The ABS is committed to the health, safety and welfare of all its employees. A dedicated unit in Central Office, complemented by individual employees in regional offices, ensures the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991 and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 are observed. A network of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) committees is the vehicle for consultation on OHS issues affecting staff.
During 2002-03, 21 employees were selected/elected and trained as Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) under the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991.
There were 11 notifiable accidents reported to Comcare for the period.
Comcare conducted a planned investigation in March 2003 to assess compliance with incident notification and reporting requirements. A number of strategies have been introduced to address identified issues. Additionally, in June 2003 Comcare reviewed ABS compliance to an August 2001 planned investigation of the Queensland office. Although the report is not yet to hand, the ABS had previously instituted action to address Comcare’s 2001 recommendations.
There were 462 accidents and incidents at the ABS in 2002-03 compared with 459 in 2001-02. Table 5.1 details the broad injury categories for the periods 2001-02 and 2002-03.
5.1 REPORTED ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS (number)
|Motor vehicle/journey related accidents |
|Accidents as a result of sporting injuries |
|Back injuries |
|Computer related overuse injuries |
|Psychological injuries |
|Slips, trips and falls |
|Sprains and strains |
|Other work-based incidents and accidents |
The ABS institutes early intervention and rehabilitation in compensable and non compensable cases. Table 5.2 details a comparison for the periods 2001-02 and 2002-03.
5.2 REHABILITATION CASE MANAGEMENT (number)
(a) Includes cases carried over from the previous year, and new cases.
|Compensation claims submitted |
|Compensation claims closed(a) |
|Return to work plans |
|Non compensable (fitness) cases(a) |
|Non compensable (fitness) cases closed(a) |
Comcare has provided preliminary notification that the ABS workers’ compensation premium for 2003-04 has been set at 1.68% of total salary (including GST). Table 5.3 provides details of the ABS and the agency pool average premium rate.
5.3 COMCARE WORKERS COMPENSATION PREMIUM RATE
(% of wage and salary expenditure)
(a) Revised premium rate advised by Comcare on 30 May 2003.
(b) Combined ABS and census rate.
|Agency Pool Average |
Measures taken to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees during 2002-03 included:
The ABS entered the Comcare Safety Awards for 2003 and was advised by Comcare that it has been short-listed for the Leadership Award for the work undertaken in setting up and operating the ABS Census Data Processing Centre.
- the ABS National Occupational Health and Safety Committee (NATOHSC) developing the ABS Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Agreement. The policy and agreement provides the framework for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) in the ABS. NATOHSC also agreed on the ABS Risk Management Policy and Guidelines
- the ABS and Comcare forming a partnership to monitor ABS OHS systems, and to address identified shortfalls in the ABS OHS and rehabilitation strategic framework
- the ABS continuing to focus on a national strategic program for OHS and rehabilitation
- the continued promotion of health and fitness across all offices.
It is pleasing to note that initiatives introduced by the ABS in the past two years have resulted in a downward trend in the cost of workers’ compensation claims. ABS claims management performance has shown considerable improvement with the average claim cost for the 2002-03 period being some $6,000 below the Commonwealth average. This improvement is a direct outcome of the sound early intervention and rehabilitation strategies developed and implemented by the ABS.