Work health and safety
In accordance with Schedule 2, Part 4 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), Austrade is required to provide details of the following matters in its annual report:
- initiatives taken during the year to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of workers who carry out work for the agency
- health and safety outcomes (including the impact on injury rates of workers) achieved as a result of the initiatives taken during the year or previous initiatives
- statistics of any notifiable incidents of which the agency becomes aware during the year that arose out of the conduct of undertakings by the agency
- any investigations conducted during the year that relate to businesses or undertakings, including details of all notices given to the agency during the year under Part 10 of the WHS Act
- such other matters required by guidelines approved on behalf of the Parliament by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit.
Austrade seeks at all times to provide a safe and healthy working environment for employees and others in its workplaces. Austrade employees have access to work health and safety (WHS) information from the Workplace Support Adviser, the WHS Project Manager, human resources managers and through the Austrade intranet.
In April 2012, Comcare accepted an enforceable undertaking by Austrade. The undertaking contained a comprehensive schedule of actions to be completed by 2 April 2014. In particular, Austrade committed to working with Comcare to improve electrical contractor safety management. In December 2013, Austrade published the Electrical contractor safety program guide to assist government, businesses and the electrical industry in the safe procurement of electrical services. The guide was produced without copyright to allow its adaptation by other industries looking to produce a similar document. The enforceable undertaking was completed in March 2014 and serves as a public declaration of Austrade’s commitment to work health and safety.
As part of the undertaking, Austrade also engaged an external expert in WHS management systems to work with the agency to create an enhanced, comprehensive and integrated WHS management system for Austrade by April 2014. The system was independently audited in March 2014 and the audit demonstrated that Austrade has a healthy safety culture across its global network.
During the year, a number of management initiatives were undertaken to reinforce Austrade’s WHS management arrangements and improve the safety culture across the organisation. Specific WHS initiatives and programmes conducted in 2013–14 included:
- continuation of the twice-yearly global WHS forum where staff provide feedback and suggestions for improvements to the agency’s safety management system
- briefing for the CEO, the Executive Group and all Senior Executive Service staff, facilitated by an external legal practitioner in WHS, to report on recent developments in WHS
- workshops for senior Austrade staff offshore, to explain their duties under the WHS Act in relation to WHS due diligence and the practical steps they must take to promote safety at work, at events and while travelling
- workshop for overseas-based human resources managers and finance managers to explain their role in promoting safety
- provision of WHS training modules in the Austrade online induction package, with completion mandatory for all staff. This included WHS refresher training, which was completed by 901 staff during 2013
- introduction of twice-yearly online compliance reporting for each Austrade office to ensure the health and safety features provided are maintained and serviced, hazards and risks are eliminated or managed, and full legislative compliance is achieved, where reasonably practicable
- creation of further online information resources to help workers understand their responsibilities under the WHS Act
- refinement of online incident notification and reporting processes to aid compliance with the WHS Act
- electrical safety inspections of all Austrade offices and residential properties to ensure staff are provided the highest level of electrical protection possible
- voluntary free health checks and influenza vaccinations for Australia-based staff.
In 2013–14, Austrade notified Comcare of three incidents in compliance with the WHS Act. None of the incidents were investigated by Comcare. Table D1 provides three-year information on workplace incidents notified by Austrade to Comcare under health and safety legislation.
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The first incident in 2013–14 occurred in an offshore office and involved an employee of another government agency who experienced a medical incident within the Austrade tenancy. The person was conveyed to hospital and admitted for treatment and later returned to full duties. Austrade notified the incident in accordance with horizontal responsibilities for co-located agencies. The incident was also reported to Comcare by the person’s home agency.
The second incident occurred in an Australian office involving an Austrade employee who was travelling on business from another office. The employee experienced a medical episode from a pre-existing condition. The employee was admitted to hospital and later returned to full duties.
The third incident occurred offshore and involved the tragic death of an Austrade overseas-engaged employee in a vehicle accident.