Office for the Public Sector

Policy

Audit and Verification System

The Public Sector Audit and Verification System (AVS) is part of a pilot reform integrating audit, analysis, reporting and policy to facilitate further improvements in public sector safety and  injury management performance. The public sector has withdrawn from the WorkCover evaluation process, and is instead subject to the AVS; an independent external audit and verification process which examines the effectiveness of agency policies, procedures, and systems to achieve ongoing improvement in work health and safety, and injury management.

We will provide a liaison role between agencies undergoing the AVS and the auditors to assist with planning, implementation and follow-up.

The AVS provides recommendations that inform the continuous improvement of agency safety and injury management systems. Recommendations are rated according to priority and are developed in collaboration with the agency during a corrective actions workshop. Audit outcomes are included in reports to Cabinet and annual agency reports.

Common issues identified during the course of the AVS will inform the future development of public sector strategies for work health and safety, and injury management policy.

The pilot will be evaluated by our office in late 2016.

What is different about the AVS?

The AVS requires that public sector agencies demonstrate:

  • work health and safety and injury management performance is aligned with agency business objectives and outcomes
  • safety and injury management systems are effective and have a focus on continuous improvement
  • risk management strategies are relevant to the nature and scale of agency risks
  • injured workers are effectively rehabilitated, with each agency aiming to achieve a 100% return to work rate.

The audit approach links work health and safety and injury management systems with performance outcomes. It emphasises what must go right in order to reduce injury risks and achieve early return to work. The focus is to test the agency’s safety and injury management systems to find out if they work in practice.

The AVS takes a risk-based approach which is less resource intensive, and has a significantly reduced focus on compliance which allows the public sector to cut red tape while continuing to improve performance. The AVS also has greatly reduced documentation requirements, reducing the administrative burden on agencies.

How does the AVS work?

Independent external auditors, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (Deloitte), have been engaged to provide the external auditing services to deliver the AVS. Read what Tony Morris, Lead WHS Partner, Risk Services, Deloitte has to say about health and safety at work.

The external audit will be based on a three to four year cycle. Deloitte will follow-up six months after each audit to assist agencies with any issues they may have with implementing the audit recommendations.

In addition to the external audit process, agencies must conduct an annual self-audit of their work health and safety and injury management systems. This will contribute to evidence of continuous improvement between external audits.

During the pilot program, the AVS schedule will be similar to the previous WorkCover evaluation schedule. Auditing resources will be allocated according to the size, complexity and work health and safety risk profile of the agency.

The AVS requires that Deloitte work with agencies to:

  • design an audit plan that will help agencies improve their performance
  • develop an audit scope that identifies and addresses the nature and severity of an agency’s risks
  • provide audit recommendations that identify sustainable and practical opportunities that contribute to improved safety and injury management performance.

The AVS includes non-negotiable elements that are standardised across all audits, and negotiable elements that are tailored to each agency. The non-negotiable elements are:

  • agency work health and safety management systems are aligned with the primary requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 and key elements of AS/NZS 4801:2001 (Occupational health and safety management systems, specifications with guidance for use)
  • agency injury management systems must meet the requirements of the Return to Work Act 2014
  • governance arrangements for work health and safety and injury management are integrated into broader agency governance arrangements
  • agencies demonstrate effective self-audits of their work health and safety and injury management systems.

The negotiable elements of the AVS, that are tailored to each agency, relate to identifying:

  • which of the agency’s most significant safety risks are to be prioritised for auditing
  • which additional elements of the safety management system (AS/NZS 4801:2001) the audit will focus on to inform further system development.

Deloitte will work with agency representatives to design negotiable elements of the AVS.

A protocols document is now available which provides more detail about the audit process, scope and documentation requirements. Please contact us for a copy.

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