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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 22 April 2021) . . Page.. 1117 ..


Office of the Work Health and Safety Commissioner—Part 1.19

MR CAIN (Ginninderra) (4.51): The Canberra Liberals believe that workplace safety is a priority for the ACT. People are able to achieve dignity and self-reliance through work. Every single person has a right to be physically and psychosocially safe at their workplace. It is my understanding that following estimates hearings earlier this year, that WorkSafe ACT has implemented a new case management system to improve data collection and analysis. I look forward to hearing how the system will improve the data and intelligence used for enforcement. Given that compliance rates were only 24.5 per cent in 2019-20, I hope that we see improvements in workplace safety across all workplaces in Canberra. I am happy to engage with the Work Health and Safety Commissioner to understand the needs and goals of that office.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.52): I would like to take this opportunity to update the Assembly on some of the achievements of WorkSafe ACT and the ACT government in the budget period. WorkSafe ACT was established as an independent authority in July 2020. In its first year of operating as an independent regulator, WorkSafe has driven improvements to work safety culture through its compliance and enforcement activities and engagement with industry, workers and employers.

This work includes strategies to address present and emerging work health and safety risk, such as psychosocial risks; occupational violence and economic exploitation; silica dust; the safety culture in the construction sector and recommendations from the 2018 independent review; and engagement with the Work Health and Safety Council. WorkSafe has established a dedicated team of inspectors to identify hazards associated with psychosocial risk in workplaces across the ACT, including occupational violence.

In October 2020, an occupational violence networking group was initiated to gain industry and stakeholder insights. This will support the development of a framework for regulatory oversight of occupational violence. WorkSafe is also running a three-year campaign that is focused on safety in the residential construction industry. Since this campaign began in August 2020, 302 improvement notices, 92 prohibition notices and 24 infringement notices have been issued in the ACT. Work has progressed on implementing the outstanding recommendations from the 2018 independent review of ACT work health and safety compliance and enforcement arrangements. Of the 27 recommendations, 22 have now been implemented, with the remaining five recommendations being finalised.

The priorities of WorkSafe ACT and the Work Health and Safety Council are closely aligned. The Work Health and Safety Commissioner is an active member of the council. In August 2020, the Commissioner presented to the council on the psychosocial impact of COVID-19 on the workplace. The ACT government’s COVID-19 work health and safety response is based on expert national guidance from SafeWork Australia, as well as expert health advice. A series of work health and


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