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.
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 are crucial, and is committed to providing a safe workplace for all employees.
The People Services Branch in the National Office works with state managers and branch heads by providing Balanced Scorecard report data on injury and illness costs and trends at the national level, and information relating to early intervention assistance and support for their staff. Organisational OHS performance indicators are also provided to National Health and Safety Committee members to inform national injury prevention strategies.
Health and Safety Management Arrangements (HSMAs) were developed and implemented for the AEC in March 2008. The HSMAs set out AEC policy and structures for promoting, maintaining and ensuring the health, safety and welfare at work of employees, and the responsibilities of the parties involved.
As an outcome of an intergovernmental agreement for regulatory reform, made in 2008, Australian governments have begun to enact legislation to implement a new national framework for workplace health and safety through the harmonisation of legal requirements between jurisdictions. The AEC has reviewed its HSMAs and where possible updated them to reflect the introduction of the new framework, which is planned to take effect on 1 January 2012.
In line with the HSMAs, the AEC maintains a health and safety committee structure comprising the National Health and Safety Committee and local health and safety committees in the National Office and each state or territory office. The committees encourage consultation on employee health, safety and welfare at work.
In 2010–11, the AEC renewed its contract for Employee Assistance Program services with IPS Worldwide for a term of three years. Program usage data and feedback from staff indicated that the service was underutilised by the AEC. A marketing strategy is being developed to encourage the use of the program by AEC employees and their family members.
In December 2010, research was undertaken to understand the role of the mental health of staff in the AEC's future success. The research will be incorporated into the development of the AEC's health and safety wellbeing framework and a revised action plan for 2011–14. The plan will also address the requirements of the new national legal framework for work health and safety.
The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team continued to cultivate and improve its working relationships with key stakeholders, such as the National Property Team. Examples of successful collaboration between the two teams in 2010–11 include:
Throughout 2010–11, the AEC continued to invest in an injury prevention approach to maintain the health and wellbeing of its staff, including:
In particular, the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team supported the divisional network in the prevention of work-related illness and injuries related to election activities, before, during and after the 2010 federal election. The key features of this approach included:
In anticipation of the expected work pressures associated with the election period, the AEC developed a range of strategies to promote preventive measures throughout that busy period. Communication strategies encouraged employees to take care of themselves and their colleagues, while the Employee Assistance Program was advertised as a source of support.
During the 2010 federal election period, the Rehabilitation Case Manager handled 58 compensable claims, non-compensable cases and early intervention programs. This compares with a total of 42 cases for the 2007 federal election period. The increase was mostly in non-compensation cases, which rose from zero new cases in 2007 to 11 new cases in 2010. This is a reflection of the AEC's commitment to early intervention and reporting of non-compensation matters to ensure that employees receive early support to minimise absences and have the necessary adjustments within the workplace.
Figure 18 shows the total number of new claims managed by the AEC during the 2007 and 2010 federal elections, along with a breakdown of the number of compensation claims, non-compensation cases and early intervention support.
Given that the AEC provides almost 8 000 polling places for a federal election, it is predictable that some incidents and injuries will occur at polling places. Examining incident reports and identifying trends will assist the AEC to reduce such occurrences in future by conducting risk assessments and implementing mitigation strategies before the election event.
Data from the 2010 federal election shows a high number of incidents and injuries associated with slips, trips and falls (32 per cent of all incidents) and muscular stress (21 per cent of all incidents). Incidents in which the mechanisms were unspecified included minor cuts; injury resulting from inappropriate use of furniture; and two incidents of fainting.
Figure 19 compares the incidents that occurred during the 2007 and 2010 federal elections, by number and type.
A post-election examination of outcomes from the two elections concluded that in 2010, compared to 2007:
These factors will be considered as part of the OHS election preparedness strategy for the next election and as part of the broader program of work for health, safety and wellbeing.
The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team is currently analysing the key trends in incident reports from the 2010 federal election and addressing issues to ensure that risks are reduced in future election events.
As shown in Table 43, the number of incidents and accidents, as well as the number of dangerous occurrences, was higher in 2010–11 than in 2009–10.
|Incidents and accidents reported||140||45||46||86|
This was due to the 2010 federal election event. It is generally recognised that the numbers of incidents, accidents and dangerous occurrences increase during election years, due to a substantial increase in AEC staff numbers employed for the election period. Of the 86 reported incidents and accidents in 2010–11, 61 (70.9 per cent) were election related.
The number of reported incidents and accidents during the last financial year that were not election related, 25, represents a significant decrease (55.6 per cent) from the previous annual total for reported incidents and accidents.
In addition, as Table 43 shows, both the total number of reported incidents and accidents and the number of dangerous occurrences that took place in 2010–11 were significantly lower (38.6 per cent and 45.2 per cent, respectively) than corresponding results for 2007–08, the previous year in which a federal election was conducted.
During 2010–11, no Comcare OHS investigations were undertaken at the AEC and no provisional improvement notices, improvement notices or prohibition notices were issued.
The AEC's workers compensation premium and regulatory contribution for 2011–12 under the Comcare scheme increased for the 2011–12 payroll. This difference reflects the number, duration and cost of claims made by employees of the AEC.
The AEC's actual and estimated Comcare premiums for the four financial years to 2010–11 are shown in Table 44.
|Annual premium ($)||1 001 648||360 260||597 564||688 706|
The Comcare premium for 2011–12 is estimated to be $688 706. This represents an increase in the premium rate from 0.53 per cent of payroll in 2010–11 to 1.28 per cent of payroll in 2011–12.
The Employee Services Section manages compensation and non-compensable claims.
External providers support the AEC with rehabilitation and case management services.
In 2010–11, the AEC managed 45 compensation claims, of which 27 were new claims. This was an increase compared to the number of claims managed in 2009–10, as shown in Table 45. Of the total number of compensation claims, the highest levels of lost time were associated with mental stress claims.
In 2010–11, the AEC managed 42 non-compensable cases, including fitness for continued duty assessments, invalidity retirement, and rehabilitation and counselling support. This number was higher than in 2009–10, when 37 non-compensable cases were managed by the AEC.
The AEC has placed a specific focus on early intervention processes. Early contact is made with the injured employee immediately after the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team is notified of any incident or accident. Prompt assistance is offered to support the employee's return to work, including access to the Employee Assistance Program and any reasonable adjustments required in the workplace to meet individual needs.