CSIRO aspires to ‘Zero Harm’ and is committed to the safety, health and wellbeing of its people, partners, customers and the environment.

In 2016–17, 30 staff suffered an injury serious enough to prevent them working, equal to 2015–16. These injuries equate to a rate of 3.2 per million hours worked, which is a slight improvement on the rate of 3.3 in 2015–16. In 2016–17, there was a significant decrease in injuries that required medical treatment. These combined reductions resulted in a 19 per cent reduction in the Recordable Injury Frequency Rate in 2016–17 (see Figure 3.1).

Musculoskeletal injuries remain the most frequent cause of injury. Although not life-threatening, these injuries are painful and often debilitating. In 2016–17, 78 staff experienced an injury that required time off work or medical treatment, 56 per cent of these were musculoskeletal. This is a 20 per cent reduction in the occurrence of these type of injuries compared to last year. This may be as a result of the preventative programs in place, including the Wellnomics Computer WorkPace® software, and Move 4 Life training.

A key focus of our safety programs is on preventing injuries that have the potential to cause death or permanent disability. These incidents are reportable to Comcare or, in the case of radiation incidents, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). In 2016–17, there were nine incidents that were reportable to Comcare. None of these incidents resulted in serious injury, however, were extremely serious and have resulted in detailed investigations and a focus being placed on safety leadership within the organisation. Comcare issued a Prohibition Notice under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) after an incident involving an explosion at the Clayton site in Victoria in June 2017. Investigations are ongoing and, as a precaution, all processes involving flammable or explosive liquids or gases under pressure are being re-examined by teams and improvements made to safety processes as required.

In 2016–17, there were two radiation incidents that were reportable to ARPANSA. One incident was reported to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and one to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Department of Environment and Energy (Parks Australia).

Figure 3.1: CSIRO Recordable Injury Frequency Rate1, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Bar chart: CSIRO Recordable Injury Frequency Rate per million hours worked.

  • 2012-13: MTIFR - 8.2, LTIFR - 4.7
  • 2013-14: MTIFR - 10.1, LTIFR - 3.6
  • 2014-15: MTIFR - 11.1, LTIFR - 3.7
  • 2015-16: MTIFR - 7.0, LTIFR - 3.3
  • 2016-17: MTIFR - 5.1, LTIFR - 3.2

CSIRO Recordable Injury Frequency Rate.

Figure 3.2: Regulatory notifiable incidents2, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Bar chart: Regulatory notifiable incidents.

  • 2012-13: Serious injury - 3, Dangerous incident - 16, Other - 0
  • 2013-14: Serious injury - 1, Dangerous incident - 12, Other - 0
  • 2014-15: Serious injury - 3, Dangerous incident - 8, Other - 2
  • 2015-16: Serious injury - 4, Dangerous incident - 6, Other - 0
  • 2016-17: Serious injury - 1, Dangerous incident - 8, Other - 5

(Other includes APRANSA, CASA, ENV, AG)

Regulatory notifiable incidents.

Health, Safety and Environment Strategy

In 2015–16, the CSIRO Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) 2020 Plan was developed to support the CSIRO Strategy 2020. In 2016–17, HSE staff worked with the Business Units and support staff to advance the programs and achieve cultural change by empowering staff to be safety leaders. Ninety-eight per cent of staff completed the online safety induction Starting with your Safety, and case-study-based training was rolled out for leaders.

Another key achievement was the implementation of a much-improved incident and hazard reporting and tracking tool called Lookin2it in May 2017. The online tool was developed to be simple and easy to use to encourage reporting of issues so that early and effective prevention could be achieved. Significant progress was also made in other key areas of the HSE 2020 Plan and these will be finalised in 2017–18. These include:

  • global safety principles that will apply to all CSIRO’s operations globally
  • wellbeing framework that supports a ‘whole person’ approach
  • simplified procedures and systems that are easy to understand and use.

The development of these is underpinned by two guiding principles:

  • Tools and processes to effectively manage key risks are developed with end users (our scientists/technicians/support staff).
  • Strong HSE partnerships are developed with other CSIRO support teams and the science businesses.


  1. The Recordable Injury Frequency Rate is calculated as the sum of Lost Time Injuries per million hours worked plus the Medical Treatment Injuries per million hours worked.
  2. The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 came into effect on 1 January 2012, changing the criteria that determine which incidents must be notified to Comcare. This change accounts for much of the steep decline in notifiable incidents during 2011–12 and 2012–13.

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