1000+ incidents in two years for ACT government

Mar 10 2019

 Staff at the ACT government-run Birrigai outdoor school in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve had to be given hepatitis vaccinations after coming into direct contact with treated sewage while at work.

The incident is among the more than 1000 workplace safety incidents lodged by Transport Canberra and City Services employees in just over two years.
Documents obtained under freedom of information laws revealed there were 1007 notifiable incidents lodged by directorate employees with WorkSafe ACT between April 2016 and June 2018.
The sewage incident at Birrigai in September 2017 was one of six reports made for the outdoor school during the period.
The city presentation department, which oversees the upkeep of common spaces and communal lawn mowing, reported the most workplace incidents during the time period, with 292 lodged, 89 of them in one quarter alone.
Among the incidents lodged during that time was a worker picking up litter on the side of the road being run over by their colleague shadowing them in a vehicle after the colleague used their phone behind the wheel.
Public transport operations was also high on the list with 175 reported incidents, and a further 107 for Action Buses.
Staff working for ACT Libraries made 143 reports to WorkSafe, including being subjected to abuse by members of the public.
One incident in 2017 showed an ex-labour hire employee verbally abused two staff members in separate instances over the phone.
The incident was referred to the police.
A further two staff members were abused while on the job in the same year.
While serious incidents were lodged by ACT Libraries employees, others reported to WorkSafe included "paper cuts to the finger" and a staff member that "bumped themselves on [a] stationary object".
City Services workplace safety reports also detailed high levels of abuse towards staff from the public.
"While there have been no physical injuries, there is a strong likelihood that some of these unpleasant interactions could result in mental anguish for staff," the report said.
Public transport in Canberra recorded almost 300 incidents in the two-year period.
The department implemented more de-escalation training as a result of the increased abuse.
Capital Linen Services, the government department that provides sheets and towels to hospitals, hotels and restaurants in Canberra, also recorded one of the highest amounts of workplace incidents, lodging 61 during the two-year period.
One 2017 safety report detailed an incident where the department's office flooded due heavy rain because the gutters had not been cleared regularly, and ceiling tiles fell to the ground.
Ten out of the 12 reports lodged for Capital Works took place between October and December in 2017.
Among those were multiple cases where live electricity cables and gas mains were struck by contractors during construction and bobcats tipping over while on the job.
A Transport Canberra and City Services spokeswoman said incident reports had to be lodged within 48 hours of the incident taking place.
"An accident incident report triggers a response from either the directorate's human resources or the centralised ACT government injury management team, where contact is made with the employee," the spokeswoman said.
"The employee is provided with options including whether to submit a workers' compensation claim. TCCS employees may lodge workers' compensation claims for any injury or illness which has been caused or exacerbated by their work."
While the amount paid out to workers was not revealed in the documents, out of more than 400 incidents recorded in the 2017-18 financial year, 49 resulted in workplace compensation.
The spokeswoman said because of the physical nature of work with the directorate, musculoskeletal injuries on the job were a key focus.
"Key themes including occupational violence, promoting a strong workplace safety culture, mental health and further reductions in lost-time injury frequency rates will continue to be key safety priorities for the directorate in 2019," the spokeswoman said.
Source: The Canberra Times

Last changed: Mar 10 2019 at 2:13 PM