies 1, 2 & 3
  • Operational plan—activities 2 & 3

Highlights

  • We released a RIS for the workplace exposure standards framework, for public comment.
  • Facilitating a panel discussion on workplace cancers at the AIOH Annual Conference and Exhibition, Melbourne.
  • Development and commencement of the occupational lung disease work plan.
  • We released draft evaluation reports for workplace exposure standards for respirable crystalline silica and respirable coal dust.

Stakeholders

  • Safe Work Australia Members
  • WHS regulators
  • Natural resources, mines and energy regulators
  • All levels of government
  • Academics, universities and research institutions
  • Community organisations
  • Educational institutes
  • Employer associations
  • WHS professionals, occupational hygienists and allied professionals
  • Unions
  • Workers’ compensation authorities
  • Journalists
  • Industry and business associations

‘We develop and maintain evidence-based policy that protects workers from exposures that may cause harm’

Workplace exposure standards

Under the model WHS laws, a duty holder must ensure that workers are not exposed to airborne hazardous chemicals above the concentration listed in the workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants. Australia’s workplace exposure standards currently include over 600 hazardous chemicals.

We developed a methodology, published on the Safe Work Australia website in June 2018, to undertake a health-based review of the workplace exposure standards including:

  • sourcing exposure standard information
  • evaluating individual workplace exposure standards and advisory notations, and
  • revising the list of chemicals to better reflect Australian workplaces.

The aim of the health-based review is to make sure the concentrations of the hazardous chemicals listed are supported by the highest quality, most contemporary evidence and supported by a rigorous, scientific approach.

Reviews of respirable coal dust and respirable crystalline silica were conducted as a priority. We received substantial stakeholder feedback following the public release of the draft evaluation reports and recommendations. The other hazardous chemicals will undergo the same process throughout the remainder of 2019 and into 2020.

The health-based review is supported by an investigation into the workplace exposure standards framework as it currently exists under the model WHS laws. We released a business survey and a consultation RIS to collect data on:

  • how workplace exposure standards are used
  • what compliance looks like
  • how much compliance with the workplace exposure standards costs, and
  • what actions small, medium and large businesses might take if the workplace exposure standards changed.

We received very detailed information from business and interested stakeholders that will inform a decision RIS to be released in late 2019.

Occupational lung disease

Occupational lung diseases are conditions of the respiratory system that have occupational exposure as a risk factor for developing the disease. They are a priority condition under the Australian Strategy.

We have implemented an occupational lung diseases work plan that will:

  • raise awareness of the duties and control measures for preventing and managing exposure to dusts that can cause occupational lung disease, and
  • develop a solid evidence base to inform future national policy decisions.

The key activities of the work plan will improve our visibility of national issues surrounding occupational lung diseases, including identifying:

  • high-risk industries, products and tasks
  • workers at greatest risk of exposure, and
  • emerging trends.

We will provide practical information and strategies that can be used at the workplace to reduce the risk of occupational lung diseases. Specifically, the key activities of the work plan include:

  • developing national guidance for working with silica and silica-containing products that will:
    • improve the awareness of duties of a person conducting a business or undertaking
    • convey practical information on how to protect the health and safety of workers who work with, and in the vicinity of, silica dust, and
    • communicate in languages other than English to ensure we reach our target audience
  • developing and supporting education and awareness activities, with a focus on micro and small to medium business to improve compliance with the WHS laws and improve the health and safety of workers
  • undertaking a literature review investigating the advances in airborne dust control technologies and work processes:
    • using this information we will provide practical and targeted advice on the most effective ways to protect workers from airborne dusts
  • conducting further research on the status of occupational lung diseases in Australia to provide a present-day view and estimate the incidence of occupational lung disease, and
  • investigating, collecting and analysing data held by WHS regulators and relevant government agencies that will:
    • support national policy interventions
    • increase our visibility of national issues, and
    • identify emerging trends.

Implementation of the work plan will continue throughout 2019 and 2020.

Feature story: 2018 Scholars of Worker Protection award – AIOH Conference

Left to right: Dr Lisa Mills, Melinda Gardner and Ellary Broun, winners of the inaugural Scholars of Worker Protection award.
Left to right: Dr Lisa Mills, Melinda Gardner and Ellary Broun, winners of the inaugural Scholars of Worker Protection award

As a sponsor of the inaugural Scholars of Worker Protection award, we presented three winners at the 2018 Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) Annual Conference Gala Dinner in Melbourne.

The high-achieving recipients, Dr Lisa Mills, Melinda Gardner and Ellary Broun relished the opportunity to build upon their professional experience and current postgraduate study through attending the AIOH conference.

With a PhD from Deakin University, Dr Lisa Mills was completing her final year of Masters of Occupational Hygiene and Toxicology at Edith Cowan University. Dr Mills is currently the Environmental Manager at GeelongPort, the second largest port in Victoria.

A full-time student, Melinda Gardner is in her final year of studying a Masters of Occupational Hygiene and Toxicology at Edith Cowan University. Once completed Ms Gardner hopes to undertake a PhD in the field of worker safety.

Ellary Broun is the Occupational Hygiene Technician at Alcoa Australia in WA. Ms Broun commences a Masters in Health and Safety majoring in Occupational Hygiene at RMIT this year, with a long-term goal of becoming a certified Occupational Hygienist with the AIOH.

The Scholars of Worker Protection award assists current or future AIOH members in their professional development by widening their experience and knowledge of occupational hygiene issues through attending the AIOH conference. The scholars conveyed appreciation of the valuable opportunity to learn from esteemed experts in the field and expand their professional networks.

Jackii Shepherd, Director, Occupational Hygiene Policy, presenting the award.
Pictured: Jackii Shepherd, Director, Occupational Hygiene Policy, presenting the award.

Workers’ compensation activities

Function

  • Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Cth) – Items 1, 3, 6 & 7

Contributing to

  • Corporate plan – strategies 3 & 5
  • Operational plan – activities 4 & 5

Highlights

  • The National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030 was developed through targeted research and consultation with key stakeholders.
  • The National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030 was endorsed by Safe Work Australia Members.
  • 2018 National Return to Work Survey headline measure and summary reports were released.
  • We co-funded phase 1 of Monash University’s COMPARE study project examining the impact of workers’ compensation scheme policies on return to work outcomes.
  • A series of comprehensive reviews were undertaken to improve the national training package for permanent impairment assessors.

Stakeholders

  • Safe Work Australia Members
  • SIG-Workers’ Compensation
  • Workers’ compensation authorities
  • Employers, union and industry groups
  • Injured workers
  • National Permanent Impairment Coordinating Committee
  • Insurers and claims management organisations
  • Government
  • Researchers
  • Universities
  • Medical and allied health practitioners, associations and peak bodies
  • Mental health organisations

‘We want to build evidence and drive national action to promote consistent workers’ compensation arrangements and support positive return to work outcomes.’

We continue to work closely with stakeholders to identify national policy opportunities that raise awareness and promote best practice in workers’ compensation and return to work. In 2018–19, Safe Work Australia demonstrated its important role in improving outcomes for injured workers and their employers with the development of the National Return to Work Strategy 20202030. Other major projects included the redesign and rollout of the 2018 National Return to Work Survey, and a comprehensive update of modules in the national training package for permanent impairment assessors.

National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030

After more than a year of evidence building and consultation, Safe Work Australia Members endorsed the National Return to Work Strategy 20202030 in April 2019.

The Strategy sets out a ten-year plan for national action to improve return to work outcomes for workers with a work-related injury or illness.

The Strategy is built on a shared desire to make a difference, and was developed in collaboration with the Commonwealth, states and territories, and employer, industry and union groups. Consultation with the insurance, health, legal and academic sectors was valuable in shaping the priorities for the Strategy.

Read the feature story about the Strategy in Feature story: National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030.

National Return to Work Survey

In October 2018, we released the headline measure and summary reports of the 2018 National Return to Work Survey. The survey is a major source of information on the experiences of people injured at work, and provides important insights into how different compensation scheme policies can impact return to work outcomes.

The survey outcomes inform a range of policy work across Safe Work Australia.

We also continue to explore opportunities for deeper analysis of the survey data, and review and refine the survey questionnaire and methodology to improve our understanding of return to work outcomes.

Compensation Policy and Return to Work Effectiveness project

The Insurance Work and Health Group of Monash University completed the first phase of the Compensation Policy and Return to Work Effectiveness (COMPARE) project, which ran from 2015 to 2018. Safe Work Australia and WorkSafe Victoria jointly funded the first phase, which delivered a suite of reports that were instrumental in shaping the National Return to Work Strategy 20202030.

The objective of the project is to determine how workers’ compensation scheme policies impact return to work outcomes. The project’s findings contribute to the evidence base that guides development of national workers’ compensation and return to work policy.

The project also involves deeper analysis of two Safe Work Australia datasets: the NDS and the National Return to Work Survey.

Safe Work Australia continues to support the project, now in its second phase.

Assessment of permanent impairment

The National Permanent Impairment Coordinating Committee continues to oversee the national approach to permanent impairment assessment and training.

In 2018–19, we worked with the Committee to make improvements to the orthopaedic and nervous system modules in the national training package. A targeted review of the psychiatric and psychological disorders training module was also undertaken.

The reviews ensure that the national training package continues to support a consistent approach to training permanent impairment assessors using the template National guidelines for the evaluation of permanent impairment.

Outlook for 2019–20

A key focus for 2019–20 is the launch and promotion of the National Return to Work Strategy 20202030.

We will also:

  • develop a five-year implementation plan to support Safe Work Australia Members to implement national actions under the Strategy, and a measurement framework to track progress against the Strategy’s outcomes
  • conduct deeper analysis of the 2018 National Return to Work Survey results
  • review and refine the 2018 National Return to Work Survey questionnaire and methodology as we prepare for the 2020 survey
  • continue our involvement in the COMPARE project
  • continue to ensure the efficient and effective management of the national approach to permanent impairment assessment.

Feature story: National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030

National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030 logo

In 2017–18, we established a project to develop a national return to work strategy. With more than half a million Australians sustaining a work-related injury or illness each year, Safe Work Australia Members were determined to identify common challenges and opportunities across Australia to improve return to work outcomes.

The development of the Strategy was an iterative and collaborative process involving the Commonwealth, states and territories, employer, industry and union groups and academics. Targeted research and a range of consultation activities were instrumental in identifying national issues that are critical to improving return to work outcomes, and designing national approaches to address them.

In April 2019, Safe Work Australia Members endorsed the National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030. The Strategy has now been endorsed by all WHS ministers.

Workers are at the heart of the Strategy’s vision to minimise the impact of work-related injury or illness, and enable a timely, safe and durable return to work. The Strategy aims to better support workers in their recovery and return to work journey.

Strategic outcomes outline the expected change over the life of the Strategy, centre on the worker and recognise the important relationship between workers and their employers. Guiding principles characterise a positive return to work outcome for workers, and cut across the practice of all stakeholders. Five action areas represent the opportunities for change at a national level and are designed to work in tandem to apply the guiding principles.

The Strategy provides a framework to pull together current activity at the national and jurisdictional levels and to guide future work. It will shape Safe Work Australia’s workers’ compensation policy agenda for the next decade with a rolling evidence-building program ensuring national action is responsive to current and emerging issues.

A priority for 2019 is the development of a measurement framework to track progress against the strategic outcomes throughout the life of the Strategy. An implementation plan is also being developed to provide a high-level roadmap of national action for the first five years of the Strategy, culminating in a mid-term review in 2025.

Safe Work Australia Members look forward to promoting and implementing this significant national policy initiative following its launch later this year.

Front cover of the National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030

International activities

Function

  • Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Cth) – Item 6

Contributing to

  • Corporate plan—strategy 6
  • Operational plan—activity 6

Highlights

  • The work plan developed for the G20 Occupational Safety and Health Expert Network is to be adopted at the September 2019 meeting in China.
  • CEO, Michelle Baxter delivering the keynote speech about the future of work from an Australian perspective at the Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference in 2018.

Stakeholders

  • Safe Work Australia Members
  • World Congress on Safety and Health at Work
  • International Labour Organization
  • G20 Occupational Safety and Health Expert Network
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Asia–Pacific Economic Co-operation
  • Cochrane Work Review Group
  • International Commission on Occupational Health

‘We collaborate with international bodies to share research and knowledge and to study international achievements potentially of benefit to Australia.’

Our work this year

Our international profile

This year we worked with our international counterparts to collaborate and share information and knowledge of WHS and workers’ compensation.

Our staff represent Safe Work Australia internationally and this year we participated in engagements to raise our profile and to contribute to best-practice WHS and workers’ compensation policy.

The agency works closely with the Attorney-General’s Department to ensure Australia’s WHS and workers’ compensation matters are reported for the purpose of meeting Australia’s international obligations under International Labour Organization Conventions.

G20 Occupational Safety and Health Expert Network

The G20 Occupational Safety and Health Expert Network contributes to improving communication, coordination and information sharing between G20 countries. The Network facilitates greater communication among country experts, representatives of international organisations, businesses and workers.

Our CEO, Michelle Baxter represents Australia as part of this global network and in August 2018 she met with our international counterparts to create the network work plan. The work plan is to be adopted at the September 2019 meeting in China and includes topics such as the future of work and the challenges and opportunities that come with the rise of globalisation.

Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference 2018

Our CEO, Michelle Baxter represented the agency at the Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference in August 2018. The theme was Transforming for the Future: Healthy Workforce, Safe Workplaces. Ms Baxter’s presentation provided the Australian perspective on WHS, which is unique due to the number of jurisdictions and independent systems of government in a large, diverse country. She also discussed the six megatrends that the agency collaborated on with the CSIRO to produce the Workplace safety futures report—looking at emerging trends in WHS and workers’ compensation over the next 20 years. These include: automated systems and robotics (megatrend 1); screen time, sedentary behaviour and chronic illness (megatrend 2); remote working (megatrend 3); the gig economy (megatrend 4); the ageing workforce (megatrend 5); and an increase in workplace stress and mental health issues (megatrend 6). Finally she looked at the future of work in Australia, including challenges and opportunities.

The United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals

Our agency leads the GHS implementation in Australia and is working to move to GHS 7, which will align us with our international counterparts. We head the Australian delegation on the UNSCEGHS and we present the agreed Australian Government position on chemicals issues in Australia.

The sub-committee meets twice annually to revise and update the GHS to reflect national, regional and international experiences in implementing its requirements into laws.

In 2018–19, Dr Paul Taylor, Director, Chemicals Policy, attended the 35th and 36th sessions of the sub-committee, in his role as Head of Australian Delegation. At the 35th session in July 2018, Australia introduced a paper providing an update on implementation of the GHS in Australia, which also requested information from other economies on future GHS implementation plans, and sought to bring a focus on co-ordinating implementations of the GHS globally. At the 36th session, the sub-committee agreed a joint proposal from Australia and the USA to amend the GHS text to clarify the role of the GHS in risk management of chemicals. At the 36th session amendments to the GHS text including new classification criteria for chemicals under pressure in Chapter 2.3 and revisions to Chapter 3.2 on skin corrosion/irritation to take account of developments in non-animal test methods for inclusion in the 8th revised edition of the GHS, due to be published in July 2019.

At the conclusion of the 36th Session of the sub-committee, the UNSCETDG and the UNSCEGHS met to agree to programs of work for both the TDG and GHS sub-committees and to elect officers for the upcoming biennium. Dr Taylor was elected Vice-Chair of the UNSCEGHS replacing Mr Robin Foster (United Kingdom) who was vacating the position due to his retirement.

Visiting International delegations—New Zealand and Taiwan

Working with our stakeholders includes hosting international delegations to collaborate and share knowledge. Our agency welcomes the interest in international jurisdictions learning about WHS and workers’ compensation from an Australian perspective.

In November 2018, Safe Work Australia welcomed a delegation from Taiwan, including the Minister of Civil Service Protection and Training Commission and senior officials to discuss WHS policy for public servants.

The discussion was around helping to shape WHS protections for civil servants in Taiwan, information on the agency’s guide to psychological health and safety in the workplace and the model Codes of Practice—including information on how to manage WHS risks.

In May 2019, Safe Work Australia welcomed a delegation of officials from the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Work Safe New Zealand to discuss Australia’s model WHS laws.

In a wide-ranging discussion Australian and New Zealand officials covered several topics including hazardous chemicals, high-risk plant, psychosocial risks in the work place and the recent review of Australia’s model WHS laws.

Education and communication activities

Function

  • Safe Work Australia Act 2008 (Cth) – Items 5 & 6

Contributing to

  • Corporate plan – strategies 2 & 6
  • Operational plan – activities 3 & 6

Highlights

  • There were over 40,000 views and downloads of 2018 National Safe Work Month campaign materials.
  • A total of 75 high-quality entries were received for the National Safe Work Month competition.
  • A total of 315 registered participants (unique users who registered on Engage) voted for the 2018 National Safe Work Month People’s Choice Award.

Stakeholders

  • Safe Work Australia Members
  • Communications Reference Group
  • WHS regulators
  • International Labour Organization
  • Journalists
  • Media organisations
  • Academics
  • Researchers
  • Small business
  • WHS leaders
  • WHS professionals
  • Employers
  • Workers
  • Industry associations

‘Engaging with the community is essential to improve and raise awareness about WHS and workers’ compensation in Australia’

During 2018–19 we delivered a variety of national communication and engagement activities to educate and raise community awareness.

We maintained our focus on developing informative and engaging material for use across the multiple communication channels we manage, including for online, press, video, speeches and social media.

In September 2018 we launched our new Media Centre, a designated area on the Safe Work Australia website developed to enhance, separate and distinguish our multimedia content. It is also a place to house and promote national campaigns, including National Safe Work Month.

To ensure we continue to offer tailored communication with a focus on our audiences, in early 2019 we undertook a usability review of our main communication channel, the Safe Work Australia website. This review consisted of both business research with Safe Work Australia staff and comparative usability testing with users of the Safe Work Australia website.

Our website received over 8 million page views, an increase of 21 per cent from last financial year. While managing multiple communication and engagement activities we promoted World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day, and also delivered four national campaigns, including:

  • National Safe Work Month
  • National Farm Safety Week
  • National Tradies Health Month, and
  • Asbestos Awareness Month.

2018 National Safe Work Month

The National Safe Work Month campaign has been delivered annually in October since 2009 and is one of Safe Work Australia’s high-profile engagement and communication tactics to mobilise organisations, communities and individuals to get behind health and safety and promote it at work.

The campaign is developed in consultation with the Safe Work Australia CRG and supports jurisdictional initiatives. National Safe Work Month aims to improve the wider community’s awareness and knowledge of WHS and workers’ compensation by providing access to a range of resources, provoking discussion and showcasing good WHS practice. The campaign encourages publics (one of Safe Work Australia’s key target audiences) to organise or participate in activities which promote WHS during October.

Overall, the 2018 campaign met and in some cases exceeded its objective to improve awareness and knowledge of WHS and increase engagement in National Safe Work Month activities. This demonstrates a steady increase in audience awareness and knowledge compared to previous years.

Some noteworthy statistics include:

  • 30 per cent increase from 2017 in page views on the National Safe Work Month website, representing a fourfold increase since 2015
  • 35 per cent increase from 2017 in referrals to the National Safe Work Month website from social media channels, and
  • 58 per cent of evaluation survey respondents said they now know more about WHS after participating in National Safe Work Month.

The National Safe Work Month website and subscriber mail-outs remain the two most effective methods of directly reaching Safe Work Australia’s audiences. The campaign kit continues to generate high levels of interest and is key to the success of the campaign.

2019 World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day

We recognise World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28 each year. The day raises awareness about the importance of WHS and honours those who have died from work-related injury or illness. This year, we promoted a safe and healthy future of work.

As digital technologies and automation become more common, employment and workplaces are changing. It’s important that—with an ageing workforce and rising levels of stress—we plan our future workplaces to ensure we make them safe and healthy and reduce the risk of workplace injury.

Our campaign shared a number of resources from various regulators and the International Labour Organization, encouraging audiences to promote World Day in their workplace, attend local Workers’ Memorial Day events and share our social media content. To complement the campaign, we featured the keynote speech delivered by Michelle Baxter about the future of work from an Australian perspective at the Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference in 2018.

Although there were no paid campaign tactics, the communication results were positive. While web page views decreased by over 50 per cent, people spent longer viewing the content on the page which indicates strong engagement with the content. The number of social media posts reduced in 2019 and there were no paid promoted posts. Given this, the reach was still positive along with the click-throughs and interactions. Only one subscriber mail-out was sent compared to two last year and it yielded a high number of clicked links through to the web content. These statistics will be considered for the 2020 approach to World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day.

Virtual Seminar Series

The Virtual Seminar Series is in its fifth year of operation and continues to be a popular channel to showcase the latest thinking, research, developments and best practice in WHS.

The purpose of the Virtual Seminar Series is to share ideas, experiences, skills and knowledge relating to the action areas and priority industries identified in the Australian Strategy. The seminars are designed to educate those who influence good WHS practice, demonstrate best practice, present robust evidence, data and research, and showcase innovation. The seminars take the form of live panel discussions, videos, webinars, podcasts, reports and infographics, and feature business leaders, academics, employer associations’ WHS regulators and experts.

The Virtual Seminar Series became so popular with our stakeholders that in October 2016 we moved from broadcasting during the month of October to a year-round schedule.

During 2018–19, we broadcast a total of 10 seminars, including:

Community engagement

We implemented an  online engagement system, Engage, in April 2017. We use Engage to dynamically facilitate both public and closed consultations on WHS and workers’ compensation matters. Featuring a sophisticated array of easy-to-use engagement methods, the platform enables us to capture community-driven ideas, insights and evidence which we use to inform the development and implementation of WHS and workers’ compensation policies, guidance material, codes of practice and legislation.

During 2018–19 our Engage platform received over 23,000 site visits, more than double the visits in the previous year. We had over 800 new registrations during the year, taking the total to 2,228 registered participants. We held nine new consultations both public and private, including the workplace exposure standards review and the People’s Choice Award Winner for 2018 National Safe Work Month.

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.

A highlight of our sponsorship program this year was the National Safe Work Month competition. We offered individuals and workplaces across Australia the opportunity to bid for funding of up to $20,000 for their WHS project. Participants with the best projects went into the running to win the People’s Choice Award and an additional $5,000 as decided by public vote.

The winner was Coffey Services Australia Ltd—details are presented in Feature story: 2018 National Safe Work Month competition winners.

Media and stakeholder engagement

Through a combination of media releases, paid media placement and subscriber mail-outs, our 2018 National Safe Work Month campaign received excellent national coverage, achieving a total of 149 media reports. Coverage was broad and reached an influential and engaged audience directly interested in WHS as well as national general media.

Safe Work Australia experts and Safe Work Australia’s Chair Diane Smith-Gander AO also featured in media interviews, including an interview with Safety Culture about National Safe Work Month, and we provided written editorial for AusIMM Bulletin, Electrical Gems and Lifting Matters magazines. We also provided input for an array of trade and industry publications and magazines, television programs and radio programs regarding the 2018 Review of the model WHS laws, national WHS and workers’ compensation data, and WHS issues specific to the agriculture industry, first responders, chemicals and heat-related injury and illness.

During 2018–19 we received and responded to 184 media enquiries.

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 extended the reach of our communication and engagement activities.

Some of the communications from 2018–19 included:

  • A tweet promoting Tradies Health Month: ‘August is #TradiesHealthMonth – we’re reminding tradies to protect themselves and their workers, their business’ greatest assets’. This reached over 48,000 people.
    Image of a tweet promoting Tradies Health Month: ‘August is #TradiesHealthMonth – we’re reminding tradies to protect themselves and their workers, their business’ greatest assets’. This reached over 48,000 people.
  • Facebook posts over the summer months about working in heat had great engagement. A video post encouraging workers to raise concerns over working in heat had a reach of over 9,000 people.
    Image of Facebook posts over the summer months about working in heat had great engagement. A video post encouraging workers to raise concerns over working in heat had a reach of over 9,000 people.
  • A post on LinkedIn: ‘Some of the top causes of serious work-related psychological injury are unreasonable deadlines, interpersonal conflict, harassment or bullying, exposure to violence, and poorly managed organisational change’. This had excellent levels of engagement, with 55 per cent of those who saw the post engaged in the content.
    Image of a post on LinkedIn: ‘Some of the top causes of serious work-related psychological injury are unreasonable deadlines, interpersonal conflict, harassment or bullying, exposure to violence, and poorly managed organisational change’. This had excellent levels of engagement, with 55 per cent of those who saw the post engaged in the content.

Outlook for 2019–20

Our focus for the upcoming year will remain to provide tailored, accurate information to our audiences in channels that are easy for them to access. Our flagship channel, the Safe Work Australia website, has been reviewed for usability and functionality. We will endeavour to take on board all of the recommendations put forward by our audiences to continue our approach of ongoing improvements to provide the best possible user experience.

The Virtual Seminar Series will continue regular broadcasting and feature the latest information on such topics as workplace exposure standards, quad bikes, injury prevention, psychological injury and return to work.

Our use of animation to bring national WHS and workers’ compensation data and statistics to life has been embraced by our audiences as demonstrated with our promotion of Key work health and safety statistics, Australia 2018 with over 33,000 unique web page views across the relevant web pages and over 15,000 people reached across our social media channels.

We will continue to conduct stakeholder consultations on our online consultation platform Engage, including the Consultation RIS on the 2018 Review of the model WHS laws and public consultation for the workplace exposure standards review.

Naturally our highlight will be National Safe Work Month held in October to raise awareness about the importance of building a safe and healthy workplace.

Feature story: 2018 National Safe Work Month competition winners

National Safe Work Month Logo and Trophy iconIn 2018, the theme for National Safe Work Month was ’a moment is all it takes’ which recognised that a safety incident could happen in a moment in any workplace. The campaign asked workers and employers to make it a habit to add safety moments to their day, every day.

The campaign included a variety of communication tactics including press and media promotion, social media promotion, a website, campaign kit and materials and a sponsorship competition.

The 2018 competition offered individuals and workplaces across Australia an opportunity to bid for funding of up to $20,000 for a WHS project. The winning entries then went into the running to win the Peoples’ Choice Award, which added another $5,000 to the possible funding.

Five entrants received funding as part of their winning entries:

We received 315 total votes for the People’s Choice Award with Coffey Services Australia Ltd securing a further $5,000 for getting the most votes of the five finalists.

Coffey Services provide engineering, geotechnical, environmental, testing and project management services. Many workers at Coffey perform manual hand augering, which does pose a risk of injury due to turning, lifting and carrying the auger. Coffey will use their prize to investigate and identify design improvements for hand augers to reduce their risk of injury.

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