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Helpdesk Top Questions: June 2024

Our helpdesk was asked about improving workplace culture, reclaiming costs of risk assessment, auditing services, and billing for Irregular SIL Supports
News update
News update

TAC Small Grants are available for Victorian providers

Applications for the TAC’s annual Small Grants Program will be open from 17 June to 26 July.

Are you ready for Safe Work Month in October?

Three people in a meeting smiling while looking at an electronic tablet


What You Need to Know:

  • Safe Work Month provides a great chance to open up conversations about working safely.
  • The social assistance sector is overrepresented in work related injury statistics
  • We need to address safety for the wellbeing of the workforce, and to assist with skill development and retention.

Did you know that the rate of work-related injuries for community and personal services workers is double the national average?

October is National Safe Work month, and this year the theme is ‘For everyone’s safety, work safely’. In the disability sector, we need to keep safety in everyone’s consciousness as they approach their work every day.

Over the past 12 months NDS in Victoria has undertaken work to understand, reduce and eliminate risks associated with Occupational Violence in the disability sector, which has an aligned theme of Keeping everybody safe.

We have found the issues around Occupational Violence are complex and solutions lie in understanding the needs and wants of the people we support, having staff trained and supported with the skills to do their work well, and ensuring any workplace incidents are reported.

This reporting needs to include not only incidents where harm has occurred but also “near misses”, and all these reports need to be reviewed.

Staff need to be supported with both their physical and psychological wellbeing needs and changes made, with feedback loops to staff to help reduce risks of future incidents.

Like the theme for Safe Work Month, it is important to work together and understand how we work, and how this affects others safety in the workplace.

In February, this year NDS highlighted data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Work-related Injuries Report. Whilst the report showed that about 3.5 percent of all workers had sustained a work-related injury or illness in 2021-22, amongst community and personal ser vices workers, which includes disability support workers, the injury rate was seven percent.

These statistics also highlighted the rate and cause of injuries:

  • 24 percent lifting, pushing, pulling or bending
  • 17.3 percent slip, trip, stumble or fall
  • 11.4 percent hitting or being hit by an object
  • 5.0 percent stress or exposure to mental stress (5.0 per cent)

Although less frequent, stress or other mental health conditions led to the longest absences from work, an average of 44 days off.

Safe Work month

Safe Work month offers the chance to open up the conversation about safety at work. This includes raising awareness of and addressing both physical and psychosocial hazards and risks.

Safe Work Australia has identified an area of focus for each week in October to help frame initiatives:

  • Week 1 (1-8 October) - Working together to manage risks at work
  • Week 2 (9-15 October) - Working together to protect workers’ mental health
  • Week 3 (16-22 October) - Working together to support all workers?
  • Week 4 (23-31 October) - Working together to ensure a safe and healthy workplace

Here are some links to resources from Safe Work Australia to use to help shape your workplace campaigns to raise awareness of significant importance of safety in being able to provide high quality services for people with disability whilst ensuring the workforce has access to the tools, training, and support to worker safety.

More information and resources can be found on the Safe Work Australia website.

Other useful sources of information include:

APHIRM toolkit

The La Trobe University’s Centre for Ergonomics and Human Factors has developed a toolkit to better understand risk associated with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) which identifies both physical and psychosocial hazards associated with MSDs. The APHIRM toolkit – (A Participative Hazard Identification and Risk Management) a free cloud-based tool that contains tools and resources, can produce automated reports on hazards with industry benchmarking.

Manual handling and supporting people with behaviour of concerns

As highlighted in an article in a recent NDS news article, Scope has received a WorkSafe grant to improve safety in manual handling when supporting people with behaviour that challenges. This work is just getting underway and will help the sector to best understand how to support people well, keep workers safe and reduce risks. There will be opportunities to input into this work and use resources produced from work.

Contact information
Fiona Still, Senior Policy and Projects Officer Occupational Violence, 03 8341 4341, submit enquiry/feedback