Australian Capital Territory
The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is a single internationally agreed system for the classification of chemicals and the identification of the hazards of those chemicals, including physical hazards, health hazards and environmental hazards. The GHS is published by the United Nations.
Chapter 7 (Hazardous Chemicals) of the Model Work Health and Safety Regulations references the 3rd Revised Edition of the GHS.
Unlike NSW, which adopted Chapter 7 of the Model Work Health and Safety Regulations as part of the NSW Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, the ACT continues to regulate chemical products as dangerous substances under the ACT Dangerous Substances Act 2004 and its subordinate law, including the ACT Dangerous Substances (General) Regulation 2004.
The ACT Dangerous Substances (General) Regulation 2004 references the requirements of the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (the ADG Code).
Work is underway on identifying the necessary changes to the legislation regulated by WorkSafe ACT to give effect to the GHS, but at this time, WorkSafe ACT is unable to advise of an expected commencement date.
New South Wales
NSW Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet has announced a new interactive self-service resource
that provides NSW businesses with information on their workers compensation arrangements.
The Minister said WorkCover NSW developed the online tool, Employer Assist, to provide businesses with information specific to their needs, without having to navigate through large volumes of information on the agency’s website.
“Employer Assist is an interactive mobile, tablet and desktop experience that provides businesses with a user-friendly overview of workers compensation insurance at their fingertips,” Mr Perrottet said. “This helps businesses navigate the workers compensation journey, outlining what can be expected at every step and how to best to obtain assistance.
“The NSW Government remains committed to helping to make it easier to do business in NSW by providing more streamlined and accessible services.”
Content within Employer Assist addresses 90% of common questions businesses have asked when calling WorkCover’s Customer Service Centre.
The tool prompts employers with a series of questions to help them determine the information they require. Businesses can find out most things they need to know about workers compensation, including how to obtain a certificate of currency, what they need if they are starting a new business and what to do if a worker is injured. The tool is optimised for mobile, tablet and desktop use and multi-language support for Employer Assist is being developed.
The Employer Assist platform is one of a number of initiatives WorkCover Insurance will be implementing to improve the customer experience by simplifying and modernising its interactions with customers. A companion resource for injured workers is also currently in development.
Employer Assist can be accessed at www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/employerassist.
Proposed Amendment Introduced In QLD Parliament
The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 was introduced into Parliament on 15 July 2015.
The Bill implements a number of policy proposals made by the current Queensland Government in its pre-election policy document “Restoring the rights of Queenslanders injured at work”. The Bill aims to achieve the following objectives:
- Reinstate common law rights for injured workers that were affected
by changes made by the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation
and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (the 2013 Amendment Act) and establish the ability to provide additional compensation to particular workers impacted by the operation of the common law threshold;
- Provide greater certainty of entitlement and accessibility to compensation for firefighters by introducing deemed disease provisions for firefighters with prescribed diseases; and
- Prohibit prospective employers from continuing to access an individual’s claims history as they have been able to following other changes made by the 2013 Amendment Act.
The Bill also makes a number of other minor miscellaneous amendments.
If passed by Parliament, the Bill will amend the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 to:
- Remove the current limitation on the entitlement to seek damages that requires a worker to have a degree of permanent impairment as a result of the injury greater than 5% to access common law since the date of the Queensland State election (31 January 2015)
- Establish the ability to provide additional compensation to particular workers impacted by the operation of the common law threshold, between 15 October 2013 and 31 January 2015
- Provisions for firefighters diagnosed with one of 12 specified diseases that will deem their injury to be work related if they meet the required qualifying period of active firefighting
- Remove the entitlement prospective employers have to obtain a copy of a prospective worker’s compensation claims history from the Workers’ Compensation Regulator and
- Clarify certain procedural aspects of the claims process and reduce regulatory burden through a number of minor miscellaneous amendments.
The removal of the common law threshold and the introduction of deemed disease provisions for firefighters will have cost impacts for Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme.
There will be some financial impacts for self-insured employers who make up an estimated 9.5 per cent of claims within the Queensland scheme (2014-15), by removing the threshold for all injuries on or after the date of the State election and providing additional compensation to particular workers impacted by the operation of the common law threshold prior to the Queensland State election. However, this will vary between self-insurers.
Initiative To Support Queensland Employers
WorkCover Queensland is supporting Queensland businesses that are committed to building safer workplaces and enhancing return to work outcomes for injured workers.
WorkCover will contribute up to 75 per cent of the cost of a successful applicant’s initiative up to a maximum value of $20,000.
The aim is to improve safety within Queensland workplaces, reduce workplace injury claims and associated costs and improve return to work opportunities and outcomes for injured workers.
You are eligible if you are an employer with wages over $1.5 million or an employer association or union, with an innovation.
Applications are available from 1 July 2015 and will close on Wednesday 30 September 2015.
For more information about accessing this initiative please contact our Professional Service Group Manager, Pippa Rose at email@example.com
The new return to work scheme for ReturnToWorkSA has now commenced. South Australian businesses can look forward to a premium reduction with the new scheme, with industry rates dropping by an average of 20%. This means some of the larger employers in SA are set to save thousands on their insurance premiums.
The premium system for registered employers:
- features a simple premium calculation formula that is easy to understand
- applies a discount upfront to the base premium of all employers
- only includes income support costs of claims in the premium calculation for the previous year only for injuries within the previous three years, allowing employers to influence the amount of premium they pay by focusing on return to work
- rewards any employer with a positive claims cost performance.
The new scheme focuses on a more sustainable recovery and return to work for injured workers, and part of this reform is the introduction of a new Work Capacity Certificate. The Work Capacity Certificate focuses on the physical and psychological functional abilities of the injured worker, rather than on the limitations/restrictions. This implementation is expected to change the way in which all stakeholders view capacity in relation to return to work.
Konekt has been successful in the Occupational Rehabilitation Provider reapplication process with WorkSafe Victoria that occurred in June 2015. As part of this process, we have developed a targeted and strategic plan that focusses on our stakeholder partnerships and the quality of our service delivery, to ensure our performance in the scheme continues to deliver the outcomes we have committed to. We are excited by the opportunity to impact the scheme as one of the largest national occupational rehabilitation providers in Victoria and take our responsibility for this opportunity very seriously.
Teamwork the medicine that helps injured workers back
In June WorkSafe Victoria launched a major public awareness campaign about the importance of helping injured workers get back to work. The campaign can be seen on TV, radio, print and online, as well as in cinemas, doctor surgeries, health centres and pharmacies.
WorkSafe Victoria’s acting chief executive, Clare Amies, said the new campaign aimed to alert everyone involved in an injured worker’s rehabilitation – the injured worker, the worker’s family, the employer, the GP and other health professionals – of the benefits of returning to some form of work when it was safe to do so.
Technology assisting the compensation process
Injured workers and their employers will be able to access guidance material around compensation more conveniently thanks to WorkSafe Victoria’s new claims app.
The Victorian Injury and Claim Support app, or VicClaim, is a simple and easy-to-use mobile and tablet application to help those navigating their way through the compensation claims process.
The app is supported by WorkSafe’s agents, who manage the direct relationship with employers and workers in relation to claims.
Features of the app include:
- GPS navigation to locate service providers close by
- A list of the people involved in the claims process and how they can help you
- A step-by-step guide to the compensation claims process
- Details about treatments available to injured workers to assist in their recovery
- Contact details for approved WorkSafe agents
NES Model changes
On July 1, 2015 WorkSafe Victoria launched a new structure for the delivery of New Employer services within the legislation. The structure review and remodel was driven largely by a realised increase in occupational rehabilitation spend over the last four years and an increase in both original employer service and new employer service commencements despite a lack of real growth in overall claim numbers.
Key enhancements of the model include:
- Streaming based on medical capacity to ensure most appropriate service delivered
- Reports and codes simplified with more focus on transferable skills and injured workers capacity
- Retraining enhancements
- OES to NES transition
The following focus areas will remain the same:
- Focus on achieving sustainable RTW goal
- Fixed fee service delivered in blocks
- Not prescriptive in how service delivered
- RTW incentives including codes and payment guidelines
Konekt has committed to understanding these model changes through the transition process and is actively supporting the key stakeholders impacted by the review including agents, employers and injured workers with both implementation and education.
Over the last three months NT WorkSafe ran a Road Freight Transport Industry Safety Campaign. The campaign was designed to assist road freight transport companies across the Territory by providing information and advice on the major hazards facing the industry.
The road freight transport industry has been identified as one of the seven priority industries under the Australian Work
Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022. Northern Territory statistics show that between 2010 and 2014, there were 339 workplaces incidents in the road freight transport industry which resulted in a workers compensation claim. The total value of the claims over the five year period was $7,409,778 and resulted in 14,636 work days lost.
The top three causes of a workplace incident in the Road Freight Transport Industry were:
- Muscular stress while lifting, carrying or putting down objects
- Falls on the same level
- Falls from a height
Amendments have now been made to the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation after a review into the NT Workers Compensation Scheme.
Amendments have been separated into two reform packages contained in separate bills. The first bill, Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 passed Parliament on 25 March 2015, with changes effective as of 1 July 2015.
For detailed information in regards to the changes made in the first bill changes see http://www.worksafe.nt.gov.au/Bulletins/HealthAndSafetyTopics/Workers%20Compensation/changes-to-workers-rehabilitation-and-compensation-legislation.pdf
Information on the legislation changes contained in the second bill will be updated once the bill has passed Parliament.
In May 2015 WorkCover WA held its first Injury Management Conference. Highlights from the conference 2015 included:
- Commissioner Wayne Gregson sharing his expertise on the importance of leadership in the Department of Fire and Emergency Service’s journey in managing sick and injured firefighters.
- Global futurist and broadcaster, Dr Keith Suter, providing an interesting perspective on future workplace challenges and responses to workplace injury.
- Mental Health Commissioner Timothy Marney sharing his expertise on the important role the workplace plays for those suffering mental health issues, from prevention through to recovery.
- Paralympian Brad Ness sharing his personal return to work story after becoming a below the knee amputee following a workplace accident at the age of 18.
Konekt is currently running a pilot program in Western Australia with one of the large Insurers with the objective of improving return to work outcomes for injured workers over the age of 45. The pilot will see involves very early referral to Konekt and the initial assessment will involve a detailed review of all factors affecting the injured worker’s potential return to work. These areas can include: personality type, potential workplace modification, co- morbidities and home environment. We look forward to sharing the results of this trial.
Better Work Tasmania
The Better Work Tasmania Program launched on 29th April 2015 and is an innovative, collaborative approach to improving work health and safety (WHS) in Tasmania.
Facilitated by WorkSafe Tasmania, Better Work Tasmania provides Tasmanians with a virtual meeting place to share WHS ideas and resources.
There is no charge for using Better Work Tasmania; it is a free access point for tools and opportunities that may benefit Tasmanian workplaces. Better Work Tasmania’s networking program encourages safe work practices by allowing business to share information, ideas and practical solutions to work health, safety and wellbeing concerns. The program also has a mentoring program which connects businesses with mentors who can provide advice and practical help about work health, safety and wellbeing, workers compensation, and injury management. For more information, go to: http://www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/betterwork
WorkSafe Month preparations begin for October
WorkSafe Month in Tasmania is being held in October 2015 and this year employers
are being offered even more ways to access information about safety, wellbeing and return to work. These developments mean that regardless of working hours or location, business size, industry, or role at work, there’s sure to be an option that suits.
In 2015, WorkSafe Tasmania Month will offer online learning options including webinars, podcasts and free downloadable documents. Face-to-face seminars will continue in Hobart, Launceston and Devonport. These seminars will target specific industries. For more information, visit http://www.worksafe.tas. gov.au/safety/events/worksafe-month.
Worksafe Tasmania Breakfast – Creating Safer and Healthier Workplaces
Konekt were honoured to be able to provide our insights and experiences to a range
of Tasmanian workplaces during the 2015 Worksafe Breakfast ‘Creating Safer and Healthier Workplaces’.
Sarah Denness, Konekt’s Head of Sales, Accounts and Marketing, enjoyed participating in the 2015 Skills and Workforce Development Conference, of which the Breakfast function was a key networking and learning opportunity.
Konekt spoke at the breakfast on Leading
an Injury Prevention Culture, citing examples from research and experience to demonstrate why and how investment in injury prevention is beneficial. The opportunity to engage with a diverse range of employers from across Tasmania was inspiring and indicates a promising future for workplace safety and health in the region.
Sarah Denness presents at 2015 Skills and Workforce Development Conference