New workplace mental health clinical guidelines provide clarity

In 2016, a survey of General Practitioners (GPs) conducted by Monash University identified that GPs frequently struggled with patients involved with workers compensation and that mental illnesses were particularly problematic.

In January 2018 Monash University, with the support of major institutions and safety

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OHS is not all about workers compensation data

Every couple of months, after the release of official workplace fatality figures and serious injury, the Australian media reports the three most dangerous industries as Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry.  The latest article appeared in Australia’s Fairfax Media on 17 January 2018.  It is good that occupational health and safety (OHS) is gaining attention.  When so little media attention is given, any publicity is useful.

However this type of article also presents some negatives, including that it may be only representing 60% of all workplace fatalities and serious injuries.

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The clash between money and lives

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A media release from Australia’s Minister for Employment, Michaela Cash, starts the theme of management of workers compensation on the cusp of National Safe Work Month.  The purpose of the media release is ostensibly to celebrate that Comcare has become a fully funded scheme for the first time since 2010 but this is undermined by party politics:

“These results are another clear example of the Turnbull Government cleaning up after Labor’s slack financial management, while still delivering the most efficient and effective service for injured and ill employees.

Under Labor, Comcare had become a budget black hole into which taxpayer’s money simply disappeared.”

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You can learn so much more from a Near Miss – Interview with James Wood

James Wood was injured during work on an Australian mine site in 1985 resulting in spinal cord damage and other complications. For a long time, James has been telling his story to Australian workers for them to understand the risks they face, primarily, at work. I caught up with James on a very cold morning at a lovely café in Victoria’s Yarra Valley earlier this month.

SAWB: James, I heard you talk about your workplace injury and the disruption and the consequences of that at least 15 years ago at a breakfast meeting. It was extremely effective, and a powerful message. Fifteen years later you’re still doing that. Why tell your story? Why would anybody want to hear it?

JW: Well, there’s probably a couple of answers, Kevin. I share my story and my experiences because I know how my workplace accident changed my life and I know how it affected a lot of the people around me at the time. My family, workmates, friends. I believe that by sharing my story, I can give people a little bit of information about what it’s like to get hurt at work or even away from work.

I honestly hope that by telling people how I got hurt and how it changed my life, it can give people the reason to maybe use some of the training that we’re all given. To use the systems and the procedures that most workplaces have and try and stop somebody else from getting hurt.

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RTW seminar hints at WorkSafe Victoria’s future

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Victoria Australia has had a network of safety groups for well over 40 years with two or three enduring into this century.  On 5 July 2017, the Ballarat Regional Occupational Safety and Health Group (BROSH) held an interactive seminar on Return-To-Work (RTW). The discussion was not revolutionary but allowed the audience – a mix of businesses, OHS professionals and students – to speak about their lived experiences with managing injured workers.

I brought the WorkSafe 2030 Strategy discussion paper to the audience’s attention and a WorkSafe representative from the seminar’s panel, pictured above, said that there are several weird technical suggestions for workplace inspections and advice emerging from the discussion within the OHS regulator.  However the strategy is focussed always on the client and that it is “prevention-led”. OHS is all about the prevention of illness and injury but it appears that WorkSafe is extending this term to RTW.

The representative explained that the regulator is looking at interventions that prevent an injury or illness claim transforming into, or contributing to, another and new injury.  They hope that by focussing on the injured worker and providing the right level of advice and support, the will achieve the best RTW outcome for all involved.

One of the questions from the audience was if there is a better RTW and workers’ compensation system that Victoria could move to or learn from.  The panel agreed that the Victorian system seems to be leading Australia in terms of its financial health but, more importantly, the level of care and support options provided to injured workers.

The BROSH seminar was well attended and the audience was active, which largely resulted from the innovative and engaging seminar structure.

Kevin Jones