1001.0 - Annual Report - ABS Annual Report, 2001-02  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/10/2002   
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Contents >> Section 6 - Appendixes >> Appendix 5 - Occupational health and safety

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 relevant legislation are observed. A network of occupational health and safety committees is the vehicle for consultation on Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) issues affecting staff.

As a result of the move to ABS House in early 2002, 21 new Designated Work Groups were formed. During 2001-02, 71 employees were selected/elected (31 of whom required and were trained as Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs)) under the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991. Additionally, there were 22 HSRs elected and trained for the Census Data Processing Centre (DPC) and the Census Field Group.

There were 25 notifiable accidents reported to Comcare for the period. Three notifiable accidents were also reported by the DPC and the Census Field Group.

A National Occupational Health and Safety Committee was established in 2001-02. The committee, which meets twice a year, addresses OH&S issues of national significance to the ABS.


Investigations

Comcare conducted a planned investigation of ABS Regional Offices in South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, between August and September 2001. A number of strategies have been introduced to address the identified issues.


Accidents

There were 459 accidents and incidents at the ABS in 2001-02 compared with 370 in 2000-01. Additionally there were 677 accidents and incidents in the census field and the DPC in 2001-02. The reported accidents and incidents fall into the following broad categories:

5.1 REPORTED ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS (number)

Census Field
and DPC
2000-01 (ABS)
2001-02 (ABS)
2001-02

Motor vehicle/journey related accidents
92
103
72
Accidents as a result of sporting injuries
18
19
5
Back injuries
25
29
19
Computer related overuse injuries
26
40
36
Stress
1
9
6
Slips, trips and falls(a)
n.a.
45
170
Sprains and strains(a)
n.a.
6
26
Other work-based incidents and accidents
208
(b)208
343
Total
370
459
677

(a) Extra categories have been added in 2001-02 to improve reporting.
(b) During the period 2001-02, there were 52 reports of food poisoning effects from a single incident in Central Office. Additionally, there were 33 reports in the Queensland Office resulting from a single incident of smoke and fumes emanating from the air conditioning system.
n.a. not applicable


Rehabilitation
5.2 REHABILITATION CASE MANAGEMENT (number)

Census Field and
2000-01 (ABS)
2001-02 (ABS)
DPC 2001-02

Compensation claims submitted
93
120
206
Compensation claims closed
50
69
158
Return to work plans
33
14
15
Non compensable (fitness) cases
70
136
4
Non compensable (fitness) cases closed
121
74
4



Comcare Premiums

The Comcare premium for 2002-03 has been set at 1.37% of total salary (including GST).

5.3 COMCARE WORKERS COMPENSATION PREMIUM RATE (% of wage and salary expenditure)

1996-97
1997-98
1998-99
1999-2000
2000-01
2001-02
2002-03

ABS
1.84
1.47
1.00
0.92
0.98
(a)1.21
1.37
Agency Pool Average
1.60
1.20
1.00
1.03
0.98
1.02
1.13

(a) Combined ABS and census rate.


Achievements

Measures taken to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees during 2001-02 included:
  • the review of Comcare data to identify and manage high cost claims and trends;
  • Central Office Health and Safety Unit managers have visited a number of regional offices to discuss accident and injury trends and various preventative and intervention strategies;
  • a national program of rehabilitation for ill and injured employees which has achieved positive rehabilitation and return to work outcomes;
  • continuing the focus on safety in all offices including individual workstation assessments and training in the correct adjustment to workstations and use of ergonomic furniture;
  • promoting health and fitness by providing information sessions on a range of health and safety topics;
  • ongoing trials of computer equipment and software to reduce strain and improve comfort for employees; and
  • implementation of an intensive injury prevention program for Census DPC staff involving training and education, safety audits, regular rest breaks and health and wellbeing advice.

Nevertheless, it is a concern that the ABS premium is higher than the agency pool average. The reasons will be investigated more closely with the objective of bringing the premium rate in line with other agencies.


ABS House

A number of initiatives were developed in relation to the design, fitout and relocation to ABS House. These included:
  • the formation of the ABS House Committee which was comprised of ABS management and HSRs who had input into issues relating to the new building;
  • an occupational health and safety specialist consultant who provided professional advice to the project team;
  • pre and post occupancy inspections by ABS management and HSRs;
  • evaluation by ABS management and HSRs on furniture and equipment for ABS House; and
  • conducting workstation assessments for employees post relocation.

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