New data on workplace suicides should change the mental health at work discussion

“No one should die at work” is a common statement at Worker Memorial Services every year. Occupational health and safety (OHS), in particular, uses death as a starting point for reflection and sometimes action. Workplace death is a recognised worst-case scenario and has long been established as a benchmark for measuring OHS progress.

[This article discusses workplace suicides]

There is increased interest in psychosocial hazards at work with the worthy goal of preventing these hazards. However, psychosocial deaths such as those by suicide do not hold the same place or role as “traditional” physical workplace deaths. They are rarely the launching pad for drastic change in our systems of business, but that is starting to change if new data and analysis are any indication.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

WHO says burnout is occupational, but at least one psychologist says WHO is wrong

The cover story of the February 2024 edition of Psychology Today is less a story than a collection of short pieces on mental health and burnout. This blog may seem unfairly critical of much of the psychological discussion on burnout but this is largely because the World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined burnout as an occupational phenomenon and “is not classified as a medical condition”. The popular literature on mental health and its workplace context almost entirely overlooks these two elements – a literature that is often the first destination for people trying to understand their workplace distress. Sometimes, popular literature is unhelpful.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

World Day of Health and Safety – Climate Change

The need for occupational health and safety (OHS) to adapt to the changing (deteriorating) global climate has long been discussed. This discussion may spike later this month with this year’s World Day of Health and Safety theme, the somewhat fatalistic “Ensuring safety and health at work in a changing climate“. Rather than look closely at the ILO global report on this issue, clearer discussion may be found in the latest edition of HesaMag with its special report on “Workers and the climate challenge” from the European Trade Union Institute.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

UK’s fit note initiative is a short-term attempt at a fix

On April 19 2024, United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a major speech about welfare reform and mental health. The UK has a strong tradition of public health support through its National Health Service, which always seems to be underfunded and under-resourced but holds huge cultural and medical significance in the community. Mental ill-health has increased enormously over the last decade, as it has in countries like Australia, which is currently undergoing significant industrial relations reforms. However, what is missing from the PM’s speech and some of the subsequent analysis is that work is controlled by employers, so what does PM Sunak expect employers to do to help?

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

The occupational context of burnout is largely missed in this new book about exhaustion

Burnout continues to have its moment in the sun. It is the cover story of the February 2024 edition of Psychology Today and is a major theme in a new book about exhaustion. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration of burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” is downplayed or ignored in both publications.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

Mental Health First Aid is not a harm prevention strategy

Courses in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) are increasingly popular in Australia as employers struggle to understand their (new) occupational health and safety (OHS) obligations to provide psychologically safe and healthy work environments. However, MHFA and OHS are fundamentally incompatible.

MHFA is an intervention program, while OHS requires prevention. So, employers who send staff to MHFA intending to comply with their OHS obligations are deluded.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

Do international safety organisations endorse Skodel? Are they affiliates?

Earlier this month, a company called Skodel received support on some LinkedIn posts in relation to workplace mental health. Its website says the company has

“….a focus on developing a safe outlet for people to share mental wellbeing concerns and get linked to support.”

At the end of the company’s homepage was this image:

The inclusion of the Safe Work Australia (SWA) logo, in particular, seemed odd as I have never seen it on non-SWA websites previously.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.
Concatenate Web Development
© Designed and developed by Concatenate Aust Pty Ltd