E.3 Work Health and Safety

Our priority - a safe and healthy working environment for all employees

Work Health and Safety within ACT Health is primarily the responsibility of the management team. This responsibility is also shared with all staff.

Workplace Safety (WPS) has overarching responsibility for ensuring that ACT Health has an effective Work Health and Safety Management System (WHSMS). The WHSMS assists management and staff to identify, manage, monitor and report safety hazards and their associated risks.

WPS provides occupational medicine services across ACT Health to prevent potential infectious disease transmission to healthcare workers. These services include:

  • pre-employment screening
  • a vaccination program (including annual influenza vaccinations)
  • an immunisation drop-in clinic
  • occupational risk exposure and follow-up management, counselling and advice
  • cytotoxic screening
  • a mobile clinic for seasonal flu vaccinations and
  • product monitoring on safety devices, health surveillance and education.

WPS also provides a holistic early intervention physiotherapy service to staff who have sustained a musculoskeletal injury. This assists in early return to work, improved staff morale and decreased workers compensation claims.

ACT Health undertakes health promotion activities, such as encouraging smoking cessation and healthy food choices in the workplace. These add to the achievements already made in keeping staff healthy and safe.

Injury management services were transferred from ACT Health to Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate during 2013-14.

Measures taken during 2013-14

Workplace safety measures undertaken during 2013-14 include:

The WHSMS was enhanced during the year to reflect changes to legislation and changes in operational requirements and processes. A new website has been developed for the WHSMS to provide a simple and centralised updating point, a simpler search function and better user access, and to reduce paper costs. Eleven WHSMS awareness training sessions were run over for four months to familiarise staff with the new web-based system.

ACT Health Tier 1 Work Health Safety Committee (the peak organisational body for occupational health and safety in ACT Health) met four times during the year. This committee is chaired by the Director-General and includes management and workplace health and safety representatives (HSRs).

Tier 2 health and safety committees are chaired by executive directors and represent major divisions and branches. Tier 2 committees meet quarterly or monthly and must include more HSRs than management representatives.

Tier 3 health and safety committees are localised and bring together groups within similar locations or with similar job types. Tier 3 committees usually meet monthly, and must also have greater representation from HSRs than management.

The fifth year of electronic staff accident and incident reporting has resulted in consistent reporting and enabled ACT Health to quickly identify and implement relevant controls, as well as report incident and trend data to management and workplace HSRs.

Safety training remained a priority and continued to be provided for HSRs, managers and new staff. An additional face-to-face course was developed and implemented, called Manager's Investigation. This course is run in conjunction with the Work Health Safety for Managers course. It assists managers to put into place relevant preventive and corrective safety controls.

The ACT Health Infrastructure Program, and the resultant capital construction, has created a need to increase the level of safety advice provided to enable safe work environments for future developments and refurbishment of existing facilities.

A strong focus has been on dangerous goods and hazardous substances, with improved segregation of flammables and corrosive products in storage areas, training of all staff accessing them and a reduction in the amount of flammable materials stored. Workplace Health and Safety has also developed an Emergency Management Plan for bulk dangerous substances, an asbestos management plan, an online register and supporting materials.

ACT Health is into its second year of a three-year external auditing program reviewing work health and safety compliance across all ACT Health divisions to our WHSMS, and auditing to the Australian Standard AS/NZS 4801:2001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems. Recommendations from the safety audits become safety objectives for each division to action and are reported to the safety committee structure.

An e-learning course, Personal Safety and Conflict Awareness, commenced on 1 October 2013. This new e-learning program is designed to assist in preventing and responding to conflict that can arise between staff and those they provide a service to, or meet, during the course of their work. It is highly recommended for all staff who have any interaction with patients, clients, consumers, visitors or members of the public. The course has proved to be popular with staff, and an additional module is to be added, with special emphasis on the 'lone worker'.

The RiskMan incident reporting system has had several modules developed or upgraded in response to organisational safety requirements and user feedback, including:

  • the Staff Accident Incident Reporting page is in the process of being upgraded to facilitate easier reporting and a more intuitive interface for users
  • an Occupational Medicine Unit module has been developed to capture data for staff screening and immunisation, including annual influenza vaccinations, and occupational risk exposures, including needlestick injuries
  • a security incident reporting module has been developed to identify, capture and report on staff personal threats and personal safety incidents (Code Black) where security officers are required to attend.

Target 1 - Reduce the number of worker fatalities by at least 20%

There were no work-related fatalities across ACT Health in 2013-14.

Target 2 - Reduce the incidence rate of claims resulting in one or more weeks off work by at least 30%


Target 2 Reduce the incident rate of claims resulting in one or more weeks off work by at least 30%



Over the last 10 years, ACT Health has consistently reduced the number of new claims that have exceeded five days incapacity per 1000 employees. This improvement varies on a year-to-year basis depending on the nature and complexity of a small number of claims. A small deterioration has occurred in overall performance between the 2009-12 average and 2012-13. However, 2013-14 has matched the baseline. Overall, performance is very good against the ACT Public Service figures.

Target 3 - Reduce the incidence rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) by at least 30%


Reduce the incidence rate of claims musculoskeletal disorders by at least 30%



ACT Health's performance has indicated an improvement compared with the preceding year. The overall trend in performance on these claims is improving with early intervention strategies and proactive case management.

Other key performance indicators

Incidents, accidents, investigations and notices in 2013-14 were as follows (other than notices of non-compliance-see D.6):

1367 accident/incident reports were lodged during the 2013-14 financial year (not including non-individual or Redevelopment Unit contractors). This compares with 1355 lodged during the preceding year. Of these reports, 158 resulted in lost time of one day or more, compared with 164 in 2012-13.

54 accidents/incidents relating to Health Directorate staff were notified to ACT WorkSafe under section 35 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, compared with 74 in 2012-13. In addition, there were a number of instances where contractors working for ACT Health reported incidents directly to WorkSafe ACT.

Several Provisional Improvement Notices (PINs) were issued by HSRs in 2013-14:

  • a PIN was issued in July 2013 on the medication trolley at Alexander Machonochie Centre. The PIN was lifted. However, there are some longstanding issues with the jail design that are outstanding.
  • a PIN was placed on all doors at the Adult Mental Health Unit (AMHU) by the AMHU's HSR on 28 March 2014, following a series of incidents. The PIN was removed on 17 April 2014 following considerable remedial work on the doors.

At 30 June 2014 there were 242 elected HSRs within the Health Directorate.

304 workstation assessments were completed by WPS Early Intervention Physiotherapy Program during the 2013-14 financial year. Workstation assessments are conducted as part of workers compensation return-to-work plans as well as for non-compensatory purposes.