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Safety Essentials - Spring 2014

SMR_1_-_Safety_MonthOctober is Safe Work Australia Month

Safety Month is held around Australia throughout October and encourages people to focus on safety in their workplace to reduce death, injury and disease.

The theme for this year is 'Work safe. Home safe' which reminds us that the most important reason for making our workplace safe, is not at work at all.

During Safety Month, Comcare will be communicating with you about initiatives to keep you healthy and safe at work.

In the first half of Safety Month, we’ve focused on mental health. We promoted a range of resources and information including the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance's ‘Heads Up’ campaign. We also heard from business leaders about why mental health is so important in the workplace.

During the second part of this month, we will focus on safety leadership and managing risk. Visit Comcare’s Safety Month page for resources on mental health, managing risk and safety leadership.

Safe Work Australia also has a variety of materials that may be of use during Safety Month including a Virtual Seminar Series that highlights the latest in work health and safety thinking. A Safety Month app is also available for download on the Safe Work Australia website.

SMR_2_-_Asbestos_ConferenceAsbestos Awareness Conference 17-18 November 2014, Crown Melbourne

Registration is still open for the inaugural International Conference on Asbestos Awareness and Management at the Crown, Melbourne on 17–18 November 2014.

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency is holding this important event featuring well renowned international experts in asbestos management, health, advocacy and governance designed to challenge delegates into thinking how Australia can drive change when it comes to the risks posed by asbestos containing materials in the built environment.

The conference program has been designed to provide a stimulating and entertaining environment for delegates to discuss the big issues in raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos in our work and domestic environment. Speakers will discuss the challenges of managing asbestos risks now and into the future with practical insight from case studies, research and innovative projects in asbestos management and awareness.

This event will also highlight the role of the agency in advocating change in the Australian and international community.

For further information visit the conference website.

SMR_3_-_Road_TransportComcare's Road Freight Transport Campaign

Comcare’s Road Freight Transport campaign was launched in 2013–2014 in response to the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 identifying road freight transport as a priority industry. As we are well into the second year of activity it’s timely to reflect on the campaign so far.
Comcare supported the Heads of Workplace Safety Authority’s (HWSA) approach to work with this sector by focusing on a number of areas including:

  • reducing falls from height and at same level
  • reducing injuries from hazardous manual tasks
  • securing loads
  • improving traffic management systems
  • improving health and wellness of workers
  • improving return to work outcomes.

A key campaign priority is continuing collaboration with key stakeholders across our jurisdiction. For example, our major heavy vehicle fleet operators offer a considerable knowledge base and good practice examples that Comcare and the sector more widely, can benefit from.

During 2014, Comcare provided operational inspector resources to Operation Austrans, a collaborative multi-jurisdictional enforcement operation that targets safety in the heavy vehicle road freight transport sector nationally. In addition, a Work Health and Safety in Transport and Logistics stream was hosted as part of the 2014 Comcare National Conference in September which received positive feedback from attendees.

Improving safety outcomes in the road freight transport industry nationally has been historically challenging for all stakeholders. However, with the cooperation and collaboration of our industry partners and other regulators we are optimistic that continued and enduring safety improvement within this sector remains achievable.

For further information please email

CALM_1_-_Service_enhancementsService enhancements to help with claims management

We have updated our Active Management Model web pages to include information about our service enhancements and incorporated resources that enhance the claims management process. Two key parts of our service enhancements are the Information Gathering Service and Recovery Plan.

The Information Gathering Service is an independent third party who can support injured workers and employers in writing timely and relevant statements for new psychological or complex disease claims. Based on feedback, we are trialling the Information Gathering Service with a number of employers. The gradual roll out will allow us to refine the service, address any concerns and make changes before expanding the service to all employers. Have a look at The Information Gathering Service Process, now available on our website.

The Recovery Plan is a key part of the Active Management Model that provides Claims Services Officers with relevant information about the injured worker, their return to work and health goals and strategies to overcome any barriers. Visit the Comcare website for more information about Recovery Plans.

We are continually updating the Active Management Model web pages—check in regularly to get the latest news and information.

Please send your questions about the Active Management Model to   

CALM_2_-_Medical_certificateImproving claims determination with medical certificates

Do you know how important a medical certificate is in determining a workers’ compensation claim? A comprehensive medical certificate can speed up the process of determining a claim and give injured workers timely access to the treatment and support they require.

Medical certificates provide crucial information to assist Comcare with the initial determination of a workers’ compensation claim as well as assisting with:

  • determining treatment
  • determining incapacity entitlements
  • developing rehabilitation programs (if required).
Currently, up to a quarter of new claims received each week by Comcare do not include medical certificates, or have medical certificates that do not include sufficient information to allow timely determinations.

Employers, rehabilitation providers, general practitioners and injured workers all have a role to play to ensure that medical certificates submitted with new claims include relevant details to assist with determination. Evidence shows that the earlier injured workers receive support, the more likely they will return to work and health sooner.

Medical certificates should include:

  • employee’s details
  • a precise diagnosis (or description of the condition and symptoms)
  • cause of the condition
  • date of injury
  • date the employee first sought treatment for the condition
  • details of any pre-existing or contributing factors
  • recommended treatment
  • fitness for work
  • the Legally Qualified Medical Practitioner’s signature and date.

For more information, please see our website or contact 1300 366 979.


Improving our return to work guidance and ways of working with you

Comcare has identified a gap in the information provided to employees and supervisors relating to the workers’ compensation and return to work processes. The Helping you recover  booklet has been developed to inform and engage with employees and supervisors early in the workers’ compensation process. We anticipate that the booklet will be released before the end of this year.

A copy of the booklet will be forwarded to all case managers. Employees who lodge a worker’s compensation claim and the relevant supervisors will also be issued with a copy of the booklet on receipt of the claim.

Once the Helping you recover  booklet is released, we will be gathering feedback about the booklet by providing employees and supervisors the opportunity to participate in a short online survey.

Comcare is also committed to streamlining the way we work with you. As a result, we reviewed the Claim for Time off Work (CTOW) form to ensure we are collecting the correct information and simplifying processes to make lodging easier and faster.

To ensure consistency, we have also removed the Normal Weekly Earnings (NWE) section in the CTOW form and made it a separate form. Many employers were developing their own separate version of the NWE, so we captured the information in the updated NWE Advice form.

We are also moving towards fillable online forms. We are currently trialling an online CTOW form with selected agencies. This online form allows employees to submit their claim with ease and keeps them informed as the claim moves to their employer and Comcare for processing. We expect to expand the trial to all employers in a phased approach later this year.

Corporate_1_-_Conference_and_Awards2014 Comcare National Conference and Awards a success!

The 2014 Comcare National Conference was held at the Melbourne Convention Centre from 9–11 September. The conference, hosted by Comcare, once again proved popular with the industry, with over 700 delegates attending across the three day event.

The theme of the conference, Participate + Prevent + Support = Good Health, Good Business, explored how workplaces are centre stage when it comes to influencing, educating and supporting health and wellbeing. Acknowledging good employee health and wellbeing naturally extends to good business health.

The three day conference program was designed around this overarching theme. Day one focused on prevention and day two’s program was designed around recovery and return to work. Day three of the program saw the introduction of a new concept with three specialist streams exploring both prevention and return to work in three major industry sectors, including the biennial Seacare Conference and Awards.

For event images please see Comcare Conference images.

2014 Comcare Work Health and Safety Awards and Seacare Awards

For the first time in 2014, the Comcare Work Health and Safety Awards were combined with the Seacare Awards. Award categories were aligned with winners announced at a gala dinner event at the Melbourne Town Hall on 10 September. Informal feedback confirmed it was a very successful and enjoyable event.

The awards reward excellence in workplace health and safety, rehabilitation and return to work achieved by individuals and organisations operating within or providing a service for the Comcare and Seacare schemes.

There were 78 entries received in the Comcare awards and 23 entries in the Seacare awards, representing both private and public sector organisations. Fifty-three submissions were selected as finalists, with 22 winners ultimately named across eight categories. For the full list of finalists and winners please see the Comcare and Seacare websites.

Corporate_2_-_Working_for_RecoveryWorking for Recovery guide now available

A new guide, Working for recovery: Suitable employment for return to work following psychological injury is now available.

The guidance offers information and resources to help case managers, supervisors and managers assist employees with a psychological injury or mental ill health return to suitable employment. It is specifically intended to help optimise work participation and improve outcomes for psychological injury claims. However, much of the material is relevant regardless of whether the condition is compensable.

The guidance has been developed to supplement Comcare’s First steps back: A guide to suitable employment for rehabilitation case managers. It reflects best practice, provides common sense approaches to dealing with tough issues, and points to a range of other useful information, guidance material and resources.

The guide has been developed from practitioner insights, leading expertise, recent research, and the lived experience of those who have been through the journey to recovery.

Working for recovery is structured to provide clear information, on how to:

  • respond early
  • understand work capacity
  • provide flexible solutions
  • coordinate return to work
  • empower employees
  • tackle barriers and address risks.

We have also developed a brief snapshot overview of Working for recovery.

Corporate_3_-_SRCC_websiteLaunch of the new Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission website

We are pleased to announce that the new Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) website is now live.

The new design is based on the current Comcare site with enhancements made to tailor the site to the needs of SRCC stakeholders.

Some of the features of the new design include:

  • the ability to navigate to the majority of pages on the site directly from the homepage
  • a feature carousel on the homepage, providing an engaging visual space to communicate key messages
  • quick links section on the homepage linking to the most used content on the site
  • updated content and navigation.

During the coming months, we will continue to test and refine the site. We welcome your feedback on any aspect of the site.

Page last updated: 29 Oct 2014