Workplace Health and Safety Policy

1.1 Introduction

All employees of the Office of the Information Commissioner (the Office) are employed under the Public Service Act 2008 (PSA) or by Governor in Council for Senior Executive appointed staff. Therefore,Office human resource (HR) policies, such as this one, are developed directly from the PSA and policies, procedures and directives issued by the responsible Minister and the Public Service Commissioner. All Office HR policies are approved by the Information Commissioner and are representative of the size and function of the OIC.

1.2 Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to ensure:

  • the OIC provides and maintains a safe and healthy work environment for its employees and other persons in accordance with the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995;
  • Management and employees are aware of their responsibilities.

1.3 Effective Date

Approved by the Information Commissioner on 19 December 2011.

1.4 References

  • Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995
  • Workplace Health and Safety Regulations 2008
  • Manual Tasks Code of Practice 2010
  • National Standard for Manual Tasks 2007
  • Public Service Act 2008
  • Office of the Information Commissioner Code of Conduct

1.5 Application

In order for the Office to successfully achieve its goals, there are a range of structures, systems and standards that must be put in place to guide and support the delivery of services. These include-

  • management structures and communication networks;
  • management systems, including planning, resource and performance management systems;and
  • management standards that develop a culture of care, ethical behaviour and leadership.

These structures, systems and standards are sometimes referred to as Corporate Governance. Corporate Governance is the manner in which the Office is controlled and governed in order to achieve its objectives.

Workplace Health and Safety (WH&S) is an important part of Corporate Governance within the Office.

The Information Commissioner has recognised the importance of WH&S through the appointment of a WH&S Officer (WH&SO). This document provides the WH&S systems and standards established to protect the WH&S of staff and clients.

The Information Commissioner is committed to –

  • the protection of employees, contractors and visitors on or near the Office’s workplace.
  • providing adequate human and financial resources to provide this protection; and
  • implementing and maintaining effective WH&S management systems.In order to give effect to the above commitment, the Information Commissioner has established a framework designed to ensure WH&S obligations are met. This framework comprises management, the WH&SO and the Director, Engagement and Corporate Services (DECS).

One of the roles of the WH&SO is to provide coordination and performance of WH&S matters in the Office.

Managers and staff are required to –

  • be familiar with this document;
  • work with the EMT to ensure compliance with policy and procedures; and
  • actively promote WH&S within the workplace.

1.6 Overview of Workplace Health and Safety

What is “workplace health and safety”?

In very broad terms workplace health and safety is a description of the health and safety in our workplace.

We can assess and measure how healthy and safe our workplace is using a number of indicators including-

  • Practical measures (e.g. the number of incidents of injury to staff within the workplace, lost time injuries and absenteeism rates).
  • Structural measures (e.g. what management policies, processes and controls exist to prevent or minimise the incidence of WH&S).

WH&S is a key human resource management objective designed to protect our most valuable resource– our people.

Why managing WH&S is important

Better management practice

Workplace accidents, injuries and sickness cause personal pain and suffering, work disruption and financial loss. Effective policies, practices and training play an important role in helping eliminate workplace injuries and illness.

Statutory compliance

The Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 and Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2008 places certain obligations upon the employer and senior management to manage workplace health and safety.

Managing WH&S

The Office manages WH&S using a comprehensive management framework. That framework incorporates clear WH&S Policy, including statements of management commitment, responsibility and authority regarding WH&S and ongoing WH&S processes. Management of conditions and practices are detailed in Attachment A (PDF, 198.71 KB).

1.7 Systems to Manage WH&S

The Office employs a number of management systems to support WH&S. These management systems fall under 4 categories:

1. Consultative/participative systems

The statements outlined in Section 1.5 place a strong emphasis on shared responsibility for WH&S. Unit management ensure that all staff have an opportunity to participate in delivering WH&S within the Office. In addition, the WHSO has a number of roles and responsibilities under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995. These include -

  • advise the employer on the overall state of health and safety at the workplace;
  • conduct inspections to identify hazards and unsafe or unsatisfactory work practices;
  • investigate or assist in the investigation of workplace incidents; and
  • assist the Division of Workplace Health and Safety Inspectors in conducting their inspection duties.

2. Training and development systems

These systems seek to encourage and maintain a positive and proactive WH&S culture within the Office through safety and work training programs.Training and development takes into consideration the WH&S needs of –

  • executive;
  • managers;
  • staff (cover induction training and general safety training);
  • consultants and contractors;
  • visitors

3. Incident reporting, investigations and analysis

These systems ensure that all WH&S incidents are reported, investigated, acted upon and reviewed to ensure the cause of the incident is treated and no other hazards are introduced due to the implemented controls. The systems also provide for on-going analysis of current and historical data to allow for continual improvement.

Reporting and recording of injuries, hazards and near misses are important to prevent future injuries.

It also allows for workplace injury trends to be detected and analysed. If we know injury trends we can develop strategies to prevent common injuries.

Reporting injuries and keeping records are also important for individuals. Sometimes work activities and environments can cause or aggravate an injury or illness. In these instances, it is important to be able to review an individual's injury history to show how work activities and environments might have contributed. Such documentation is important in supporting the legitimacy of rehabilitation if required.

An incident is an event or an occurrence that injuries a person or damages property. A “near miss”is considered to be an incident even though no injury was sustained or damage incurred.A hazard is anything that has the potential to harm a person or property.

A risk is the potential outcome of a hazard.

An incident must be reported by any witness to the event. This may include-

  • the injured person (where an injury has been sustained)
  • the injured person’s supervisor or manager; and
  • any other staff member witnessing the incident.

Reporting an incident promptly is critical. All treatment and prevention strategies rely on accurate and timely incident reporting.

Incident and Hazard notification forms are attached to this policy.

All completed Incident Report forms must be completed and returned to the DECS within 24 hours of the incident occurring. In certain circumstances, Incident Report forms may be required to be completed immediately following the incident.

Hazards and risks should be reported in the same way as incidents.

Incident investigation involves a number of steps:

a) The incident is recorded -

The DECS allocates a number to the Incident Report form and records it in a register.

b) The DECS may investigate the incident and may -

  • liaise with the person who reported the incident and witnesses;
  • make a final report;
  • implement short and long term controls; and- review controls to ensure effectiveness.

Note: In the case of –

  • incidents causing (or in the future potentially causing) serious bodily injury;
  • a work caused illness or dangerous event;
  • a serious electrical incident; or
  • a dangerous electrical event

The DECS will notify the Information Commissioner within 24 hours of being made aware of the incident.

c) If the case of an incident causing death, the DECS will notify the Information Commissioner within 24 hours of being made aware of the incident.

d) The DECS completes an Investigation Report and make recommendations on possible improvements to work procedures/practices and any equipment upgrades required.

e) The DECS will periodically review work procedures/practices associated with implemented recommendations to assess their effectiveness. The DECS will provide a report concerning incidents to meetings of the Executive Team as soon as is practicable after the incident occurs.

The report will include:

  • the number of Incidents reported within each operational Unit,
  • the number of Hazard/Risk Reports submitted from each Unit; and
  • any outstanding Safety Issues.

4. Inspections and reviews

A program of regular inspections, review and audits provide important measures of the overall performance of the Service in managing WH&S.

The WH&S Coordinator and the DECS are to conduct an inspection of any part of the workplace as required or at a minimum of once every twelve months. (Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 (Qld),S96(7)b).

An independent audit of any workplace, work procedure or both may follow inspections as appropriate.