Legislative Council: Thursday, February 09, 2023


Work Health and Safety

The Hon. R.B. MARTIN (15:00): My question is to the Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector. Will the minister please update the council on the development of a new work health and safety and injury management strategy for the public sector?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:00): I thank the honourable member for his very important question and his ongoing and continuing interest in the area of worker safety. The South Australian public sector aims to be an employer of choice and strives for the highest standards of leadership when it comes to ensuring safety and healthy workplaces. In this respect, the public sector has implemented successive safety strategies over many years and multiple governments have aimed to improve the work health and safety and injury management of its employees.

The current work health and safety strategy for the public sector, Building Safety Excellence in the Public Sector, nominally operated from 2015 to 2022, and this strategy was aligned with Safe Work Australia's national Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-22. The objectives of Building Safety Excellence in the Public Sector were to ensure that safety is given the highest priority in the work of the public sector; assist agencies to identify challenges to health and safety and address them before they adversely impact workers; and build work environments that promote wellbeing, provide leadership, drive and safety performance to support a high-performing public sector and to enable the safe return to work of injured workers.

Agencies are responsible for implementing and maintaining work health and safety injury management policies and procedures, and may develop their own plans and strategies that address their individual risk profiles, in addition to the sector wide strategy. The Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment centrally monitors, measures and analyses safety and injury management performance across the public sector. This allows the commissioner to address emerging issues and remain responsive to agencies.

The commissioner has commenced development of the next work health and safety and injury management strategy for the public sector, which will act as a 10-year road map for the sector. The strategy also aims to be aligned with the next iteration of the national Safe Work Australia strategy. That work undertaken by the commissioner includes a YourSAy survey on priority initiatives, workshops with agency work health and safety managers, and consultation with public sector unions and workers. The strategy will also take into account emerging work through SafeWork SA. It will also consider emerging issues, including working from home arrangements.

The strategy has a focus on areas of improving analytical and reporting tools, including benchmarking capabilities. This will enable agencies to compare performance against other jurisdictions and like agencies. I look forward to the strategy being published after the consultation has concluded.