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Creating mentally healthy workplaces
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Safety Essentials - Winter 2014
The new Investing in experience: Working for today and tomorrow guide and website have now been launched. The guide and website aim to provide resources that leaders at all levels can access to assist build age management capability—from recruiting to developing, supporting and transitioning workers through life's work stages.
With longer and healthier lives comes an opportunity for many people to work longer and possibly change career pathways. Organisations need to promote and support their workforce to foster workplaces where the diverse skills, abilities and perspectives of individuals are respected.
Participation and engagement of all workers—no matter their age, skill or ability—is essential for dynamic and high-performing workplaces.
If you’re keen to learn more, view the guide and book in a launch in your workplace today.
Let's work together to shift age stereotypes and embrace all ages at work.
Comcare has launched a new self-assessment tool to assist organisations facing change. The tool will help persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) to undertake appropriate risk management processes to ensure work health and safety obligations are met during times of change.
Organisational and workplace change is a fact of working life and can bring about positive changes for organisations and workers, such as increased productivity, clarity of role and increased work satisfaction.
However, change can also be challenging, and if not managed well, can affect morale and engagement. Consequences may include reduced work performance, absenteeism and the potential for psychological or other injuries that may result in workers’ compensation claims.
The new self-assessment tool is intended to be used by anyone with responsibility as part of a change program including change managers, WHS managers, project managers or those with leadership responsibilities. The tool is a guided self-assessment, monitoring and review process for workplaces to identify key risks and corrective actions.
The tool was launched at Comcare’s recent Preventing Psychological Injury in Changing Workplaces Forum and is now available online.
More information on supporting workers during times of change is available on Comcare’s website.
The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has also recently launched training to assist agencies to develop the core skills of staff in dealing with change and planning and managing change. More information is available on the APSC website.
To highlight the sources of electrical risk in the workplace, Comcare has launched its 2014 Electrical Safety Campaign—Stay Safe in the Workplace.
The campaign will run from July through to September, and provide employers and workers with a variety of information and resources to help them stay safe in the workplace.
In addition, Comcare inspectors will visit workplaces around Australia in August and September to review how electrical safety is being managed.
Make sure you visit Comcare’s website from July onwards to see what new resources have been uploaded to help you stay safe in the workplace.
A recent explosion in Perth has served as a reminder to employers about the need for safe work practices when using flammable refrigerants. The explosion is suspected to be linked to the use of flammable hydrocarbon refrigerants in a retro fitted vehicle air-conditioning system.
People need to be aware that when they use flammable refrigerants in the workplace, including hydrocarbons, strict standards and procedures must be followed. These vary between states and territories and the relevant authorities should always be consulted to ensure the correct guidelines are followed.
There are two key resources that provide helpful guidance on the safe use of flammable refrigerants:
- The Flammable Refrigerants Safety Guide published by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating
- The Department of Environment’s checklist for business owners who may be considering the use of alternative refrigerants in their vehicles. More information is available from the Department of Environment’s website.
Evidence shows injured workers who receive early support are more likely to return to work and health quickly. To achieve earlier recovery outcomes for injured workers and better return to work outcomes for employers, Comcare has developed an enhanced approach to managing claims.
The approach will allow us to screen all new claims and actively support injured workers to return to work and wellbeing as timely as possible. We will do this by:
- responding quickly to the needs of injured workers and their employers
- developing individualised recovery plans to help injured workers recover with support
- assisting injured workers with a safe and timely return to work and return to health.
Getting injured workers back to work and back to health is a shared responsibility. Comcare has sought feedback from employers to identify opportunities for improving our claims management. Employers will be more strongly engaged in the process and play an active role in their workers' recovery plan. Our enhanced approach aims to work more collaboratively with our partner agencies to improve return to work outcomes.
The enhancements will allow us to dedicate more time and effort to the injured workers who could benefit from focused and early intervention. To begin with, we are investing greater resources and time on high-impact claims support to try and achieve timely outcomes and safe return to work for injured workers.
Working closely with an industry expert to validate and refine our approach, it builds on the best components of Australian and international personal injury claims management models. These models have proven successful in assisting employees to return to work and health earlier.
Comcare is implementing the enhanced approach to our claims management over the next few months and the approach will keep evolving over time—according to the needs of our staff, injured workers, employers and our scheme.
To see how our enhanced approach made a difference, read Daniel’s journey [PDF,636KB].
You can direct any questions on the enhanced claims management approach to Comcare’s Employer Account Management team.
During May, Comcare held two successful Rehabilitation Case Manager Forums in Canberra. Over 100 rehabilitation case managers attended the forums which focused on:
- the concept of motivational interactions and the impact this has had for front line claims staff at Comcare
- communication strategies in different stages of return to work planning
- practical learnings from Aboriginal Hostels Limited
- Working for Recovery: a guide on suitable employment for return to work following psychological injury.
Check out the speaker presentations from the forums which are available online now.
Remember, Comcare is hosting a Rehabilitation Case Managers Conference in conjunction with our 2014 National Conference in Melbourne from September 9–11. The program for this conference is currently taking shape and registration is now open.
The role of Comcare’s Employer Account Management (EAM) team is to engage with employers to enhance their confidence and trust in Comcare’s claims and liability management service delivery.
EAM partners with employers to understand their needs and collaborate with them to tailor solutions that:
- improve the delivery of rehabilitation and return to work outcomes for injured workers
- aim to reduce claims costs and liabilities.
EAM is seeking your input regarding the type of technical workshops and ‘best fit’ forums you would like to attend. Please contact the EAM team by email or call 1300 366 979.
Comcare is proud to support the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and beyondblue in their national campaign Heads Up. Heads Up encourages Australia’s business leaders to take action on mental health and understand how investing in mental health pays off. It is the right thing to do for better engagement and thriving workplaces, the smart thing to do for workplace productivity, and legislation states that workplaces must take action to prevent harm to mental health at work.
Figures from week five of the Heads Up campaign show that 2309 businesses have already committed to Heads Up.
The campaign is guided by a report that reveals Australian businesses will receive an average return of $2.30 for every $1 they invest in effective workplace mental health strategies. The report also shows that businesses who are not investing in mental health are losing money.
The reality is that mental health conditions exist in workplaces across all industries in Australia. Mental ill health is one of the major obstacles to a productive and rewarding working life. That’s one of the reasons why Comcare is a founding member of the landmark Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance to help create mentally healthy Australian workplaces.
The 2014 Comcare National Conference, held in Melbourne from September 9–11, will explore this topic further and show you how workplaces are crucial in taking the first steps when it comes to influencing, educating and supporting mental health.
For more information on mental health, our Working Together: promoting mental health and wellbeing at work guide, developed in collaboration with the Australian Public Service Commission, has tools and resources you can implement in your workplace.
Tickets for the Comcare and Seacare Work Health and Safety Awards gala dinner can now be purchased online.
This year, the Comcare Work Health and Safety Awards will combine with the Seacare Awards. The gala dinner will be held at Melbourne’s Town Hall on Wednesday 10 September 2014 from 6.30pm – 11.00pm.
The awards recognise excellence in workplace health and safety, rehabilitation and return to work achieved by individuals and organisations within the Comcare and Seacare schemes.
Tickets for the gala dinner can also be purchased in combination with a Comcare or Seacare conference registration.
On May 6 2014, Comcare hosted a day-long visit to Canberra by Dame Carol Black, expert adviser to the British Department of Health who pioneered the introduction of a ‘fit note’ instead of the traditional ‘sick note’. The ‘fit note’ focuses on what patients can do in their jobs, rather than what they can’t.
During her visit, Dame Black briefed the Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz, on the latest issues and results from the UK Government's program on the health benefits of work. She also spoke at a public service leader’s event hosted by Comcare to reinforce her key messages about the health benefits of work.
Building on the work of Dame Carol Black is Comcare’s Health Benefits of Work Program which is based on the principle that work is good for health and wellbeing. Working in collaboration with general practitioners, the program aims to increase workforce productivity and participation and increase the work retention of people with injury, illness and disability. The program supports Comcare’s broader work with employers to prevent harm, promote health and support people to stay in work when their health circumstances change.
Comcare is a signatory to the Realising the Health Benefits of Work Consensus Statement.
On 27 March 2014, the Hon. Cameron Dick, chairperson of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC), wrote to the Governor-General and the Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz, to advise them of his resignation. Mr Dick’s resignation follows his endorsement as a candidate for the Queensland Legislative Assembly by the Queensland Branch of the Australian Labor Party.
During Mr Dick’s term as Commissioner, he led a review of the Commission’s governance and accountability framework. His stewardship has resulted in significant inroads to improving work health and safety at a national level, the delivery of access to fair and just worker's compensation and ensuring injured workers have a pathway back to productive and meaningful work.
In his advice to fellow SRCC Commissioners, Cameron paid tribute to Comcare for the support and assistance provided. Cameron said he was grateful for the close working relationship and for the first class assistance provided to him as Chairperson.
Senator Abetz has appointed Mr Barry Sherriff as the Acting Chair of the SRCC. Mr Sherriff will serve in this role for an initial three month period. As a Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright Australia, Mr Sherriff has considerable experience in work health and safety and workers’ compensation across a diverse range of industries.
The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) website is currently under review.
The new site, due to go live in late July, will feature a new structure, content and visual design, aimed at enhancing usability and accessibility.
Links to popular topics on the site will now be available directly from the homepage, including information about how to become a licensee, as well as links to information about how to comply with licence conditions.
During the coming months, we will continue to test and refine the site. We welcome your feedback on any aspect of the new site, as we work to improve the SRCC’s web presence.