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Comcare jurisdictional priorities and update

Video transcript of the WHS Inspector Forum presentation – Comcare Jurisdictional Priorities and Update.

Presented by Thomas Dawson, Comcare on 3 December 2020.


Facilitator:

So next presentation is Tom Dawson, who's director of Comcare's South Australian and Northern Territory regions. And Tom's going to be outlining Comcare's approach to major infrastructure projects, and joint jurisdictional works as well as providing an update on regulatory priorities for Comcare. So welcome, Tom, please take it away.

Tom:

Thank you, Facilitator. And good afternoon, everyone, I hope you're enjoying the forum. I know a lot of hard work has gone into getting it up and running. So yeah, my name is Tom Dawson, I'm the Regional Director of the South Australia and Northern Territory office of Comcare in Comcare's Regularity Operations Group. I'm based in Adelaide, and I acknowledge today that my reliance on the technology during this webinar and the potential that I'll be talking to myself for 30 minutes, but all being well, the team in the back room there will keep me on track, and let me know if there's any issues. We certainly have moved a long way from butchers' paper in front of the classroom and overhead projectors. So, it's quite exciting, but it is the first time I've done a webinar. So please, I appreciate your patience.

So, session overview, today we're going to talk about Comcare's jurisdiction and how this can impact and interact with State and Territory regulators. I want to talk about who we are, acknowledge that inspectors in the audience may have differing levels of awareness and understanding of where Comcare fits into the Work Health and Safety regulatory environment in Australia. I understand we've got some friends and colleagues here from New Zealand. And I also understand that they have the luxury of one piece of legislation across the nation, whereas in Australia here, with the different States and Territories, although we've got some model laws in a few of the States and Territories, we're not quite at the uniform benchmark we'd like to be yet, and then on top of that, we've got the layer of Commonwealth Work Health and Safety legislation where Comcare comes into it.

So, I often think of the awkward conversations at barbecues that Comcare inspectors must have when people ask them, “What do you do? And who do you work for?” Because people without any work health safety background, normally have some idea of what you do if you mention that you work for NT WorkSafe or Safework New South Wales, for example. I mean, the clue is in the title. But as Comcare we unfortunately don't have this luxury, our name doesn't help us in this regard. So, we have to explain who we are and what we do. It's not unusual for us to receive calls from colleagues in other State and Territory jurisdictions, querying which employers, which PCBUs are in Comcare's jurisdiction. And to be honest, I even have to confirm on occasions who's in and who's out of our jurisdiction.

So, I'm going to use this opportunity, excuse me, that's some of the technology issues there. So, I'm going to use this opportunity to, just bear with me a second, I've got little speech boxes coming up right where I've got my text here. Get the problems over with early. So, I'm going to use this opportunity to introduce Comcare, the Work Health Safety Regulator, give an overview of Comcare's jurisdiction, and explain where we are and what we do. I'll talk to the types of scenarios that Comcare's State and Territory jurisdictions are likely to meet and cross over with us. Understanding contractual arrangements at workplaces, from simple setups, to joint ventures, consortiums, etc. And questions around jurisdiction can be complex. I'm not a lawyer, and it's not my intention to try and unpack every potential contractor or subcontractor scenario.

My intent with this session today, is to raise awareness of Comcare's jurisdiction and the PCBUs that we cover and promote and encourage discussion and engagement for when we respond to workplace incidents and concerns involving both the Commonwealth and State and Territory PCBUs. I'll also give a bit of a background into Comcare's recently created Major Infrastructure Projects team, some of the major projects around the country, certainly workplaces where Comcare interacts with State and Territory Work Health Safety regulators. And I'll finish off with a brief overview of our current regulatory priorities with a background and rationale as to why we land in these priorities, and how we plan to roll them out in the jurisdiction in the context of the Covid environment.

Then we'll have a few minutes for some questions at the end. OK, next slide, please. OK. So Comcare's national footprint as a national regulator, with inspectors based in all States and Territories. I couldn't actually say that last year. However, we've opened offices in Darwin and Launceston as part of the Federal Government's decentralisation agenda. So that happened this year. We work under the Commonwealth Work Health Safety Act 2011. That's the relevant piece of legislation in our jurisdiction that we administer. As we're a national regulator, a regional Comcare inspector's findings or improvement recommendations, etc. at local workplaces can be shared and implemented at other workplaces of that PCBU across the country. This is a benefit of being a national regulator.

However, an ongoing challenge for us is to be consistent in our regulation and decision making. Often there's one national Work Health Safety point of contact that we engage within an organisation at a head office. And if we do something in Western Australia that we that we don't do in Queensland or elsewhere, then the chances are that that PCBU, that employer, will call us out on that, and rightly so. OK, next slide, please. Thank you. Comcare's Work Health Safety jurisdiction includes Commonwealth departments, including the Australian Defence Force, plus 31 self-insured licensees. I'll talk more about these as we progress through it. As at 30 June 2020, Comcare's Work Health Safety jurisdiction comprised a little over 415,000 full-time equivalent employees covered under the Work Health Safety Act.

The Commonwealth departments accounted for approximately 60%, 250,000 workers, and the self-insurers are approximately 40%, about 167,000 workers. The PCBUs in our jurisdiction are predominantly large organisations that work across the country and overseas. These PCBUs have significant budgets and often dedicated Work Health Safety professionals within their staff. OK, on this slide here we've got some examples of government departments and licensees that we cover. This slide showcases a few members of our jurisdictional family, including both Commonwealth Government departments and some of the licensees. There are approximately 220 Commonwealth departments, agencies and public authorities that are regulated by Comcare.

These include some big and diverse agencies such as the Australian Tax Office, Human Services, Department of Home Affairs, Department of Defence, the civilian side of it, as well as the uniform Defence Force, National Gallery of Australia, and Australian Antarctic division. So, you can see from that, very diverse. However, this number of Commonwealth departments does fluctuate when the government decides to change the way the Commonwealth responsibilities are managed, and new agencies are formed, merged, and, or abolished, i.e. through machinery of government changes. On the right-hand side of the slide is an extract from the list of Comcare licensees. These are currently 39 self-insured licensees in the Comcare scheme.

However, since the introduction of the Work Health and Safety Act, new self-insurers are not automatically covered by the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act. At present, only 31 of the 39 self-insurers are covered under the Commonwealth Work Health Safety Act and therefore regulated by Comcare. Just to note here and to keep it simple. This list is a useful reference when querying which organisations are under Comcare's jurisdiction. And if things are going to plan today, then hopefully there'll be a copy of this link now showing or popping up in due course on the chat thread of this presentation. This is a useful reference. Self-insurers are not covered under the Commonwealth Work Health Safety Act, continue to be regulated by the relevant State and Territory regulators.

The latest self-insurer it to be granted a licence and join the Comcare scheme was Ramsay Health, with approximately 30,000 employees. However, as with seven other licensees, eg. Bankwest, DHL Express, Virgin Australia, etc. Ramsay Health is not regulated by Comcare. This can cause confusion. If you refer to the column on the right hand side of the self-insured licensee page, there is a column there and if there's     a tick in the column that says, Covered under Work Health Safety Coverage, that means they're in the Comcare scheme and within our jurisdiction for Work Health             Safety. That is where we send people to that website with that list, with the first questions of who's in Comcare's jurisdiction and not, as per the self-insured licensees.

If you note in the sides, the prevalent types of industries within the licensee groups are telecommunications, transport and logistics, and finance. And             there is a logic to this. As I understand it, pre-2012, these national PCBUs could apply to enter the Commonwealth jurisdiction, as it was back then, OHS. If they were in direct competition with a government-owned or former government-owned business, it was deemed unfair that such organisations should have to incur a financial cost of complying with eight different State and Territory safety laws, when one of their competitors only had to comply with one Commonwealth OHS law. The competition test decision did not rest with Comcare, it rested with the Minister of Employment.

And if we think about this, you think of Australia Post, in the logistics business, their competitors would also be transporting goods around Australia, eg. Linfox, TNT, and Border Express. If you think the Commonwealth Bank, they'd be versus the National Australia Bank. Think Telstra, the telecommunications industry, you can think of Optus, and Vision Stream, coming under the competition test. It's also worth noting that we have one of the major construction companies in our jurisdiction, John Holland. To be fair, John Holland is the only construction company directly within Comcare's jurisdiction. To my knowledge, John Holland entered Comcare's jurisdiction under the John Holland Group banner, that includes their rail department, and therefore they would have had a case to put forward of competitive disadvantage versus Australian Rail Track Corporation, which is a government-owned business.

I hope this has given an insight into Comcare's jurisdiction and the organisations that we cover. Contractors to these organisations add another dynamic or level of complexity to the reach of our jurisdiction, eg. transport companies routinely subcontracting to other smaller transport entities. In summary, there's a lot of scope for contractors to conduct work for the Commonwealth and, or our licensees. And this highlights the importance of us working together. Next slide, please. So, bit of a photo board here, a selection of photographs further reflecting the    diversity and extent of our jurisdiction. As you can see from there, we've got construction, as I said previously, John Holland, regularly acting as a principal contractor and engaging subcontractors to undertake works, joint ventures, and consortiums in larger projects.

We cover the Department of Home Affairs, including their border protection, again, very diverse work, and operating vessels at sea. The Department of Defence, military and civilian side. The civilian side includes their estate and infrastructure group where they regularly engage contractors, principal contractors and subcontractors, and contractors for service to undertake maintenance and construction. We've also got agriculture in our jurisdiction, there are farms owned by the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation in a lot of the States and Territories. And we have Parks Australia, and the likes of the Northern and Central Land Councils, T.V. Land Councils based in the Northern Territory, running ranges at Kakadu, Uluru, and undertaking land care activities in remote and challenging environments.

Just a warning here that make the most of these pictures, because from here on the next five slides there's no pictures, I'm afraid. Next slide, please, Facilitator. OK. Jurisdictional cross-over. A lot of the PCBUs that I mentioned earlier use contractors. So, Commonwealth PCBUs use contractors who are inevitably State or Territory PCBUs, thus creating the dynamic work environments that we're faced with. The contractors' control of the work activity can range from very low to very high, from minor maintenance versus specialist high-risk work. Communication between regulators is important to establish the extent of each PCBU's influence and control. This will enable each regulator to scope an appropriate and proportionate response.

Memorandums of understanding with HWSA and other regulatory agencies help us in this regard. In the 2019-20, financial year, approximately 33%, so one in three of our instant notifications received by Comcare involved a contractor or a subcontractor. Contractual arrangements, per se, are not unique to the Commonwealth jurisdiction. But in these situations, we need to be mindful of the separate and joint duty holders and their jurisdiction. None of us, being Work Health Safety regulators, want to let any work health safety issues or risks go unchecked. When State or Territory contractors are undertaking work for the Commonwealth, then it's likely that we both have skin in the game. And no use at the HWSA level, collectively, between Work Health Safety regulators, assist us with that information sharing.

But information sharing and jurisdictional cross-over is not unique to work health safety. There's potential for jurisdiction overlap with regard to rail, road, and aviation incidents. Hence, we have MOUs, not only at the collective level, for example, with the rail regulator, Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator at the HWSA level, but also I'm aware that Comcare and other work health safety regulators have bilateral MOUs, eg. with the heavy vehicle regulator and in some occasions with the police. So, examples of contractor work. So, a rhetorical question here, who would be the regulator that is responsible in these circumstances?

None of us want to be left with both of us pointing at each other with the old, “It's them, not us,” scenario. So examples of some contractor work, basic maintenance, cleaning and grass cutting, specialist work, specialist removal, high-risk electrical works, labour hire scenarios, particularly with drivers and call centre staff, very prevalent in those industries, and major construction and infrastructure upgrades, principal contractors. There's no one size fits all, each incident and concern must be assessed on its own merits. As I mentioned earlier, the variety of potential contractual work arrangements can lead to some interesting and dynamic work environments that can take some unpacking to understand where actual control and influence lies.

So, to start off here, I'll acknowledge the source of this information, this was Comcare's guidance to contractors and subcontractors under the Work Health Safety Act. So, duty of care owed by the Commonwealth PCBU to contractors is subject to the level of influence and control that the Commonwealth PCBU has over the specific work activities being undertaken by the contractors while on site. It's as simple and as complicated as this. There can also be a risk of over-reach, that is a PCBU dictating too much to a specialist contractor, therefore taking on more control and influence than is necessary. Influence and control. If contractors perform a specialist role, eg. high-risk electrical works, where part of the workplace is restricted to contractor access only, the Commonwealth PCBU has less capacity to influence the work activities.

With this type of scenario, the Commonwealth PCBU could still have control over things such as access and egress, power supply, induction, emergency response, etc. To the second point, if work involves general building maintenance of a non-specialised nature, eg. cleaning or replacing light globes, then the Commonwealth PCBU have more influence and control over the activities. As it states, in this type of scenario, the Commonwealth PCBU has more control, with regard to directing the work activity. Before I move on, I want to stress again the importance of dialogue and consultation between regulators in these scenarios. We must work together to establish which PCBU had primacy of control, and which regulator takes the lead. Such decisions should be documented for transparency and for future proofing from an external scrutiny perspective.

OK, just move on now to our Major Infrastructure Projects team, and also major infrastructure projects, these are workplaces where there is inevitably a lot of engagement of contractor labour and contract companies to undertake the work. So from Comcare's perspective, as a way of a bit of background, we've seen an increase in major projects and construction across Australia. Several major Commonwealth funded construction projects are underway. The increase in volume and complexity of works places a strain on inspectorate resources. The construction industry has a projected growth of 2.4% in the next five years. According to job vacancy data, John Holland is one of the top five employers within the industry. Due to the high-risk work and interactions with State regulators, major projects require a significant amount of proactive meetings and briefings in relation to their projects.

Some of these projects are 24/7 in their operation, they're high profile and attract media, union, and political attention. Some projects examples, predominantly at this time are in Sydney and Melbourne. So, for John Holland, we have the Sydney Metro Tunnel Project, the Sydney Football Stadium, and in Melbourne, the Metro Tunnel. And I'm aware that my colleagues in both New South Wales and Victoria have undertaken a lot of work, joint inspections with both New South Wales and Victorian Work Health Safety Regulators. So, Commonwealth funded projects on the go at this time on the horizon are the Snowy Hydro 2.0, the new Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek, and the Inland Rail project. So, the purpose of the team is increasing the presence and visibility of Comcare on construction work sites.

We want to ensure measurable performance over time and provide more effective regulation targeted at the matters of highest risk and ensure our regulatory activity is aligned with our State regulators. The focus is more regular site visits, greater assurance of the operation and effectiveness of safety systems on major projects, and a focus on construction projects and hazards, in particular, silica, working from heights, electrical safety, moving plant equipment, and excavations. And I understand that the implementation of a Major Project Team aligns with what a number of other work health safety regulators around the country are doing to focus on the increase in work and to tap into some specialist skills and reduce the burden on the broader inspectorate team.

So, the team started in November, inspectors in Melbourne and Sydney, as I said, that reflecting the large projects in those States. New recruits have experience in construction and engineering. And we've also tapped into the experience of some existing Comcare inspectors. And that'll help with not only the understanding of those projects, but also understanding of Comcare's processes, systems and governance, etc. The team will improve awareness and knowledge on construction for Comcare more broadly. That'll be sharing their experience and knowledge with the broader inspectorate group, potentially secondments and helping out where we have other major projects as they arise in different States and Territories around the country.

These resources are in addition to existing inspectorate teams. We're going to talk a little now on Comcare's regulatory priorities, current regulatory priorities for 2020-23. I apologise for the busy slide and acknowledge that's a complex diagram. Comcare has developed this prioritisation model to identify regulatory priorities for use in planning and delivering national and regional engagement activities. This is a risk-based, structured and measurable approach. Our previous approach to our regulatory plans were one-year campaigns. And following some reviews, we found that there was not enough time to change behaviour. They were hard to measure, we wanted to see the effect of our regulatory effort. So, we moved to three-year plans, we want to measure, we want to improve, we'll review the outcomes or improvements.

So, to explain the model, we have internal and external inputs. And these inputs can come from a variety of sources from Safework Australia priorities, HWSA priorities, from Work Health Safety forums that we undertake and the feedback we get from them, from ROG staff from Comcare's inspectorate, from our environmental scans that our risk analysis team do, and from any sources from lessons learned and from HSR's and unions, all goes into the melting pot to be analysed. Following the analysis, we settle on our priorities and the desired outcomes. So once the priorities are chosen, we then set up a plan on how we're going to achieve our desired outcomes over the three-year period. Can we go to the next slide, please, Facilitator?

As a result of the inputs as per that complex diagram that I just had up there. As a result of the inputs into there and the analysis, the Regulatory Operations Group within Comcare have identified four key regulatory priority areas for Comcare. And these are contractor management, transport industry body stressing, psychosocial impacts of organisational change, and work health and safety management systems. So, the plan with these is in a multi-year activity plans for each priority are outlined in the program of work. So, for year one, we establish a baseline of compliance rates via proactive site visits with targeted agencies. Whereby identifying any gaps using workbooks developed by inspectors.

So, the year two, would be targeted education and engagement phase, potential webinars, and these have been successful during safety months, and safety month promotions, we could use presentations and highlight best practice and what good looks like. So, the education engagement phase, enhancing the capability, giving our PCBU the tools to improve. The third year, we'll conclude with compliance review phase to establish the effectiveness of the activity plan. And in that year, the year three, we are able to use our regulatory tools if required. So, I just expand a little bit more on some of the rationale for these priorities. So, for contractor management, this was selected due to an increase year-on-year of incident notifications and concerns being raised relative to State and Territory contractors.

And as I said, 30% of notifications to us involve State and Territory contractors. And contractor management is regularly raised at Work Health Safety forums, and in general feedback when we're doing our external outreach provide information and advice type activities. Transport industry and body stressing. This was chosen mainly due to the injury claims data that supports it. And if we think of the logistics and transport industry, they are as an ageing workforce doing sedentary work. And we know that the transport industry has a significant presence in our jurisdiction. The psychosocial impact of organisational change. We have recurring claims in relation to psychosocial injuries, it can be low in numbers, but are disproportionate in their cost.

We found that previously with machinery of government changes, so where departments merge and generally change the organisational structure. Some of these departments have not been good at managing these changes. And this has resulted in a legacy of increased claims for psychosocial injury, so we're going to put a bit of focus in there. Work Health Safety management systems. The driver here was Comcare's audit team's findings, noting that a number of entities that do not have a Work Health Safety management system, are using a piecemeal approach which is not effective. For example, a              motivated and engaged Work Health Safety manager leaves because there's no system, their intellectual knowledge and information is lost, and the organisation needs to start all over again with an ad hoc approach to safety management.

So, our approach is transparent to the organisations that we target, we will be writing to them. So, a letter from the CEO introducing sort of the why and the wherefores, of Comcare engaging with them under these priorities. Following the campaign, we'll conduct surveys and evaluations of our process and get feedback from the organisation to see how we can improve. We also engage with our media comms and promote and highlight these priorities through social media. So, the Covid impact on these plans has been basically to limit the face-to-face interaction, as well as reducing the regulatory burden on PCBUs. So, it's proposed that the regulatory priority compliance workbooks that were to be undertaken by inspectors out in the field, are now to be completed via a desktop review for 2020-2021.

That's the approach we're going to be taking. OK, not sure how I've been going for time there. But just to close and wrap up, a bit of a summary. Hopefully, what I've been able to get across today is to raise an awareness of Comcare's jurisdiction, give some examples of when and where Commonwealth and State and Territory regulators will need to consult to establish jurisdiction and who has primary control. Also, an introduction to our major projects team and our regulatory priorities. Before we go to questions, I would like to acknowledge and thank the background support team and the enablers for making this presentation happen. Anyone who knows me understands that technology makes me nervous, and I should be well supported in this project. So, thank you. So happy to move on to some questions or discussion now, Facilitator?

Facilitator:

Great. Great work there, Tom. There are a few questions in there for you, and one's around regulating Commonwealth organisations when they do work overseas? Jason has already said that, yes, there is a provision, are there any examples that you can tell us about, Tom?

Tom:

Thanks, Facilitator. Off the cuff, no examples that I particularly can refer to, but I know we have done them. Think of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, they're literally based over in the embassies in all parts of the world. So, they are workplaces under our legislation, so I know we've had some interaction there. The Home Affairs with detention centres, there's those scenarios, those sorts of workplaces, as well. A lot of our organisations have that overseas presence.

Facilitator:

Yes, and some of the issues they contend with there is that the local standards often vary quite a bit. So, in the embassy, the contractors that may be providing services might be meeting the local standards, which are not the same as the Australian standards.

Tom:

Yes, again, and you have not only, we have defence that go overseas and there are some exemptions, etc, with some of the work that our uniformed services do      overseas. However, there is a big contingent of civilian defence workers that go overseas, as well, in those infrastructure support and enabling roles. And yeah, the dynamic workplaces, in those environments, as well, not only, to the Territory to Commonwealth, but you're talking again, sovereign States and different countries' contractors. So complex as well.

Facilitator:

Someone's called out John Holland, there, being that it's a big organisation, have we had to bring in construction specific inspectors to work with them?

Tom:

Yes. So, the Major Infrastructure Projects team has a mix of ongoing Comcare inspectors that have been with been with us for some time. And we've recruited some external inspectors with the relevant construction and engineering experience to bolster that team, and again, to enhance them, increase our capability and share their experience more broadly.

Facilitator:

And there's a question just wanting to clarify does Comcare take the lead on                      Commonwealth funded major projects?

Tom:

Does Comcare take the lead on Commonwealth funded major projects, so if we think of, and I'm not dealing with the Snowy Hydro project, however, that's a Commonwealth funded project, there will be principal contractors and contractors engaged underneath to do that work. So whether we take the lead would depend on, I suppose, come down to those questions about control and who has primacy of the activity at the time, but from the outset of an announcement of a major Commonwealth project like that, we look to getting involved with the key players. And then as it's developing, and principal contractors, partners, joint ventures, etc, are being created. We have that ongoing dialogue so that when there are, you know, the first bit of soil being turned, so to speak, we've got an idea of that workplace, the environment and who the relevant points of contact are.

Facilitator:

Great. And there's one around silica, is that a big issue for our jurisdiction? And Jason's already put in a bit of a reply there, which is around it's definitely an emerging risk with the construction, particularly happening around John Holland. Is there anything you want to add there, Tom?

Tom:

I know that in New South Wales, my colleague, Bev Smith that is now the senior director with us, has been quite often briefing the other regional directors on the impacts of silica in the tunnelling work that's going on in New South Wales, particularly the type of stone there, and the high risks associated with that. A lot of research being done, health monitoring, very much prevalent to those major projects that I alluded to.

Facilitator:

Nice. With a lot of organisations now working from home, you know, we've been through the onset of Covid pandemic, is there anything you want to talk about the implications for Comcare?

Tom:

For Comcare, as the employer, it's thrown up challenges as well as it has for everyone else. And, you know, huge shout out to our HR and technology teams for enabling us to work from home, and we're very fortunate to be in that position. Our Work Health Safety team from Comcare, as well, supporting us. But certainly, a lot of our jurisdiction, a lot of the workers within our scheme will be working from home. And it's an emerging risk for us as a regulator, and I think that'll go across the board for all regulators. I don't know if we'll ever go back to the numbers we saw before Covid of office work. So you know, incidents are starting to come through and I know of one or two incidents that occur at work at home, which is now the workplace, and it's throwing up some challenging questions, as would, you know, the gig economy and a lot of those, how the dynamic workplaces is, and we've got to adapt to that.

Facilitator:

Absolutely. And Comcare's had to step in quite rapidly as with many other jurisdictions around providing information and guidance for organisations, particularly in the Covid world, one of the challenges we've certainly experienced as Comcare, crossing State borders, is where there are different Covid restrictions in different States to make sure that our advice doesn't conflict, or is at least able to be interpreted in harmony with the local regulations.

Tom:

Yeah, look, and I'll probably give a shout out to our policy team in that regard. They've done a lot of work in that space. And you know, the hits on our Covid webpage were through the roof, people were really hungry for that information.

Facilitator:

Yes. There is a question around some of the practical things that we're doing with the transport industry?

Tom:

OK, thank you for that. The transport industry, I would imagine all the Work Health Safety regulators, our compliance and enforcement policy goes from providing information, advice and supporting, monitoring and compliance, through to enforcement. So, we tackle the problem using all tools that are available on that spectrum. However, the provide information, advice, education and assistance side of our work is very important to us. And I'm aware that where we find issues in the industry that are not just particular to one employer, one PCBU, we will tap in to the experience and the representatives we've got from other companies, and we do call them Community of Practice events, where we bring in either safety managers from a variety of organisations for a roundtable to unpack particular problems, whether that's trailers unhitching, whether that's body stressing, the Community of Practice is what we call those events.

So, those are some of the stuff we're doing to that enhancement, and in trying to get the organisation to be aware of best practice. Some organisations are further forward on that than others. But they're quite generous to share that. So that's coming back to our priorities, the body stressing, that's what we'll be looking at in that second year, we'll go out and do that benchmarking. And in that second year, we'll be looking at what materials and information can we put out there and share with the entities in our jurisdiction to help them improve their, reduce their injuries, improve their compliance rates, and make their workers healthier at work.

Facilitator:

Yeah, and I have to say, having gone along to some of those events, that it seems that even where they are transport businesses that are in direct competition with each other, sometimes it's the safety issues that enabled them to actually communicate and cut through the commercial interests to just go, well, how do we make the industry itself safer. So they'll share some of their secrets, some of the learnings, which probably have a commercial value, but it seems that safety, quite often, if it's approached in the right way, and that's really the frame, that they seem to be able to have that conversation and focus on safety as the issue, not as competition as the issue.

Tom:

Definitely, yeah.

Facilitator:

So that was transport. I've got another one here, virtual inspections. Tom, do you know if we've been doing any virtual inspections?

Tom:

We've certainly done some virtual activity; I'm trying to think of inspections. We've certainly had to change the way that we do things. Personally, in this region, we've not done a virtual inspection. We have had some support from external engineers, etc. and used a virtual site visit. So that's occurred, but I'm not sure yet whether we've done any virtual inspections.

Facilitator:

Drones flying in with LiDAR to do that sort of stuff. Might be the inspector of the future.

Tom:

It's on the cards, I mean, like you say, legislation, this pandemic showed us how quickly things can change when they have to change. So some of the old rules, the rules we work with evidence gathering, etc. and presentations and physical attendance at court, all these things, I'm sure through this disruption, will be reviewed, and I think inspections will be in that same bucket.

Facilitator:

Well, terrific. Thanks, Tom. We've come to the end of time for questions there. There were a couple there that we haven't quite got to around engaging with Comcare, if you think the PCBU were to find out that it's looked after by Comcare, but we've responded via text to some of those.

Tom:

Same as everyone, we've got on-call inspectors 24/7 that can be contacted and can help. Quite often we receive calls and questions about who's in the jurisdiction and who's not, and we can work through it together.

Page last reviewed: 16 February 2021
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Date printed 02 Dec 2021

https://www.comcare.gov.au/about/forms-publications/transcriptions/comcare-jurisdictional-priorities-and-update