Federal work health and safety regulator Comcare has highlighted several OHS issues, including bullying and drug and alcohol harm at work, which will be targeted as part of its work health and safety plan for the current financial year.
The plan commits to improving OHS performance of federal employers by focusing on four key priority areas: worker health, preventing harm, stronger enforcement, and a smooth transition to national work health and safety laws.
This is a major change in the way Comcare delivers its services, according to Comcare's work health and safety general manager, Neil Quarmby
Comcare's new regulation model highlights the importance of preventing workplace injuries, and Quarmby said there would be a strong commitment to stopping workers getting harmed in the first place.
This includes an initiative to target federal employers with poor workplace cultures with relation to drug and alcohol harm, as well as a workplace bullying campaign to address the recent growth in mental stress claims.
"We're targeting workplaces where bullying is just ‘how things work', and we'll be working with employers where alcohol harm is a known risk in the workplace," said Quarmby.
"We're sending the message that it's not okay, that it's unacceptable."
Harmonised work health and safety laws due to start on 1 January 2012 are also a major priority, and Comcare said it will retrain its inspectors to exercise new powers under the laws, such as providing assistance to victims and families involved in workplace harm.
Harmonisation will reduce red tape on a national level, said Quarmby, who added that it will help regulators such as Comcare improve the way it deals with workplace incidents.