Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Outcome 1

Report on performance: Outcome 2

Report on performance: Outcome 3

Management and accountability



Financial statements

Appendix C – Occupational health and safety

Updated: 25 November 2010

The AEC is committed to promoting, maintaining and ensuring the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees. The AEC provides an annual report on its occupational health and safety (OHS) performance in accordance with s.74 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (OHS Act).

Executive oversight

The AEC focuses on innovation and continuous improvement, not only in delivering its core business but also in ensuring the health and wellbeing of its staff. The AEC recognises that workplace health and safety is crucial, and is committed to providing a safe workplace for all employees. The transfer of OHS information is important to:

  • alert others to incidents and associated corrective actions that may be necessary
  • ensure new or updated OHS legislation or associated requirements are fully understood
  • inform staff of changes to the workplace, the system or method of work, or equipment.

In line with the requirements of the OHS Act, the AEC has put in place workplace arrangements to facilitate communication and consultation regarding OHS issues. The arrangements include:

  • Health and Safety Management Arrangements
  • national and state/territory health and safety committees
  • designated work groups
  • health and safety representatives.

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Health and Safety Management Arrangements

Health and Safety Management Arrangements (HSMAs) were developed and implemented for the AEC in March 2008. Consultations on developing the HSMAs occurred on a number of levels and included health and safety representatives and OHS committee staff representatives. All employees were also provided with the opportunity to have a say in developing the AEC's new health and safety framework and the way that all employees will participate in the election of their representatives.

The HSMAs set out the AEC policy and structures related to, and the responsibilities of parties involved in, promoting, maintaining and ensuring the health, safety and welfare at work of employees within the AEC.

In line with the HSMAs, the AEC maintains a health and safety committee structure comprising the National Health and Safety Committee and a local health and safety committee in the national office and each state/territory office. These committees encourage consultation on employee health, safety and welfare at work.

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The OHS and Injury Management Plan 2008–10 sets out the AEC's OHS objectives and responsibilities. The plan allows the AEC to track its performance in OHS and injury prevention and management across the organisation.

The key activities identified for 2008–10 that have been completed include:

  • developing and implementing a rehabilitation policy
  • implementing a policy for managing attendance
  • arranging training for health and safety representatives training
  • reviewing OHS policies
  • providing a flu vaccinations program
  • establishing the OHS committee secretariat.

In 2009–10, the AEC also:

  • developed three new policies
    • Manual Handling Policy
    • Family Room Policy
    • Smoking in the Workplace
  • reviewed and updated four existing policies
    • Eyesight Testing
    • First Aid Policy
    • Meal Break Policy
    • Remote Localities Policy.

To promote good management, planning, evaluation and a high level of commitment by staff at all levels, the OHS Communication and Consultation Strategy was developed in 2009–10. Effective communication and dissemination of information will continue to play an important part in the AEC's approach to preventing occupational injury and illness.

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Risk management

In 2009–10, a comprehensive set of risk assessment documents was developed to assist AEC staff to identify hazards, assess and mitigate risk and review risk control for workplaces, including polling places. The documents will ensure that all managers and supervisors in the AEC are aware of the requirement to take all reasonably practicable steps to reduce OHS risks associated with undertaking daily tasks.

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In May 2010, the AEC hosted a national conference to strengthen the commitment to health and safety in the AEC. All AEC health and safety representatives and deputies, as well as state coordinators and executive members, were invited to attend.

The agenda included:

  • a Comcare presentation, refreshing participants' knowledge of OHS legislation
  • a presentation on the AEC Employee Assistance Program
  • workshop discussions on the implementation of the OHS Communication and Consultation Strategy, and on the priorities and strategies for election readiness.

The theme of the conference, Our people and places counting on you, is the basis for new branding that will be used in all OHS documentation and correspondence, to reiterate the AEC's commitment to OHS in the workplace.

A national, coordinated approach was undertaken to purchase emergency beacons for use by field officers working in remote locations. This ensures that all beacons used by staff are uniform, current and in accordance with OHS requirements. Other items purchased in 2009–10 to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of employees included:

  • defibrillators for the national office
  • first aid kits for all polling places for the next federal election.

In November 2009, the AEC offered vaccination against the H1N1 virus to all staff. In 2010, seasonal flu vaccinations were offered. External providers attended the state and national offices to give vaccinations, while divisional office staff were encouraged to make private arrangements and seek reimbursement. In 2009–10, a total of 249 employees received the seasonal flu vaccination and 90 employees received the H1N1 vaccination.

During the year, a significant number of AEC staff were relocated in the national office in Canberra. Injury prevention strategies, including team presentations and individual assessments, were implemented to ensure that all staff were correctly set up in their new work environments. The first aid and family room in the national office was fully refurbished.

The AEC initiated independent OHS inspections of two AEC premises (one in New South Wales and one in Victoria) after concerns were expressed regarding the overall suitability of the space for use as a divisional office.

A total of 96 work station assessments were undertaken, and a total of $31 723 was spent on ergonomic equipment in response to recommendations from workstation assessments. This has resulted in the relocations of one divisional office and the consideration of alternative suitable accommodation for the relocation of another.

The AEC maintained its commitment to ensuring the health and safety of all its employees through its policies for the management of compensable and non-compensable injuries and illnesses. To support AEC staff who experienced an injury or ill health in 2009–10:

  • early intervention activities, such as taking steps to prevent further injury, were implemented
  • a case manager was assigned to support and assist employees returning to the workplace
  • in consultation with managers and employees, individual strategies were developed to assist employees returning and reintegrating into the workplace
  • monetary support was provided for rehabilitation activities in non-compensation matters
  • approved rehabilitation providers were engaged to assist employees with rehabilitation and, where necessary, return to work plans for both compensable and non-compensable injuries.

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The AEC's workers' compensation premium and regulatory contribution for 2010–11 under the Comcare scheme has decreased from 0.95 percent of the 2009–10 payroll to 0.65 percent of the 2010–11 payroll. This decrease reflects the number, duration and cost of claims made by employees of the AEC.

An increase in the number of workstation assessments resulted in a decrease in the number of dangerous occurrences in 2010–11.

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Comcare premiums

The AEC's actual and estimated Comcare premiums for four financial years are included in Table 48.

Table 48 Comcare premiums, 2007–08 to 2010–11
Annual premium ($) 1 009 573 1 001 648 360 260 597 564

The Comcare premium for 2010–11 is estimated to be $597 564.

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Claims management

The Employee Services Section manages compensation and non-compensable claims.

External providers are called upon to support the AEC in undertaking rehabilitation and case management services.

In 2009–10, the AEC managed 44 compensation claims, of which 12 were new claims. This is a decrease in the number of claims managed in 2008–09, as shown in Table 49. Mental stress resulted in the highest levels of lost time.

Table 49 New Comcare claims, 2006–07 to 2009–10
  2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10
New claims 27 28 9 12

In 2009–10, the AEC managed 37 non-compensable cases, including fitness for continued duty assessments, invalidity retirement, and rehabilitation and counselling support. This number was higher than in 2008–09, when 30 non-compensable cases were managed by the AEC.

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As shown in Table 50, the number of incident reports in 2009–10 was slightly higher than in 2008–09, while the number of dangerous occurrences was significantly lower.

Table 50 Accident and incident reports, 2006–07 to 2009–10
  2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10
Accidents/incidents reported 86 140 45 46
Dangerous occurrences 85 126 39 10

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Investigations, directions and notices

There were no investigations under s.41 of the OHS Act.

No notices or directions were issued pursuant to sections 29, 46 or 47 of the OHS Act.