Chapter Three - People > Occupational Health and Safety > page 2 of 2
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Occupational Health and Safety

Occupational Health and Safety Reporting

Health and Safety Representatives

In accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991, Health and Safety Representatives are appointed within designated work groups across Defence. The selected representatives and deputies are trained in occupational health and safety issues and form part of the information and assistance network across Defence. New representatives and deputies continue to be selected and trained as vacancies arise.

In 2004, Defence sought concurrence from relevant unions for a one year extension to the operational life of the existing Defence Occupational Health and Safety Management/Union Agreement 2001-04. Consultation on current and future requirements and working arrangements has commenced. A new Agreement is due to be negotiated and implemented in 2006.

Notification and Reporting of Incidents

During 2004-05, 11,728 incident reports were received. Advice to Comcare is based on four categories of incidents: dangerous occurrences, incidents resulting in incapacity, in serious personal injury, and in death. Data on incidents over a three-year period is provided in Table 3.37.

Table 3.37 Incident Reporting
Reports 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
Occupational Health, Safety and Compensation Branch
Total Incident reports (1) 12,016 11,471 11,728
Required to report to Comcare
Deaths (2) 2 3 16
Serious personal injury (3) 613 635 595
Incidents resulting in incapacity (4) 571 873 373
Dangerous occurrences (5) 3,178 2,518 3,608


  1. An incident report is a record of an event that causes, or has the potential to cause, injury or illness to Defence employees or other people, as the result of a Defence undertaking. This data is not static but changes over time. This occurs because incident reports are submitted after the finalisation of Defence Annual Report figures.
  2. Comcare reportable deaths of which nine are attributed to the SeaKing accident on 2 April 2005.
  3. Serious personal injury is defined as an injury or disease in a person caused by work-related employment for which the person needs to be given emergency treatment by a registered medical practitioner, treated in hospital as a casualty without being admitted to hospital, or admitted to hospital.
  4. Incapacity is being unable to perform Defence work for 30 or more consecutive days or shifts.
  5. A dangerous occurrence is a near miss event that could have, but did not, result in incapacity, serious personal injury, or fatality.

Investigations by Comcare

Table 3.38 provides details of Comcare investigations into Defence occupational health and safety matters, undertaken over the last three years.

Table 3.38 Investigations by Comcare
Reports (1) 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
Planned investigations - 6 3
Targeted investigations 10 5 2
Reactive investigations 25 33 36
Whole of agency investigations - 2 4
Total 35 46 45


  1. Comcare undertakes four categories of investigation into Defence occupational health and safety matters: planned; targeted investigations (at specific Occupational Health and Safety concerns); reactive investigations (in response to an accident or incident); and whole-of-agency investigations (part of Comcare's three-year rolling plan).

Notices issued to Defence by Comcare Investigators

Table 3.39 provides details of notices issued to Defence by Comcare investigators over the past three years.

Table 3.39 Comcare Notices
Reports 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
Improvement Notices (1) 5 5 5
Prohibition Notices (2) 2 3 5
'Do Not Disturb' Notices (3) 3 6 4
Letter of statutory obligation (4) - - 1
Removal of plant or sample (5) - - 2
Total 10 14 17


  1. Based on incidents/occurrences that contravene the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991 or Regulations.
  2. Issued to remove an immediate threat to the health or safety of personnel.
  3. Issued for a specific period of time to remove a threat to the health or safety of personnel.
  4. Issued to individuals to inform them of a specific breach of the Act. 'Letter of statutory obligation' reports were not tracked prior to 2004-05.
  5. Issued when Comcare requires plant or substances from an incident as evidence, or to carry out testing. The two notices referred to in 2004-05 are a single investigation. 'Removal of plant or sample' reports were not tracked prior to 2004-05.

Defence Safety Awards

The annual Defence Safety Awards raise the profile of occupational health and safety related programs and recognise and reward innovation and excellence. The Defence Safety Awards for 2005 were presented to the:

  • Defence Science and Technology Organisation, for the development of the Task Safety Risk Management Program;
  • Defence Health Service, for the development of the Defence Injury Prevention Program;
  • Commander Australian Navy Aviation Group, for his Safety Management System; and
  • 1-Health Support Battalion, for their Initial Employment Trainees Injury Management Program.

Winners of the Defence Safety Awards 2005 were nominated for the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission Safety Awards. Consequently, the Defence Health Service received a Highly Commended award and 1-Health Support Battalion received a Commended award.

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