Around the States

ACT

Australian Capital Territory

WorkSafe ACT’s Healthier Work service hosted its second networking breakfast for members of the Canberra business community during October.

“Healthier Work is an important service which supports employers in developing health and wellbeing initiatives within their workplace,” Work Safety and Industrial Relations, Minister Mick Gentleman said.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe and Acting Chief Health Officer Andrew Pengilley attended the breakfast to discuss the theme of ‘putting health back into health and safety’, with a focus on nutrition and physical activity.

Mr Rod Docker, CEO of The Tradies Group, also attended to speak about his organisation’s involvement with Healthier Work. As part of their 12 month health and wellbeing plan, the club will be going smoke free in December this year for all staff.

“Creating a healthier workplace can increase employee productivity and engagement, help with team-building and reduce absenteeism,” Minister Gentleman said.

Several significant compliance issues have been identified as a result of a recent WorkSafe ACT safety blitz on truck-mounted concrete placing booms.

“Since the release of the Getting Home Safely report, a number of construction companies have started the journey to an improved attitude to health and safety, and there are some good initiatives occurring with support from industry organisations such as the HIA and the MBA,” said Mr McCabe.

WorkSafe ACT has also bolstered its educative arm and has been running industry information sessions and announced a new training program for construction companies on how to develop and write their own Safe Work Method Statements. WorkSafe ACT has also increased their proactive stance, via activities such as this blitz.

NSW

New South Wales

NSW Scheme Agent Deed Changes

The Workers Compensation Scheme Agent Deed is a contract between the Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer, and insurance companies that authorises selected insurers (called scheme agents) to provide workers compensation policy and claim services to NSW employers.

The deed sets out the contractual arrangements between the Nominal Insurer and its scheme agents including the agent’s scope of authority, the terms of the agreement and any relevant legislation. The Nominal Insurer is taken to be a licensed insurer and WorkCover acts on behalf of the Nominal Insurer in undertaking its functions.

Scheme agents agree to provide policy and claims management services in the NSW workers compensation scheme on behalf of the Nominal Insurer according to key performance indicators in the deed. The Nominal Insurer monitors scheme agent performance based on data submitted by scheme agents and other sources. Scheme Agent Deeds are usually three to five years in duration.

2015 Scheme Agent Deed

The Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer has selected five scheme agents (insurers) to provide policy and claims management services in the NSW workers compensation scheme under the 2015 Scheme Agent Deed.
The following organisations have been appointed:

  • Allianz Australia Workers’ Compensation (NSW)
  • CGU Workers Compensation (NSW) Limited
  • Employers Mutual NSW Limited
  • GIO General Limited
  • QBE Workers compensation (NSW) Ltd

Commencing 1 January 2015, the new deed will run for an initial period of three years with an option to extend for two one-year periods.

The 2015 deed reflects the aims of recent workers compensation reforms to deliver fair, transparent and predictable insurance pricing. It aims to provide improved services for workers and employers and supports workers to recover at or return to work.

Gallagher Bassett Services (GBS) and Xchanging, who currently operate in the scheme were not appointed under the new arrangements. Both GBS and Xchanging will continue to operate in 2015 under the old contract arrangements and performance requirements until all their policies and claims have been moved to the insurers that were awarded a new contract. This will be completed by 31 December 2015, but an earlier completion date is anticipated.

If your policy is with Gallagher Bassett Services you will be sent information about arrangements at the end of November 2014. Prior to your policy expiring in 2015, Allianz will send you out a renewal invitation. If your policy is with Xchanging and has been selected for transfer you will be notified at least eight weeks before the transfer date. Prior to your policy expiring in 2015, Employers Mutual will send you out a renewal invitation. If your policy is with QBE and has been selected for transfer you will be notified at least eight weeks before the transfer date. Prior to your policy expiring in 2015, GIO will send you out a renewal invitation.

QLD

Queensland

Winners of the 2014 Queensland Safe Work Awards have been announced

This year, 133 organisations and individuals entered the Queensland Safe Work Awards, demonstrating innovation, leadership and commitment to making Queensland workplaces healthier and safer.
Konekt Queensland congratulates all the winners and finalists.
Category 1—Best work health and safety management system
Winner: Logan Water Alliance, Beenleigh

Category 2—Best solution to an identified work health and safety issue
Winner: Brisbane Motorway Services, Bowen Hills

Category 3—Best work health and safety practices in a small business
Winner: Hector the Erector, Wynnum

Category 4—Best individual contribution to work health and safety
Winner: Graham Hall, Fulton Hogan, Eight Mile Plains

Category 5—Best solution to an identified electrical safety issue
Winner: Fulton Hogan, Toowoomba

Category 6—Most significant improvement to work health and safety performance
Winner: CV Services, Eagle Farm

Category 7—Best workplace health and wellbeing initiative
Winner: Seqwater, Ipswich

Category 8—Best demonstrated leadership in work health and safety
Winner: Gay Constructions, Murarrie

 

WorkCover QLD – Site visits highlight some regional improvement opportunities

Over 20 per cent of regional Queensland employers may not have the correct level of workers compensation coverage for their employees according to the results of recent WorkCover Queensland compliance and education site visits.

WorkCover conducted over 300 site visits last month to employers from the construction, racing, retail and agriculture industries in Townsville, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Brisbane.

WorkCover’s assessment of 41 strawberry farms on the Sunshine Coast found that only 23 had appropriate workers compensation coverage for their workers. The remaining 18 were either uninsured or under insured, leaving both employers and workers at risk.

WorkCover also visited 150 construction employers in Townsville and found 84 per cent had the right level of cover.

The retail sector showed a 12 per cent non-compliance rate from a total of 52 site visits. However there was a significant variance between regions with 22 per cent non-compliance in Toowoomba and only six per cent in Townsville.

The 150,000 businesses who are part of WorkCover Queensland’s scheme benefit from the lowest average premium rate in Australia ($1.20) and one of the nation’s fastest return work rates with 96 per cent of injured workers returning to work within 12 months.

For more information on your rights and responsibilities and further details on who you should cover for workers compensation, please contact WCQLD
on 1300 362 128.

SA

South Australia

On 14 October WorkCoverSA announced a $234 million improvement in the WorkCover scheme’s unfunded liability and a resulting 7.3% increase in the function ratio to 71%. The Chairman, Jane Yuile commented that the board was very pleased with the results noting that it reflected management’s active approach to managing the scheme. She went on to say that this approach has been the catalyst behind a marked increase in the return to work rates.

This includes the early intervention program that was introduced through the agents that provides face-to-face support to workers and employers within the workplace in the initial stages of injury and claim lodgement.

Mr Greg McCarthy, WorkCoverSA Chief Executive Officer, commented on the early intervention program, stating it “provides the right support from the beginning which has seen better and faster outcomes for workers, employers and the Scheme.” “The program started with small employers in metropolitan areas and is now being expanded to include medium sized employers and in the state’s south east region. The new legislation would enable these services to be significantly expanded.”

Ms Yuile noted that WorkCoverSA’s investment strategy also delivered a strong performance with a 12.6% ($290 million) return for the 12 months to June 30.

Ms Yuile said that although these results are positive it was clear to the WorkCoverSA Board and senior management that even with these results the South Australian scheme still needed an overhaul to achieve the desired results for workers and employers.

“Whilst the financial performance is unprecedented, it still only delivers a break even premium rate of 2.87% which is above the current average premium rate of 2.75% we are charging, and within the existing legislative framework a premium rate below 2.75% is unlikely,” Ms Yuile said.

“When you compare this against other jurisdictions it is simply uncompetitive and unsustainable for the 49,500 South Australian employers registered with WorkCoverSA.”

“We see the Government’s proposed reforms announced in the Return to Work Bill 2014 currently before Parliament delivering a much more affordable average premium rate for employers while also providing more effective support and services to people who have been injured at work,” Ms Yuile said.

On 30 October the Return to Work Bill 2014 passed all stages of Parliament. To access the full bill, go to http://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/lz/b/current/return%20to%20work%20bill%202014.aspx

A number of key changes in the new Act include a focus on early intervention, changes to income maintenance step downs, including a return to 100% of income maintenance for the first 52 weeks of injury, and 80% from 53 weeks to 104, automatic payment cessations at 104 weeks unless classified as seriously injured, the abolishment of medical panels, removal of secondary injury coding, changes to the tribunal and the introduction of Common Law for seriously injured workers. This new legislation came into effect on 1 July 2014.

VIC

Victoria

Congratulations to this year’s award winners in the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) Health and Safety Awards.

Best Solution to a Specific workplace Health and Safety issue
A.G Coombs Group (Moorabbin) – A.G Coombs Group and Brookfield Multiplex developed an alternative method to installing the vertical shafts (services risers) in multi-storey buildings which deliver electrical, air conditioning and plumbing services to each floor. The initiative removes much of work conducted at height at the site to a controlled factory environment.
Highly commended: Community Chef (Altona) – Community Chef invented an automated condiment dispenser to eliminate repetitive manual handling during food preparation.

Health and Safety Representative of the Year
Sue Smith from Hepburn Health Service (Creswick) – Sue was recognised for her creative approach to promoting health and safety in the workplace and her ability to engage colleagues to actively think about health and safety.

Health and safety invention of the year
Safescape Laddertube, Safescape (Golden Square) – Safescape has invented the Safescape Laddertube to reduce the risk of injury or death to workers installing, using or performing maintenance on emergency escape systems in hard rock underground mines.

Employer excellence in return to work
Chandler Macleod Group Ltd (Altona) – Chandler Macleod has established an early intervention return to work partnership, which ensures employees are given the best opportunity to recover from injury and return to work safely and quickly.

Return to work coordinator excellence
Fanol Isai from Catholic Homes (Hawthorn) – Fanol has implemented a Managed Return to Work Skills Assessment and Training Program, as well as a sophisticated incident, hazard and near miss reporting system, which enables contributing factor analysis of all incidents.
Highly commended: Marc Bullen from Hardwick’s Meat Works (Kyneton) – Mark pioneered the use of photographs and video footage of the different processing roles at the company to ensure treating practitioners understood role requirements in order to plan an injured employee’s return to work.

Worker return to work achievement
Zoe Welsh from Ambulance Victoria (Horsham) – Zoe defied expert medical opinion and returned to work as a paramedic following a serious back injury.

Commitment to workplace health and wellbeing
St John of God Health Care Inc. (North Ballarat) – St John of God Health Care has introduced the ‘Live Well, Work Well’ wellness program designed to enhance mental emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual wellbeing in the workplace. The program includes an online health portal and is incorporated into the organisation’s corporate culture.

NT

Northern Territory

Between 26 October and 1 November the Northern Territory celebrated Safe Work Week. A number of educational safety seminars were delivered around the Territory, providing information and advice on a number of health and safety topics that engaged all areas of industry prominent in the Territory. Topics were diverse and relevant including mentally safe workplaces, maximising health and safety in the heat, early intervention, small business safety issues, and prevention of falls in workplaces. Sessions were delivered in Darwin, Katherine, Tenant Creek and Alice Springs, as well as virtual sessions online to ensure education and information was accessible throughout the Territory. If you missed these events, head to the NT WorkSafe website for more information.

In late August the review into the Northern Territory Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act was completed and the report was submitted to the Northern Territory Government for consideration. This review had been undertaken with significant consultation throughout the territory. A copy of the report and an executive summary is available from the NT WorkSafe website.

A safety alert has been issued to highlight the risk of serious crush injuries associated with working underneath heavy vehicles when measures have not been taken to immobilise the vehicle. The safety alert was issued post the findings from a fatal crush incident in Katherine. For further information, findings and advice can be found at this link http://www.worksafe.nt.gov.au/SafetyAlerts/SiteAssets/Lists/Posts/NewPost/SA201406.pdf.

WA

Western Australia

It was announced in late October that the WA Government has approved the drafting of a bill to repeal and replace the Workers Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981. In 2010 the Government approved a two-stage legislative review process. Stage one of the review was to develop amendments to the Act in 2011. Stage two is to develop a new workers compensation statute that has more accessible and contemporary language and legislative approaches. A final report, setting out a comprehensive framework for the new statute has been developed. A number of written submissions on the discussion paper were received, which were utilised in conjunction with many stakeholder engagement meetings and workshops with WorkCover WA, to finalise recommendations. The Government has yet to determine the timing of the drafting process however has committed to a consultative approach on the legislative review, and intends to release a draft bill for public comment before it is introduced into parliament.

On 1 November amendments to the Workers Compensation and Injury Management (Scales of Fees) came into effect. These amendments have applied a 2.83% increase to all medical and allied health fees. A compilation of all medical and allied health fees is available on the WorkCover WA website.

TAS

Tasmania

WorkSafe Tasmania Month was held throughout October as part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness of work, health and safety and to reduce death, injury and disease in workplaces.

Each year workers and employers are encouraged to make safety a priority by attending one of the many free educational seminars and workshops offered around the state.

We hope you were about to attend some of these informative events.

Congratulations to the WorkSafe Tasmania award winners for 2014.

Overall Winner
Powerlinestas

Best Workplace Health & Safety Management
Winner: Hazell Bros Group
Highly Commended: Veolia Environmental Services
Finalist: Department of Treasury and Finance

IPM Safety Award for ‘Best Solution to an Identified Work Health & Safety Issue’
Winner: Grange Resources Tasmania
Highly Commended: Doble Industries & Hanson
Finalists: Cement Australia & Country Club Tasmania

GIO Workers Compensation Award for ‘Best Work Health & Safety Practice/s in a Small Business’
Winner: Powerlinestas
Highly Commended: 300k Pty Ltd

Best Individual Contribution to Work Health & Safety
Winner: Tim Leeson, Department of Premier and Cabinet

Self Insurers Association of Tasmanian Award for ‘Best Injury Management and Return to
Work Program’
Winner: Veolia Environmental Services
Finalist: TasWater

Safety Institute of Australia Award for ‘Health & Safety Representative of the Year’
Winner: Danny Fraser, Tasmanian Health Organisation – North
Highly Commended: Cheryl Hayes, Tasmanian Health Organisation – North

Commitment to a Workplace Health & Wellbeing Program
Winner: Morske Skog Boyer
Highly Commended: Devonport
City Council & Ronald Young & Co Builders.