Australian Capital Territory
October is Safe Work Month in the ACT. This year’s theme is “Safety in Construction”, though the month will see the provision of information and advice on a wide range of topics of interest to all other industries as well. This will be an opportunity for organisations and their workers to focus on work health and safety issues of relevance to their workplace in particular or simply to further their knowledge and understanding of how to manage work health and safety risks.
This year WorkSafe ACT will be holding a number of seminars and information sessions throughout October. For information about these events go to: http://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/page/view/3315#Safe%20Work%20ACT%20Month%202013%20Events
WorkSafe ACT has announced the launch of their free app, now available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad through the Apple App Store. ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Mark McCabe advised “This App will make it very easy for practitioners in the field to access our legislation and all of our guidance material, even if they are on a site with poor or no internet access. The app is completely free and is a fantastic resource for anyone involved with work health and safety in the ACT.”
“The documents are stored within the app, so an internet connection is not essential if the user is in the field, providing a really valuable resource.
Where an internet connection is available, it is a simple matter to update the App so that it includes any recent additions or variations to the source documents.”
Twenty-seven workplaces have received a share of $91,000 (inc. GST) from the Healthier Work’s ACT Small Business Workplace Health and Wellbeing Incentive Program.
The Incentive Program is part of the joint Australian, State and Territory Government initiative under the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health. It is managed by Healthier Work, the ACT Government’s free workplace health and wellbeing support service, who invited small businesses in the ACT to apply for funding to kick start health and wellbeing initiatives in their workplace or to extend and add value to existing programs.
Funding will be used to support a range of initiatives including, fruit and vegetable baskets, physical activity challenges, cooking classes, counselling services, quit smoking programs, health checks and even sit-stand workstations, just to name a few.
“Reducing the risk and prevalence of chronic disease in our workplaces makes good business sense. Most of us spend a third of our lives at work, which makes the workplace a key setting for promoting positive health and wellbeing,” said Mr McCabe, ACT Work Safety Commissioner.
WorkSafe ACT has also recently released two new important workers’ compensation publications. The Suggested Reasonable Premium Rates for 2013-14 and the Summary of Key Scheme Performance Data for 2011-2012 publications are both available on their website, www.worksafe.act.gov.au.
New South Wales
In the last issue of Customer Konektions we discussed the recent NSW workers’ compensation changes which were introduced in 2012. The Workers Compensation Reforms are designed to facilitate better return to work outcomes for injured workers and employers. It is now a requirement for the insurer to assess the injured workers’ work capacity; in turn this will guide the return to work planning and the benefits which the injured worker may receive.
If one of your employees is currently in receipt of workers’ compensation benefits, ‘work capacity’ is basically their capacity to work. This could be in their normal job, on reduced hours, on modified/alternative duties, or with another employer.
The work capacity assessment is not a single assessment, but rather the insurer will assess capacity based on a continual process of gathering and assessing information which is obtained. The assessment considers both functional and vocational information and specifically considers the injured workers activity of daily living, medical information obtained from the injured workers treating doctors, specialist, treatment providers as well as medical information obtained from independent medical examinations arranged by the insurer. Injury management and return to work plans as well as the WorkCover NSW certificate of capacity are reviewed as part of the assessment.
The new WorkCover NSW certificate of capacity has replaced the WorkCover medical certificate. The certificate of capacity has been designed to identify what the worker is capable of doing as opposed to what they can’t. It is vital that treating doctors are aware of their role in their patient’s recovery and return to work planning as the WorkCover NSW certificate of capacity has a large weighting in the work capacity assessment.
The Work Capacity Decision is in relation to the injured workers capacity for work, their pre-injury average weekly earnings as well as what constitutes suitable employment. The decision can affect the injured workers entitlement to weekly payments. For instance, after 2.5 years of receiving workers’ compensation weekly payments if the insurer decides the injured worker has some work capacity, but is not working 15 hours or more per week, then weekly payments will cease.
The insurer can make a Work Capacity Decision at receipt of new information. However, should the injured worker’s entitlement remain, then the insurer must assess work capacity at a minimum, every 2 years.
The 2012 Workers Compensation Reforms strongly encourage transparency, meaning an injured worker must be aware of the process and how this will impact them in the future.
According to the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General data, musculoskeletal disorders account for around two thirds of non-fatal workers’ compensation claims in Queensland. Of these, two thirds are a result of hazardous manual tasks. The claim rate in the manufacturing industry is more than double the state average of 40.7 per 1000 workers.
Konekt is working in partnership with many Queensland employers in this sector to improve these statistics via a comprehensive pre-employment risk management strategy to prevent and educate, proactively managing injury occurrence.
Queensland Workplaces for Wellness Initiative, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) has released a second round of the High-Risk Industry Work Health Funding Program and the Zero Harm at Work Leadership Program, providing opportunity for companies to access funding for initiatives to improve worker health and wellbeing.
Our employers from high risk industry groups, can check out details at the WHSQ website: http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/workers/healthy-workers/funding-program/index.htm#.UkpNUj-taeg
The People at Work Project is a research collaboration between The University of Queensland and Australian National University, with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, WorkCover NSW, WorkSafe Victoria, Comcare, Safe Work Australia, and beyondblue (Partner Organisations). The project is funded by the Australian Research Council and the Partner Organisations.
The People at Work Project is a psychosocial risk assessment process aiming to assist organisations identify and manage workplace risks to psychological health of all the people that work in an organisation.
Organisations that participate in the People at Work Project will have access to:
- A reliable and valid online risk assessment tool that is available to australian organisations at no cost
- Resources to support organisations implementing a psychosocial risk management approach and evaluating the effectiveness of chosen interventions
For more information go to: www.peopleatworkproject.com.au
As the Scheme settles into a two agent arrangement, several changes to the schemes management is occurring in the background.
On the 9th of August 2013 the South Australian Government formally announced the reform package to arise out of the Workers Compensation Improvement Project. These reforms are aimed at creating a financially sustainable WorkCover system as well as delivering better outcomes for employers and injured workers. The Deputy Premier and Minister for Industrial Relations, John Rau, has outlined a two staged process for changes to workers compensation. Stage one will stabilise the scheme in the short term, with a fundamental management focus on return to work outcomes through early intervention, whilst stage two will work to develop significantly longer term reforms, with a discussion paper being published in the near future to canvas ideas of how the Scheme could look. Visit the State Governments SA plan to have your say and gain further information about the Workers Compensation Improvement Project.
In the rehabilitation and return to work management space a new fee structure for pre-injury employer services has been developed to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of rehabilitation intervention through a fee for outcome model. This model drives service delivery through new timeframes and outcome incentive payments to providers to improve return to work durations and reduce unnecessary expenditure. This new fee structure went live on 1 October 2013.
WorkSafe Victoria is conducting a pilot of a Triage/Early Occupational Rehabilitation program with the objective of determining the impact to the Return to Work Index through the identification of high risk claims in the small and medium segments that would benefit from early occupational rehabilitation intervention.
The Triage/Early Occupational Rehabilitation pilot commenced in August 2013 and will run for six months, across three Agents targeting approximately 800 claims. The triage model combines 27 variables that assess psychological risk factors to identify which claimants are at greater risk of going beyond 26 weeks off work.
For the pilot, Agents will be asked to consider referral to occupational rehabilitation within 10 days of claim acceptance for scores between 16-20.
<h2″> Northern Territory
Safe Work week is happening in NT from October 27th to November 2nd, providing a great opportunity for businesses and workers to raise awareness of health and safety in their workplace. A number of seminars and events will be head during the week, reaching a number of areas including Darwin, Casurina, Palmerston, Alice Springs, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy. For a full list of events see the WorkSafe NT website.
Work Health and Safety Advisory Council met on the 6th of September 2013 , welcoming new members Adam Gollow and Belinda Howie to their first meeting of Council. The Council members were updated on the work priorities of Safe Work Australia, the status of some draft codes of Practice, the transition arrangements related to the model Work Health and Safety (national Uniform Legislation) laws and NT WorkSafe’s recent involvement with the asbestos management issues that have arisen. The council approved for a working party to be set up to develop a council submission to Safe Work Australia in consultation with stakeholders to address the Draft Construction Code of Practice. The Council was also advised of the NT government’s Review of the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation legislation. A briefing will be provided at the next meeting. The Work health and Safety Advisory Council’s 2013-13 Annual report was approved for distribution to the Minister for Business. The Work health and Safety Advisory Council’s core theme for 2013-14 is to particularly focus on supporting small to medium business to gain a greater understanding of their work health and safety obligations, and ensuring they are cost effective and practical to implement. The next meeting is scheduled for early November 2013.
On Tuesday the 10th of September 2013 the fifth meeting of the Workers Rehabilitation Advisory Council occurred, with its continued focus on the review of the NT Workers’ Compensation Scheme. The review will be completed by the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Council with the assistance of the Advisory Council. The council has scheduled its next meeting for 19th of November where a presentation of a report on the review of the legislation will be provided.
Throughout the month of October there will be a series of safety and health workshops run to celebrate the National Safe Work Month.
For information about the events being held in Western Australia go to: http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/Content/Education/WorkSafe_Forums/index.htm
As part of the National Safe Work Month is WorkSafe Tasmania are holding a number of events in an effort to raise awareness of work health and safety and to reduce work-related injury, illness and deaths.
They are encouraging workers and employers to make safety a priority by attending one of the many free educational seminars and workshops offered around the state.
The seminars will be specific to industry needs and operating requirements, focus on the new WHS laws especially the codes of practice, provide extensive resources that can take back to the workplace and will be scheduled to run more than once in each region (especially popular ones dealing with the new laws).For more information about these events go to: http://www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/events/worksafe_month/worksafe_month_2013
Organisations and individuals who have achieved excellence in workplace health and safety, rehabilitation and return to work were recognised and celebrated at the 2013 Comcare Work Health and Safety Awards. The winners were announced at a gala dinner held at Parliament House in late September.
Congratulations to the following winners.
Category one—Workplace Health and Wellbeing Initiative
- Bis Industries
Category two—Workplace Health and Safety Management System
- Royal Australian Air Force – 303 Squadron Australian Air Force Cadets
Category three – Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Hazard
- Bis Industries
- Royal Australian Navy – HMAS Warramunga
Category four – Individual Contribution to Health and Safety
- An individualBrendan Ross, bioCSL
- An individual with responsibility for WHS as part of their duties
Robert Williams, Department of Defence – Joint Health Command
Category five – Health and Safety Representative of the Year
- Nathan East, Pacific National Rail – Asciano Group
Category six – Rehabilitation and Return to Work Management
- Department of Human Services
Category seven – Individual Contribution to Rehabilitation and Return to Work
- Glenn Woodward, Department of Infrastructure and Transport
Category eight – Claims Manager of the Year
- Tara O’Keefe, Comcare