National Safe Work Month is a time to commit to building a safe and healthy workplace, free from physical and psychological harm. This year’s theme – for everyone’s safety, work safely – encourages individuals and organisations to prioritise safety in the workplace, because protecting workers’ mental health is just as important as protecting their physical health.
The theme for Week 2 of National Safe Work Month is Working together to protect workers’ mental health.
Mental health conditions accounted for 9% of all serious workers’ compensation claims in 2020-21, a 55.6% increase since 2016-17. On average, work-related psychological injuries have longer recovery times, higher costs, and require more time away from work.
Managing psychosocial hazards at work not only protects workers, it also benefits businesses by improving organisational performance and productivity.
Identifying psychosocial hazards in the workplace
Psychosocial hazards are those that can cause harm through creating stress. While stress itself is not an injury, if it becomes frequent, prolonged or severe, stress can cause psychological and physical harm.
Psychosocial hazards at work may include:
- Job demands
- Low job control
- Poor support
- Lack of role clarity
- Poor organisational change management
- Inadequate reward and recognition
- Poor organisational justice
- Traumatic events or material
- Remote or isolated work
- Poor physical environment
- Violence and aggression
- Harassment, including sexual harassment
- Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions.
Psychological harm or injuries from psychosocial hazards include conditions such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and sleep disorders. Psychosocial hazards can also lead to physical injuries, including musculoskeletal injury, chronic disease and injury following fatigue-related workplace incidents.
Managing psychosocial hazards
As with any health and safety risk at work, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) such as employers have a primary duty to eliminate or minimise psychosocial risks so far as is reasonably practicable. It’s important to consult with workers who may be directly affected by particular psychosocial hazards and their health and safety representatives throughout this process.
Host a SafeTea event
Take the opportunity this National Safe Work Month to talk about protecting workers’ mental health over a #SafeTea chat.
For more information about National Safe Work Month go to https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/national-safe-work-month/week-2