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Mental health in the workplace

Posted by Pia Abrahams on

Graphic banner from Safe Work Australia promoting the second week of National Safe Work Month 2021 which focuses on mental health in the workplace.

Safeguarding mental health in the workplace improves safety for all workers.

Mental health and psychosocial hazards are the main focus of the second week of Safe Work Australia’s National Safe Work Month. It’s part of the “Think safe, work safe, be safe” theme for 2021.

Brenniston is a 100% Australian-owned family business and the leader in Australian-made workplace first aid. We’re proudly supporting this important initiative to raise the profile and effectiveness of workplace health and safety for all working Australians.

Under work health and safety (WHS) laws, Australian businesses have a duty to protect workers from psychosocial risks as well as physical risks. The best way to do this is by applying the same risk management process used to manage physical risks, including consulting with workers. 

Safe Work Australia has a range of resources to assist businesses and workers to understand their WHS responsibilities, identify risks and manage control measures to reduce the risks.

National Safe Work Month 2021 - Mental health and psychosocial hazards

Psychosocial dangers in the workplace are related to the psychological and social aspects of the workplace, not just the physical ones.

Workers are likely to be exposed to a variety of psychological hazards and risk factors as a result of their jobs, including:

  • Job demands
  • Poor support
  • Violence and aggression
  • Remote or isolated work
  • Bullying
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Harassment including sexual harassment
  • Poor organisational change management
  • Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions
  • Inadequate reward and recognition
  • Low job control
  • Poor organisational justice

Psychologically healthy and safe workplaces

Safe Work Australia recommends workplaces use the People at Work online psychosocial risk assessment tool.

People at Work is Australia’s only validated and evidence-based psychosocial risk assessment tool with benchmarking that measures psychosocial hazards and factors. It will help your workplace identify, assess and control psychosocial risks.

People at Work is a project financed by Australian workplace health and safety regulators to give businesses and employees free tools and resources to encourage psychologically healthy workplaces. People at Work identifies the factors that influence worker psychological health and safety.

Psychological health and safety is about protecting the psychological health of your workers, in the same way that you protect their physical health.

National Safe Work Month 2021 - Prevent psychological injury

Safe Work Australia recommends four steps to preventing psychological injury at work with a risk management process that can be applied to psychosocial risks.

Step 1: Identify psychological hazards and risks

  • Talk with and listen to your workers
  • Inspect your workplace
  • Take note of how your workers interact
  • Review reports and records
  • Use a survey tool to gather information

Step 2: Assess psychological hazards and risks

Consider what could happen if workers are exposed to the psychological hazards and risks that have been identified.

Evaluate the hazards and risks. Determine how likely it is that each hazard will occur and how severe the consequences would be.

Step 3: Control psychological hazards and risks

Where possible you should eliminate the risks in your workplace. This is always the safest option.

But if that isn’t possible, minimise the risk so far as is reasonably practicable through planning and prevention.

Step 4: Review and maintain control measures

Maintain, monitor and review control measures regularly to ensure they remain effective.

Workplace processes and their inherent hazards and risks can often change depending on workloads and schedules.

Think safe by consulting your workers throughout the process. You should use agreed consultation processes such as health and safety representatives or committees.

Work safe by treating psychological hazards like all other WHS hazards and manage risks by implementing effective control measures.

Be safe by creating a WHS culture in your workplace that protects workers’ mental health.

Reference

Safe Work Australia: Week 2 - Mental health - National Safe Work Month