More care needed in discussing workplace mental health and mental illness Reply

Writing about workplace mental health is a tricky task.  An article recently posted to Business News Western Australia shows how tricky it can be and how mental health can be misinterpreted as mental illness.

The headline, “Are you one of the 20% of workers that will experience a mental health issue?” clearly refers to workers but the first sentence of the article does not.  “Australian adults” are not all “workers”.

Out of the total population of around 24 million Australians, Wikipedia estimates the working-age population of Australia (15 – 64 years) at round 67% (16 million, approximately). If we apply these statistics to the headline, there are 3.2 million workers who “will experience a mental health issue”. But is this annually, over one’s working life or over a lifetime? The article does not say.

Not only are the statistics messy, so is the terminology. More…

Unfair expectations on the individual 1

Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a justifiably respected business publication but it often sells occupational health and safety (OHS) short.  A new HBR article, “Stress Is Your Brain Trying to Avoid Something“, is a case in point.

Too much of the contemporary approaches to psychosocial hazards at work focus on the individual without addressing the organisational.  This often compounds the struggles of individual workers and encourages managers to blame workers instead of analysing the organisational and cultural factors that lead to a hazard or incident. More…

5 experts in 60 minutes Reply

Host: ISCRR's Jason Thompson

Host: ISCRR’s Jason Thompson

The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) has tried a new format for its occupational health and safety (OHS) seminars.  It is not a lunch with a single presenter and it is not a Three-Minute Thesis.  It is five safety researchers in one hour, seven minutes per person and a single question from the floor – and it worked. More…

Psychologically health workplaces 3

In some of his research into the operations of WorkSafe Victoria, OHSIntros provided this graph of workers compensation claims for psychosocial issues. Not only does it show the extent of the issue in recent years, it provides a clear historic starting point for the hazard –  a hazard that has created an industry of its own and that has complicated the management of workplace safety.

Pages from Paper 3 - 30th anniversary of Victorian OHS system 2015

OHSIntros comments on this increase by saying “the conventional rationale in OHS is that when you identify and focus on a risk, the claims flood in…” but significantly states that this logic remains untested. Occupational health and safety (OHS) seems to run on untested logic.

Clearly psychosocial issues in the workplace present a problem. OHSIntros writes that in 2013-14 psychosocial claims overtook manual handling on average cost amounts of A$88,000 to A$67,000, respectively (page 11)

Recently Dr Chris Stevens of Communicorp spoke about psychologically healthy workplaces at a seminar at Herbert Smith Freehills, showing one of the current approaches to this workplace hazard. More…

Penalty rates outweighs workplace bullying 2

The attention given to the recent draft report of the Productivity Commission’s (PC) inquiry into the Workplace Relations Framework has largely died down due to the dismissal of the report by Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.  The industrial relations (IR) elements of the report generally failed to fit the Government’s IR narrative but this did not stop the usual and, probably, pre-prepared media releases from the ideological opponents and supporters.  But did those media releases comment on the recommendations about workplace bullying? Almost entirely – No. So is workplace bullying a non-issue? More…

Leadership or cowardice? 3

Few would argue against the need for occupational health and safety (OHS) regulation for high-risk work but many are arguing against OHS laws on the basis of low-risk workplaces. It seems logical that low risk work should not require laws but perhaps the traditional definition of OHS and risk is colouring our judgement. Perhaps some are making these arguments because they are afraid to change. Perhaps some of these leaders are, in fact, cowards.

New Zealand

There is discussion in New Zealand currently about exempting small “low-risk” businesses from some OHS obligations in the name of “red tape” but also on the understanding that small business seems to equal low risk.  (Similar discussions, or changes, have occurred in the UK, Australia and the US) More…

Conversation about work-related grief Reply

Recently SafetyAtWorkBlog was able to spend some time with Bette Phillips-Campbell, the Manager of GriefWork, a unit of the Creative Ministries Network in Melbourne.  GriefWork provides a range of support services to families of those who have died at work or due to work factors.

The conversation touches on issues including

  • how GriefWork operates and is funded,
  • work-related suicide,
  • worker memorials,
  • the application of restorative justice in the workplace context,
  • how a workplace death affects company executives,

The interview can be accessed at Bette Phillips Interview 2015

If you want more information about GriefWork or how you may be able to help this service, please contact Bette on (61) 03 9692 9427 or by email.

Kevin Jones

Workplace bullying report lost in the political frenzy 1

Earlier this year Victorian MP and Minister for Small Business, Adem Somyurek, was accused of bullying his Chief of Staff, Dimity Paul.  This week, Somyurek resigned from his Cabinet position but not without a press conference in which he stated that the issue was political payback and that his resignation is no admission of guilt.

As you can see from this very brief summary, party politics has infested this instance of workplace bullying, and to such an extent that the important and solid investigation report into the incident is being missed.  The reports are publicly available and deserve to be carefully considered rather than relying on some of the current media coverage. More…

Superannuation notices workplace safety Reply

Cover of ASCI Mental HealthLast week it was the Citi Safety Spotlight on ASX100, now it’s the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) with data on workplace safety and mental health of the S&P/ASX200.  The good news is the ACSI report is publicly available for download. The bad news is that the report is very limited. More…

Citi’s Safety Spotlight report discussed 1

Recently a couple of media outlets referred to a report produced by Citi into workplace safety issues related to the top 100 companies on the Australian stock exchange.  The report, seen by SafetyAtWorkBlog, “Safety Spotlight: ASX100 Companies & More” (not available online), provides a useful insight to the ASX100 companies’ safety performance but Citi also undertook several thematic analyses which are curious but not always as helpful as expected.

To read the full article, complete the contact form below stating “Please allow me access to the Citi blog article” and a password will be emailed to you, as soon as possible.