Mental health is a very popular topic at the moment and there are thousands of service providers in this sector. During the recent National Mental Health Week,
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.
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)
On 1 June 2015 Australia’s Radio National broadcast a discussion about the future of work, in support of a Vivid Festival conference. Listening to the discussion through the prism of occupational health and safety (OHS) is an interesting experience as work/life balance is promoted as empowering the individual but, as we know in OHS, individuals often sacrifice their safety for income or deadlines or project demands, contrary to their legislative obligations. The workplace flexibility that many people seek allows the individual to manage the workload and develop or design the working environment. In other terms they establish an unregulated workplace. So what influence will OHS have in these new and emerging workplace configurations? Probably very little.
Safe Work Australia recently released its second research paper related to developing or communicating a business case for occupational health and safety (OHS). The paper has been authored by Sharron O’Neill and is called “The Business Case for Safe, Healthy and Productive Work – Implications for resource allocation: Procurement, Contracting and infrastructure decisions“. O’Neill’s paper clearly challenges the dominant thinking of OHS and costs.
O’Neill states that the quality of previous analyses of OHS business costs have been “fundamentally poor”, partly because
“Rather than strategically examining the cost-benefit to business of work health and safety, the typical ‘silo’-driven analysis produces a narrow focus on a very different concept; the cost-benefit to business of health and safety interventions. This has obscured much of the potential for improving organisational productivity and operational decision-making.” (page 4, link added)