Workplace health and safety

Management arrangements

The Commission has made Health and Safety Management Arrangements (HSMA) consistent with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).

Under the HSMA there is a statement of commitment, a Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) policy, consultation arrangements, agreed employer/employee responsibilities and WHS structures and arrangements. There are also provisions relating to workplace inspections, training and information and emergency procedures. There are six Designated Work Groups (DWGs) in the Commission, six Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs), and a national Health and Safety Committee, which met twice in 2013–14.

Initiatives taken during the year

In 2013–14 the Commission continued to promote a proactive approach to work health and safety. During the year the most significant WHS initiatives were associated with:

  • strengthening quarterly reporting by managers through the provision of details of WHS matters raised, implemented and/or resolved
  • delivering organisational awareness Mental Health in the Workplace presentations in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and made available to other locations via video conferencing facilities
  • delivering Resilience and Mental Health in Customer Relations workshops to frontline staff
  • providing workstation assessments and, where needed, rehabilitation case management services to meet the health, safety and rehabilitation needs of the workforce
  • making the flu vaccination program available for all staff
  • healthy lifestyle initiatives for the workforce, including Pilates and Yoga, and
  • participating in R U OK? Day which aims to promote the building of a more connected community and reducing the suicide rate.

Health and safety outcomes

The Commission is committed to maintaining and improving the health and wellbeing of its workforce. In 2013–14 there were three new compensation claims and 19 accidents/incidents reported by employees. The Commission closely monitors its compensation exposure and internal rehabilitation programs against broader APS considerations of compensation costs, the increasing incidence of longer-term injuries and more problematic claims, including those of a psychological nature. The Commission’s forecasted workers compensation premium rate has increased for 2014–15 to 0.68 per cent, from 0.47 per cent for 2013–14. The forecast premium rate is well below the 2014–15 forecast premiums for all agencies which is 2.12 per cent.

Reportable accidents and occurrences

Under section 38 of the WHS Act, the Commission is required to notify Comcare of any notifiable accidents or dangerous occurrences arising out of work undertaken by any of its employees. There were no occurrences in 2013–14.


Under Part 4 of the WHS Act, the Commission is required to report any investigations conducted during the year into any of its undertakings. No investigations were conducted in 2013–14.

Other matters

Under Division 7, Part 5 of the WHS Act, HSRs are entitled to issue provisional improvement notices to address immediate risks to improve health and safety performance. No such notices were issued in 2013–14.

Freedom of information

Information publication

The Commission is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). As such it is required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publications Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report.

Each agency must display a plan on its website showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS requirements. The Commission’s plan can be found at

FOI requests

This financial year the Commission received 29 FOI requests, down from 35 the previous year. This number includes requests which may have subsequently been transferred to another agency or withdrawn. FOI requests were managed by a dedicated FOI Officer.


The FOI Act requires the Commission to notify an FOI applicant that their request has been received no later than 14 days after the day on which the request is received. The Commission provided notification in accordance with this timeframe in 100 per cent of FOI requests received.

The FOI Act requires the Commission to notify the FOI applicant of a decision on their request no later than 30 days after the day on which the request was received. Where third-party consultation is required to process an FOI request, this timeframe is extended for a further period of 30-days under the FOI Act. The Commission issued decisions on FOI requests within the 30 day timeframe or the extended timeframe (where applicable) for 100 per cent of the FOI requests received, which were not withdrawn or transferred to another agency.

Further extensions of processing time are allowed under the FOI Act by agreement with the FOI applicant, or by application to the Information Commissioner where FOI requests are complex or voluminous. The Commission did not seek extensions of processing time in either of these circumstances.

Advertising and market research

In accordance with section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the principal officer of every Commonwealth agency is required to include a statement in their annual report setting out particulars of all amounts paid by, or on behalf of, the agency during the reporting period to:

  • advertising agencies
  • market research organisations
  • direct mail organisations, and
  • media advertising agencies.

The Commission did not conduct any advertising campaigns, engage polling organisations, or engage in direct mail activities, during 2013–14.

Where the total amount paid to an organisation is less than $12 400, details have not been included. Expenditure exceeding $12 400 is detailed in Table N1.

Table N1—Advertising and market research expenditure in 2013–14 (over $12 400)
Supplier Amount $1 Purpose
Media advertising agencies
Sensis $19 832 Directory listings
Market research organisations
Empirica Research $18 920 A joint-agency branding recognition project undertaken with the Fair Work Ombudsman to gain an understanding of the general public’s, small business and HR Managers’ knowledge and understanding of the role and work of the two organisations.
(1) GST inclusive.

Legal services expenditure

In compliance with the requirements of the Legal Services Directions 2005, the Commission reports that the total legal services expenditure for 2013–14 was $1 286 034.13 (GST exclusive). The amount relates solely to external legal services. Details are available on the Commission’s website

Ecologically sustainable development

Australian Government agencies are required to report on their performance regarding the environment and ecologically sustainable development in line with section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The Commission operates to ensure energy resources are utilised as efficiently as practicable in the context of a working tribunal and that it maintains a healthy working environment for both the staff and the public.

The Commission’s procurement decisions have regard to environmental management requirements including purchasing locally produced recycled paper and energy efficient lighting.

Programs are in place for the recycling of paper, packaging, batteries, equipment, toner and other materials where possible to reduce the carbon footprint generated by the Commission.

The Commission formed a new relationship with Close the Loop, an organisation affiliated with Planet Ark, for toner replacement. Close the Loop reuses the plastics from toner cartridges for other purposes, such as manufacturing eWood which can be used in retaining walls and landscaping materials—and creates pens using ink leftover in the discarded cartridges.

Kitchens in a number of offices have separate bins to manage waste including organic, recycling and general waste.

The Melbourne and Sydney offices have sensor lighting installed in hearing, conference, meeting rooms and offices which have a timer mechanism to automatically switch lighting off when the rooms are not occupied. Energy efficiency T5 lighting has also been installed. Shower timers have been installed in all showers.

The Commission has reduced its carbon footprint by implementating a new video conferencing system that provides superior quality and reliability, thus providing a viable alternative to travel. The Commission has also reduced its travel significantly since the previous reporting period.

The Commission ensures that new leases over a certain size have a green rating. The Commission actively encourages its landlords to increase their NABERS rating, a national rating system that measures the environmental performance of Australian buildings, tenancies and homes.

The Commission participated in and supported Earth Hour 2014, a campaign to create awareness of global warming and encouraging people to take on better energy conservation habits, by turning off lights, appliances and desktop computers in all offices for Earth Hour on 29 March 2014.

Discretionary grants and grant programs

The Commission did not administer any discretionary or other grant programs during the reporting period, and no discretionary or other grants were made.

No research partnerships were awarded in 2013–14. Information on research partnerships that were awarded in other years is available on the Commission’s website

Corrections to previous annual report

Page 48, Table 24: Registered Organisations—finalisations

The heading ‘Changes to eligibility rules’ is incorrect and should be ‘Change of name’. The heading ‘Change of name’ and the corresponding number ‘6’ are incorrect and the heading should be ‘Changes to eligibility rules’ and the corresponding number ‘9’. The number ‘4’ of cancellation of registration under section 30 of the Registered Organisations Act is incorrect and should be ‘7’. The number ‘14’ of total finalisations is incorrect and should be ‘20’.

Commonwealth Disability Strategy

Since 1994, Commonwealth departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at From 2010–11, departments and agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been replaced by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a ten year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high level two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the Strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these reports will be available in late 2014, and can be found at