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Better work-related psychological health and safety

Posted by Richard Forster on 26 June 2018

Health promotion, intervention and support in the workplace has received a big boost with the publication of new guidance material by Safe Work Australia. It is entitled 'Work-related psychological health and safety - A systematic approach to meeting your duties.' Whilst it is aimed at jurisdictions with Work health and safety (WHS) legislation in place, there is much to like and could be considered by Victorian and Western Australian workplaces.

Using a thorough and systematic approach to preventing harm and supporting recovery where harm may occur, or is occurring, can have significant business benefits including:

  • decreasing business disruption and costs from work-related psychological injury;
  • improving worker motivation, engagement and job satisfaction thus increasing productivity, reducing absenteeism and turnover that may ultimately help your organisation to achieve its business goals; and
  • enhancing your reputation as an employer of choice.

The suggested systematic approach uses the following three elements to help meet legal duties and improve an organisation's approach to preventing psychological injury and supporting recovery:

  • Prevent harm;
  • Intervene early;
  • Support recovery.

Each of the above elements are explored and explained in the new guidance. It also includes important actions that should be occurring throughout the three stages and on an ongoing basis:

  • ensuring there is good work design and safe systems of work;
  • ensuring the effective control of hazards and risks and the monitoring and reviewing of controls;
  • ensuring that workers have the training, information and supervision to do their job safely and well;
  • consulting with workers and their health and safety representatives and consulting, co-operating and co-ordinating on any health and safety risks with all relevant people; and
  • ensuring you, your leaders and management commit to WHS, including things required under WHS that demonstrates due diligence and the need to be proactive.

These actions can be supplemented by other, optional activities to promote good general physical and mental health. It is worth noting that whilst there is no specific requirement to implement workplace health promotion and wellness programs, the implementation of appropriate well-run programs is considered best practice. The guidance also states that 'fostering a people-oriented organisational culture through supportive management can aid in the prevention, early identification and management of mental health conditions in the workplace.'

The guidance also lists resources, tools and other support services along with a comparison scenario of compliance versus best practice approaches that will add to the body of knowledge.

For further information: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/work-related-psychological-health-and-safety-guide-published

Author: Richard Forster
Tags: Richard Forster

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