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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4650 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

legislation 12 months ago. I think the attention and the changes that particularly the OH&S compliance review will bring to the work of WorkCover will potentially increase the work that WorkCover will do and extend some of the powers that they currently have.

It is important that, whilst we are pushing forward with this and increasing regulation around areas that WorkCover administers, we make sure that the resources that WorkCover has and the number of inspectors that ACT WorkCover employs are enough to meet the greater compliance focus with the legislation in the ACT. We are very happy to support that.

When you look at the work that WorkCover does, it is extremely extensive; it regulates all workplaces in the ACT. The organisation itself is quite small, with around 65 in total. It is certainly a small organisation when you look at the legislation it administers and the activity that it produces. If we look at their annual report, the last quarterly report showed that there had been 33,000 contacts last quarter with workplaces through advice and education. In the last year inspectors conducted a total of 4,876 visits to workplaces, covering occupational health and safety, dangerous goods, workers compensation, labour regulation and gas safety issues. In addition, the inspectors also handled over 10,500 phone inquiries.

Under OH&S, a total of 4,133 visits were made to sites operated across the industry sectors, with a major focus on construction and retail sectors. If you look at WorkCover's output, it would be very fair for the government to make sure that the resources that we are applying to this organisation enable them to do their work properly.

I think there are a number of programs which WorkCover deserve recognition for:

the make a difference program;

the health and safety month initiative, which began this year and which had 38 organisations participating;

the launch of the zero injury program, which is designed to identify those employers who can make reductions in injury rates, with the assistance of interventions from WorkCover;

the continuing education and promotion of WorkCover's compliance policy;

the 10 steps to safety initiative allowing small business to qualify for workers compensation subsidy when their risk assessment and risk management plans are completed, using the small-business toolkit-the annual target being to deliver 200 of those small-business toolkits.

So WorkCover will continue to provide and build on education, information and promotional activities over the next year. It will continue its focus on compliance and community protection services to make sure that people working in ACT workplaces are as safe as they can be.

I would like to also welcome the new commissioner, Erich Jannsen, who began earlier this month, and I look forward to working with him to make sure that WorkCover builds on their very good reputation and that his work is supported through the government ensuring that our legislative reform is resourced to the capacity that enables WorkCover to do their job properly.

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