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Preventing and managing work-related stress

Posted by Richard Forster on 2 November 2016

Recent events have shown that work-related mental injury can affect any workplace and any industry. Work-related mental injury resulting in psychological harm is the second most common cause of workers' compensation claims in Australia, after manual handling. It currently accounts for 11 per cent of workers' compensation claims in Victoria.

WorkSafe Victoria has recently released a new guidebook entitled 'Preventing and managing work-related stress.' Some of the information contained therein has been derived and adapted from the WorkSafe Queensland publication 'Overview of work-related stress.' Throughout the publication, it changes its own descriptor from being a guidebook to a handbook and then information sheets. What it does provide is comprehensive guidance on work-related stress aimed primarily at the employer but it will also be of interest to employees as well as health and safety representatives.

For those of us in Victoria who have patiently been watching the impact of Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation and guidance on WorkSafe developed material, it is interesting to note that the risk management process and diagram seems more in-step with the WHS model than previous WorkSafe guidance.

The Guidebook states, 'Stress is a widely used term and most people have some understanding of what it means'. Work-related stress is recognised globally as a major challenge to employers and the impact it has on employees' health, safety and wellbeing is significant.

Work-related stress describes an employee's physical, mental and emotional response (stress response) when they, for example, feel that their work demands exceed their abilities and/or their resources (such as time, help or support) to do their work. It may also occur when employees feel they are not coping in workplace situations where it is important for them that they cope.

The guidebook goes on to focus on three main factors that can influence work-related stress: 

a) Organisational factors;
b) Environmental factors ;
c) Individual factors.

These areas have featured in previous WorkSafe material but there is greater detail in the latest publication and some new inclusions such as incivility and early interventions (what managers need to know).
Civility is about treating others with consideration and respect and this new section covers the following headings:

  • Clarifying team rules of engagement or developing a team charter;
  • Manager role modelling;
  • Timely comments and feedback;
  • Name behaviour and initiate a frank conversation.

The guidebook reiterates the legal requirement for employers to provide as necessary, information, instruction and training:

  • To provide employees with the skills and knowledge to understand stress factors and risks associated with work related stress;
  • To all employees about appropriate workplace behaviours, how to raise health and safety issues and what the procedure is for dealing with the issue raised;
  • To supervisors about recognising and proactively addressing health and safety issues, concerns or complaints.
  • HAZCON is able to support your organisation by working with you to;
  • Devise and implement policy and procedures to dovetail with your current management systems;
  • Review existing documentation and processes for opportunities for improvement;
  • Deliver training on work-related stress to senior management team, health and safety committee and employees as appropriate.

Start the conversation by calling HAZCON on 1800 429 266.





Author:Richard Forster
Tags:Richard Forster


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