Managing our health, safety and security obligations
The health, safety and security (HSS) requirements and duties that MSD operates under are set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (the HSWA) and the Government’s Mandated Protective Security Requirements (PSRs). Our policies and procedures give effect to those requirements and duties. We regularly review our approach to health, safety and wellbeing to ensure it is consistent with good practice, including WorkSafe guidance.
Our Health, Safety and Security Policy is reviewed and refreshed every two years in consultation with our National Health and Safety Committee and reflects the current areas of strategic focus. Other policies support the control and management of our critical HSS risks (for example, responding to harmful behaviour), or set out our response to statutory obligations or whole-of-government directives (for example PSRs). Procedures and guidelines support decision-makers to implement policy effectively, or to deal with scenarios requiring judgement and discretion.
In May 2021 we adopted a new policy outlining how we will work with external parties and manage overlapping duties of care. The policy informs the induction process for contractors coming on to MSD sites, and supports consultation, co-operation and co-ordination on matters affecting health and safety. A working group has reviewed contractor management and procurement and developed a new pre-qualification system for maintenance contractors. The results of this working group have been embedded into our procurement processes.
Health, safety and security on sites
Our security consists of a number of features to ensure the safety of staff. It is designed around the principles of detect, deter, delay and respond, and underpins operational decisions that impact staff safety. This includes site safety plans and drills, a guard model, controlled access, client risk assessments, mobile pendant alarms, and regular site visits by senior HSS advisors.
Security Assurance Programme
Under our Security Assurance Programme, we have established a baseline standard of security for every client-facing site to ensure that we meet our obligations under the HSWA and the PSRs. The programme also lets us track the maturity of the security ecosystem as we roll out new security programmes. We review each of our sites under the programme annually.
Our sites undertake a self-assessment to ensure that HSS standards are met and maintained; this allows us to identify which sites require more work. The assessment involves input from management, union, and other nominated employee representatives. This assures us that all our sites are meeting our standards.
Service Centres for the Future
This national programme of work focuses on rolling out a new zoning model for our service centres across the country. We are enhancing the security layout in all our service centres, incorporating new spaces and technology.
We have 42 sites with a new zoning layout, with a 60 more in progress, despite delays due to the impact of COVID-19 and resulting lockdowns.
Learning from incidents
We have continued to embed our approach to investigations as a response to major or severe HSS incidents. Over the past year our team of senior regional HSS advisors has conducted a range of investigations with a focus on what we can learn or change to make people safer, and as a prevention strategy to minimise the likelihood of incidents being repeated. These investigations provide an opportunity to improve processes and systems.
Health and safety incidents, July 2019 to June 2021
This table reports the number workplace health and safety events entered into our STAR (Security, Threats, Accidents, Risks) database, including office-based, working-from-home and off-site incidents.
|Type of event
|Pain and discomfort
|Accident and injury
|Near miss and hazard
The increase in reported events in 2020/21 can be explained through both a significant increase in staff numbers and increased reporting of near miss and hazard events.
Supporting our people to be health and safety champions
We work closely with the PSA to encourage worker participation in HSS. A Worker Participation Agreement provides for the establishment of Health and Safety Committees in all workplaces, and a National Health and Safety Committee that provides a voice for workers and the PSA on the overall state of health, safety and wellbeing within MSD.
Health and safety representatives
We are committed to actively supporting our network of health and safety representatives (HSRs). All newly elected HSRs receive training that equips them to fulfil their roles under the HSWA, with ongoing training that incorporates a mix of formal and informal development opportunities. We produce a monthly newsletter for HSRs and encourage networking and sharing of good practice. Since 2019 we have celebrated the achievements of high-performing HSRs with an award presented by the Chief Executive.
Supporting our staff through elevated COVID-19 alert levels
In 2020 we developed guidelines for implementing COVID-19 alert level protocols to ensure that we were able to operate effectively and safely throughout the COVID-19 response. These guidelines were deployed throughout the various alert level elevations in 2020/21.
We employ a range of methods to provide assurance that our guidelines and protocols are being implemented as intended. This includes readiness checklists for sites’ use when reopening, staff pulse checks, visibility of compliance and issues through Health and Safety Committee meetings, and frequent engagement with the PSA.
To support managers who have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 amongst their teams, we have:
- developed a checklist to ensure consistent and accurate data is provided
- put in place processes for how to deal with staff who may have been in contact with an infected person
- established protocols for closing and cleaning sites
- set up data capture, monitoring and weekly ministerial reporting.
Improving our systems
Our HSS notification system, STAR assists with compliance with our responsibilities under the HSWA and provides better visibility of risks and hazards.
The system allows all staff to enter security events, pain and discomfort reports, and accident/injury or near miss/hazard events. Staff can also report workplace issues like bullying or stress, or notify MSD of family violence issues.
In 2020/21 we introduced a number of new modules for staff to use through STAR, including site safety plans, hazard risk registers, an actions module, audit module and safety toolbox. The integration of STAR with our core client system, CMS, was successfully scoped, and development commenced. We began reviewing our system and process for when workplace issues are reported.
We have embedded and enhanced a regular cycle of comprehensive internal reporting on HSS risks. Members of our Leadership Team are Officers under the HSWA, and require regular detailed reports to gain the assurance required to discharge their due diligence duties. We have recently reframed our reporting to more specifically focus on our Officers’ duties under the HSWA.