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Follow up of management of staff occupational health and safety in schools

Occupational health and safety Schools safety Victoria
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Auditor-General’s comments

In February 2015 I released my first audit following up on audit recommendations from 2012–13. The inaugural report was the basis for further follow-up audits to verify the information agencies provided.

This report, focusing on the Department of Education and Training (DET) and WorkSafe, is the third in a series of follow-up reports that I intend to release this financial year. It provides Parliament and the community with information about improvements that DET and WorkSafe may have made in relation to my recommendations.

The 2013 audit Management of Staff Occupational Health and Safety in Schools identified weakness in systems and processes, resulting in our conclusion that DET did not hold schools to account for occupational health and safety (OHS) performance and had missed opportunities to learn from other sectors and improve schools' performance. We also found that WorkSafe could not demonstrate the impact of its workplace projects to address OHS issues in schools and had ceased regular engagement with DET. A total of nine recommendations were made with the aim of addressing the issues.

I commend both agencies for the actions they have taken to address the recommendations and underlying issues. Efforts have demonstrated a commitment to identifying more meaningful ways of implementing our recommendations.

In the context of DET being the largest employer in Victoria, it is positive that it is taking steps to improve its oversight of schools' OHS management and compliance. This is complemented by improved return to work processes assisting injured employees to return to work earlier.

As the regulator, one of WorkSafe's responsibilities is to improve workplace safety. Developing and implementing an agency-wide evaluation framework will allow it to demonstrate the effectiveness of its programs to address OHS risks in the workplace.

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