Scheme performance - Overview
The Comcare scheme
We administer the Commonwealth's statutory framework for rehabilitation and workers' compensation, the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act), and we are the national work health and safety regulator under the federal Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).
- has functions and responsibilities under the Asbestos-related Claims (Management of Commonwealth Liabilities) Act 2005
- provides expert advice and services to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) (read about licence conditions); and the Seafarers Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Authority (Seacare Authority).
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Comcare works with employers, employees and other stakeholders to improve work health, prevention, safety and rehabilitation outcomes. Our aim is to make workplaces safer and healthier through prevention of injury and effective compliance.
The most recent comparative performance data shows that Comcare has the lowest injury incidence and frequency rates of any jurisdiction.
We continue to work towards becoming a zero fatality scheme—no workplace death is ever acceptable.
Comcare also improves work health and safety outcomes including programs to encourage early intervention after workplace injury and to promote the health benefits of work.
Comcare has a compliance and enforcement role covering both work health and safety and workplace rehabilitation regulation. This role combines proactive and reactive elements. Comcare’s regulatory activities may be undertaken in response to workplace incidents and notifications, but they may also be triggered by other means such as complaints or allegations, media articles, research and reports, or Comcare’s analysis of workplace risks and hazards.
Comcare's Compliance and Enforcement Policy details our regulatory approach.
Incident notification data is correct at the time of reporting however is subject to change. As enquiries are conducted and further information becomes available, a notification assessment may change, and/or the notification no longer be considered a notifiable incident under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Comcare conducts an annual program of work health and safety system audits to identify positive aspects of the systems in place and highlight any deficiencies that need to be addressed.
Our safety system audits use a range of audit tools and templates.
In addition, Comcare recorded over 3,000 authorisation activities and approval decisions in 2022–23, to ensure high risk work is only undertaken after the suitability of persons, things or processes has been assessed. These included:
Comcare applies a range of compliance tools prior to using enforcement options. Some compliance tools are backed by legislated enforcement options, and Comcare uses these options when necessary and appropriate.
On 7 June 2017, a Kuredale Pty Ltd (t/a Metro Lintels) worker sustained serious injuries after being struck by a steel truss at the Department of Defence Swanbourne Barracks in Western Australia. Kuredale Pty Ltd (t/a Metro Lintels) pleaded guilty to two (2) counts of failing in its duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth). On 22 October 2019, Kuredale Pty Ltd (t/a Metro Lintels) was convicted and fined $75,000 in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia.
On 19 September 2016, a Newington College Cadet went missing during a training exercise at Colo, NSW. He was later found unconscious and suffered serious injuries.
The Commonwealth of Australia, acting through its responsible agency, the Department of Defence, pleaded guilty to one (1) count of failing in its duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth). On 9 March 2020, the Department of Defence was convicted and fined $300,000 at the Local Court of NSW.
On 22 July 2015 Linfox Australia Pty Ltd workers were involved in towing a damaged Bushmaster (armoured vehicle) to a recovery truck at the Department of Defence’s Damascus Barracks, Queensland. The Bushmaster rolled forward, and a worker was crushed between the vehicle and a tow motor, resulting in serious injuries.
Linfox Australia pleaded guilty to four (4) counts of failing in its duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth). On 11 October 2018, Linfox Australia was convicted and fined $200,000 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
Improving return to work outcomes remains the key challenge in the scheme. Comcare works in collaboration with employers to ensure employees receive early and appropriate treatment services and an effective rehabilitation program. Comcare also works with employers to identify flexible arrangements to maximise an employee's capacity for work. The National Return to Work Strategy 2020-2030 sets an ambitious 10-year action plan to improve return to work outcomes for workers across Australia. Comcare is working with other stakeholders to minimise the impact of work-related injury and illness and to enable workers to have a timely, safe and durable return to work.