At the end of September 2018 the Australian Psychological Society held its 2018 Congress. As conferences do, various media statements are released to generate interest in the speakers. One caught the attention of this blog. It was released on September 25 2018, and was called:
“Resilience isn’t enough to combat the effects of burnout, world renowned psychology expert says”
This sounded like it may look closely at the prevention of harm and SafetyAtWorkBlog was able to interview that world-renowned psychology expert,
Some organisations struggle to understand the prevention of harm. In September 2018 the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) released its “People Managers’ Guide to Mental Health“. The guide is intended to address
“…the whole lifecycle of employment, from recruitment, through keeping people well and managing a disability or ill health at work, to supporting people to return to work after a period of absence.” (page 3)
It includes the prevention of psychological harm but in words and phrases that are very unhelpful.
One of the fascinating elements of this year’s National Comcare conference is the conflict between the Human Resources (HR) approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) and workers compensation, and the OHS approach to psychosocial hazards. This is not the fault of Comcare as the audience is a peculiar mix of both professions.
The difference was on display when some presenters focused on the post-incident care and, almost entirely, on interventions on the individual. Other presenters focused on the prevention of physical and psychological injuries – the OHS approach. The former seemed warmly embraced by the HR professionals. There were other speakers, or parts of their presentations, where prevention was almost mentioned as an afterthought and even then omitting references to their organisation’s own OHS publications.
There has always been a structural and ideological separation of the professions
Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, has released the findings of the Commission’s latest survey on sexual harassment in workplaces. It is an important analysis of an improving dataset that should make actions to prevent sexual harassment more effective.
The statistical report is separate from the Commission’s National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces and does not emphasise the role of harm prevention but it does contain references to prevention that are worth considering.
Dr Rebecca Michalak has just published an extraordinary article calling on the Human Resources profession and many others to take a good, hard look at how they treat workers who may have been subjected to psychological pressures at work.
Human Resources personnel could feel particularly hard done by but Michalak stresses that there are many players in the process of creating and managing psychologically healthy workplace and of not adequately managing psychologically injured workers. She makes her proposition clear up front: