Comcare has released its Work Health and Safety Year in Review 2023.

The review is an account of the regulatory measures taken to ensure workplace safety, including incident management, inspectorate activities, and educational programs.

The review covers the changes to federal work health and safety laws, particularly the amendments to WHS Regulations effective from 1 April 2023. 

These amendments focus on managing risks to psychological health, defining key terms such as 'psychosocial hazard' and 'psychosocial risk'. 

Comcare says it has supported these changes with a new suite of guidance on work demands, a major cause of psychological injury across the scheme.

In 2023, Comcare’s Regulatory Operations Group launched a proactive Psychosocial Inspection Program. This pilot engaged five scheme employers to strengthen their systems for managing psychosocial risk. 

An independent evaluation confirmed the program's success, indicating it will be expanded in 2024. 

Additionally, Comcare hosted a webinar on psychosocial safety and regulation, attracting over 1,000 participants, alongside ongoing educational offerings such as instructor-led courses and online modules.

Significant amendments to offences and penalties under the WHS Act were also implemented. 

The Work Health and Safety Amendment Act, effective from September 2023, included measures to broaden the Category 1 offence to include negligence as a fault element. 

Moreover, the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Act introduced in December 2023 resulted in a substantial increase in penalties for WHS violations. 

For Category 1 offences, penalties now reach $15 million for a body corporate, with a nearly 40 per cent increase for all other penalties.

Additionally, Comcare introduced a dedicated service to assist injured workers and families affected by workplace incidents. 

This includes a Family Liaison Officer who provides a single point of contact, aiding in the navigation of investigation and prosecution processes. This initiative aims to alleviate the challenges faced by seriously injured workers and bereaved families during enforcement actions and court proceedings.

The full report is accessible in PDF form, here.