Comcare safety survey

Monday, 19 January, 2009

In recognition of the vital role health and safety representatives (HSRs) play in ensuring employee safety in the workplace, Comcare recently completed a review of its support mechanisms for HSRs.

The review took place between April and October 2008 and involved internal and external consultation with stakeholders, including an online survey of HSRs. Comcare also performed a scan of state and territory regulators to assess other forms of support for HSRs and gather examples of better practice.

Comcare directly approached a number of employers and unions in the jurisdiction to gather feedback about Comcare’s support for HSRs. Participation in the survey was voluntary. In total, more than 800 responses to the survey were received.

A summary of responses to the survey indicates:

  • HSRs find Comcare’s online resources helpful for performing their role despite being used infrequently by HSRs.
  • HSRs have a high level of confidence in their ability to affect health and safety outcomes and feel their role is vital to ensuring safety in the workplace.
  • Though few HSRs have been in contact with a Comcare employee or investigator, confidence in Comcare is high. Most HSRs believe Comcare is approachable and can help them with information and advice. They also believe that Comcare values the work they perform in the workplace.
  • Most HSRs said their employer encourages them to undertake HSR training and are generally supportive of the work they do. Only a very small number of HSRs felt that they do not receive this support from their employer.
  • HSRs felt the accredited training they did was useful and are very satisfied with the resources provided to them by trainers to assist them in the workplace. HSRs also believe they are very well informed of their statutory powers.
  • On the whole, HSRs believe the support they receive from Comcare is satisfactory. Most HSRs believe they have a thorough understanding of the regulatory framework underpinning their functions and powers and the efficacy of these for ensuring a safe workplace; however, a significant number reported having less than satisfactory knowledge of the OHS legislation.

Next steps

The survey results pointed to several changes in the way Comcare currently assists HSRs. Areas which Comcare will be working on to improve its support for HSRs include:

  • will be made more user friendly for HSRs. This will encourage more visits by HSRs and improve knowledge sharing between the regulator and HSRs.
  • Opportunities for greater contact between HSRs and Comcare will be developed, as this will help increase awareness of Comcare’s regulatory activities, particularly in support of HSRs.
  • Additional training opportunities for HSRs to better address knowledge of the OHS Act will be identified by Comcare and promoted to interested HSRs and their employers.
  • The accessibility and clarity of guidance material issued by Comcare will be reviewed concurrently with the redevelopment of the Comcare website.
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