The data for workplace mental health exists, if we demand it

Data about occupational health and safety (OHS) and work-related psychosocial injuries has often been described as being hard to find.  In some ways it is not necessarily hard to find but difficult to access.  An untapped source of data is the records of illness and leave taken that is usually held by the Human Resources (HR) departments, often named “People and Culture”or some variant.  This type of data could be invaluable in determining a workplace psychological profile, if the HR departments would trust OHS professionals more, or release this data in a format that would allow OHS professionals to assess risks while maintaining employees’ privacy.

Beware, Generalisations Ahead

In Australia, employees are usually entitled to ten days’ sick leave, five of which require a medical certificate.  This means that one of the forty-eight expected working weeks may be taken off by workers with no reason provided to the employer other than a call or a text saying “I’m not coming into work today because I am not feeling well.”  Australian slang describes this as “chucking a sickie”.  

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It’s on the books but we don’t read much

Victoria’s Trades Hall has criticised the Master Builders Association of Victoria (MBAV) over its opposition to Industrial Manslaughter laws.  The MBAV’s opposition is described as “tired” by Trades Hall in a small article in the OHS Reps SafetyNet Journal which illustrates how the gap is unbreachable.

This is what the OHS Unit of Trades Hall said about the

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Factbook, short on OHS facts

The Australia Institute has released a “factbook” about The Dimensions of Insecure Work.  It is little more than a snapshot of some of the labour situations in Australia centring on the fact that

“Less than half of employed Australians now hold a “standard” job: that is, a permanent full-time paid job with leave entitlements”

This changed demographic is significant whenever the Government or its departments and agencies take about job and employment figures.  The reliance on full time employment as the core metric should be reviewed and revised but this is likely to change our view of the world through official reports . 

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Preview of Australia’s new work-related psychological injuries guidance

Peta Miller has worked at Safe Work Australia (SWA) for around 17 years.  She leaves there at the end of June.  One of her last public appearances for SWA was the National Health and Safety Conference in Melbourne in May 2018 at which she provided an outline of the new work-related psychological injuries guidance that has been signed-off by SWA but not yet released to the public.

This guide is said to be a large one but not one that requires a re-education on safety and psychological terms.  There is discussion about applying the risk management Hierarchy of Controls to psychosocial hazard identification, the prevention of psychological harm through the design of good work and the identification of psychological hazards without the need to diagnose a medical condition.

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