Plain speaking on mental health v nuance

Plain speaking is one of the greatest challenges of any profession. Many professionals struggle to communicate their excellent work and knowledge which has created the moves for Research-To-Practice and specialised communicators (as opposed to public relations advisers). Human Resources (HR) and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) need communications specialists, or perhaps just interpreters, if a recent article on workers compensation and mental health is anything to go by.

If we are going to achieve a successful and effective change on workplace mental health, we need to start to understand each other.

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Engineered stone and The Block

One supplier of synthetic stone products to Australia, Cosentino, is in the mainstream media after an appearance on a popular television home renovations show on the Nine Network, The Block. Several occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals and organisations have raised concerns about how the product was discussed and presented on a recent episode. The best coverage of this matter has been by an ABC television program, MediaWatch.

MediaWatch revealed the importance of listening to how dangerous products are described and how the guidance of OHS Regulators can be interpteed or manipulated.

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OHS context in many mainstream news stories, if you look

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is rarely reported on in the mainstream newspapers but every week OHS is there, adding a contect to a scandal or subtext to a public health risk. Last weekend was no different. The Guardian of September 16, 2023 reported on a review of personal relationships by BP, a prison escape, deaths from air pollution, a more relaxed approach to work, shoplifting and customer aggression, and more.

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The OHS of Working from Home remains problematic

When Australia harmonised its occupational health and safety (OHS) laws, the management focus broadened to include work, and not just workplaces.  Some “knowledge” or white-collar work can be done anywhere, and employers have often struggled to understand how to extend their OHS management systems and duties to apply to this revised or expanded system of work. Current OHS guidance on working from home is too “big picture” when employers are addressing localised decisions.

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From mindful back to careful

It seems that being “mindful” is now more commonly advocated than being careful. “Mindful” has become the equivalent of “careful”, but these words have different meanings and are not interchangeable. Occupational health and safety (OHS) laws impose a Duty of Care, not a Duty of Mind.

Much of the social media discussion on Mindful vs Careful seems to originate from parental sites or well-being advocates. One example can be found here in a discussion of a child’s reaction to each of these words.

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A rose by any other name… A discussion of “busyness”

Human Resources (HR) professionals must start thinking of worker mental health in occupational health and safety (OHS) as obligations under OHS laws are being refreshed throughout Australia. But the reverse is also true; OHS people must give HR professionals more respect than in the past. As such, new words for psychosocial hazards, job design and workload management may be needed. One of those words could be “busyness”.

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Silicosis campaign is about safety but is also about politics

The calls for banning engineered stone‘s importation are curious and likely to be acted on later this week.

Politicians, unions and some OHS associations have undertaken a risk assessment and determined that elimination is the most effective harm prevention strategy. Previous risk assessments of silicosis have been reported on in this blog for some time without banning the material. The risks have not changed even with increased inspection and enforcement. So what has changed? Politics.

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