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Appendix F: Work health and safety

DVA implements and maintains effective work health and safety (WHS) strategies and systems that promote continuous WHS improvement and a positive safety culture. Managing and promoting safety at work was a major focus in 2016–17.

DVA is committed to effective, open communication and works collaboratively—through WHS committees and staff advisory groups—to promote the health and wellbeing of employees, recognising that health and wellbeing initiatives assist in increasing morale, resilience and productivity.

The National Work Health and Safety Committee was established to ensure effective consultation between managers and staff in relation to health and safety. It meets on a quarterly basis and is supported by a network of state-based committees that also meet quarterly.

DVA's Executive demonstrates commitment to health, safety and wellbeing by:

  • participating in health and safety committees
  • resourcing preventive health, wellbeing and early intervention programs
  • supporting strong networks of first aid officers, harassment contact officers, health and safety representatives and emergency wardens, and a range of consultative and reporting processes for raising health and safety concerns
  • providing education, resources and support—including mandatory WHS training for new employees—to managers and staff
  • ensuring that regular workplace hazard inspections are conducted jointly by managers and trained workplace health and safety representatives
  • overseeing audit and assurance activities in rehabilitation case management and WHS.

Initiatives

DVA provided a range of services and activities to promote health, safety and wellbeing in 2016–17, including:

  • training in Building Resilience; Transition to Retirement; Mental Health First Aid; Strengthened for Life; Accidental Counselling; Managing Sensitive Conversations; and Managing Unreasonable Complainants
  • sessions on back care and the management of injuries in the workplace
  • a network of human resource practitioners, across the Department, that supported the implementation of WHS policies and programs
  • early intervention and rehabilitation management systems that assisted employees to stay at work by providing appropriate medical support for work related and non-work related illness and injury
  • an employee assistance program that provided access to free and confidential counselling to support the psychological wellbeing of employees and their families
  • the online Work/Life Links service, which provided free confidential information and assistance for employees and their immediate families on a range of childcare, aged care, health and support services
  • annual flu vaccinations, eyesight and hearing tests, subsidies for eyeglasses, and computer software designed to encourage keyboard users to take rest breaks
  • ergonomic assessments and ergonomic equipment to support employees maintaining safe working habits, including the assessment of new furniture needs during the refurbishment of DVA offices
  • accredited training for health and safety representatives, harassment contact officers, first aid officers and emergency wardens
  • an annual subsidy to encourage participation in fitness and healthy lifestyle activities.

Outcomes

As a result of the Department's WHS initiatives, in 2016–17:

  • the number of workers compensation claims received was reduced by 39.1 percent, and the number of claims accepted was reduced by 46.2 percent
  • employee awareness of workplace psychosocial risks and strategies to mitigate risks was improved
  • resources and policies to support managers and employees were updated
  • reporting mechanisms were improved to ensure legislative compliance
  • employees took part in wellness activities
  • the Department's focus on reporting hazards and mitigating risks to maintain a safe and healthy workplace was renewed.

Key results

In 2016–17:

  • DVA had six notifiable incidents under Part 3 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • no investigations were conducted and no notices were given under Part 5 or Part 10 of the Work Health and Safety Act
  • 14 claims for workers compensation were received, compared with 23 claims in 2015–16
  • seven claims for workers compensation were accepted, compared with 13 claims in 2015–16
  • the workers compensation premium, $3.268 million, represented 2.8 percent of DVA's payroll.

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