Analysis of performance against purpose 2

In 2015–16, Comcare aimed to protect the health, safety and welfare at work of workers covered by the Comcare scheme through education, assurance and enforcement. The objectives were to:

  • promote worker health, wellbeing and resilience
  • comply with federal work health and safety laws
  • prevent harm in federal workplaces covered by the Comcare scheme
  • deliver stronger enforcement and justice outcomes.

Comcare has completed a review of its approach to compliance and enforcement activities. Subsequently, a number of opportunities have been identified for improving our performance as a regulator into the future.The three key developments were:

  • a new Compliance and enforcement policy
  • a new regulatory management system and revised business processes
  • the implementation of evaluation projects that measure the effectiveness of Comcare’s regulatory activities.

Comcare’s vision is to be a leading Australian regulator which oversees a jurisdiction that is knowledgeable about its duties and obligations and is committed to compliance and best practice. Our new Compliance and enforcement policy sets out Comcare’s approach to our compliance and enforcement activities in relation to both work health and safety and workplace rehabilitation.

A further result of our internal reviews has seen Comcare commit considerable resources to develop and implement a new IT system that will support improved business processes and investments in training relevant to our regulatory operations. These enhancements will provide us the necessary tools to achieve our goal in delivering proportionate, targeted risk based regulation.

We strive to make our compliance and enforcement activities consistent, constructive, transparent, accountable and responsive. To put these principles into practice, we focus on four areas for our future activities, we:

  • are clear about our regulatory responsibilities and priorities
  • base our activities on evidence and risk analysis
  • enable the jurisdiction to take responsibility for its own compliance
  • are mindful of the impact we have on regulated entities’ operations.

Additionally, to ensure that our regulatory approach meets the requirements of our Compliance and enforcement policy and expectation of our stakeholders, Comcare has committed to evaluate its regulatory performance through assessing the impact our compliance activities are having on:

  • increasing awareness of health and safety in workplaces targeted by prevention strategies
  • improving compliance of assessed workplaces and providers with the SRC Act, WHS Act and Regulations.

The first evaluation activity conducted this year focussed on compliance monitoring through inspection and audit activities. Overall, the evaluation provided assurances that Comcare is delivering its regulatory service related to inspection and audit activities in a manner that is meeting internal operational requirements and the expectations of our regulated entities. A number of recommendations are now being actioned to ensure necessary improvements are made. Comcare will continue to implement a rolling program of evaluations to assess performance and identify opportunities for improvement for the services we deliver.

The scope of future evaluation activities will include a review of the implementation of any recommendations adopted from the previous evaluation and their effectiveness included within relevant performance reporting to the Comcare Executive.

Other activities conducted to address the objectives of promoting worker health, wellbeing and resilience, and preventing harm in federal workplaces covered by the Comcare scheme included conducting regulatory campaigns, health and safety forums, and delivering an education and training program.

Comcare’s regulatory campaigns are aimed at minimising harm in the workplace. In total 12 campaigns were undertaken during 2015–16. Campaign topics included agriculture, road freight transport, noise, electrical safety, and mental health disorders. Trends in Comcare’s incident data provided an additional basis for guidance materials.

A total of 806 registrations were received for the national WHS Forum Programme. The programme covered the legislative requirements surrounding the implementation of the Globally Harmonised System for the classification and labelling of chemicals, incident notification and simple root cause analysis as an aid to workplace injury prevention. We also presented this information to both the Small Agency Forum and Commonwealth Safety Management Forum.

Comcare’s Education team delivered 181 training sessions to the jurisdiction during 2015–16 to approximately 2087 employees. Comcare training provides participants with access to current research, description of trends, and information about legislative changes in the industry and jurisdiction. Feedback was generally positive with practical examples and activities helping to increase participants’ knowledge of the subject matter at hand.