Australian suicide research expands understanding of workplace factors 2

Research is intended to provide answers but sometimes it can only provide clues. But clues allow progress and flag peripheral issues that could possibly become mainstream.  Social research into the possible workplace influences on suicide is one area of clues and, again, the Creative Ministries Network (CMN) has undertaken solid research into the worst-case scenario of workplace mental health advocates.

Recently CMN released “Suicide and Work“, it’s March 2010 research report. The accompanying media release said:

“Of eleven suicides where the deceased person had at least one prior WorkCover claim prior to their death, the length of time on workers’ compensation was positively correlated with increased probability of suicide. The data is not able to indicate what it is about the length of time on compensation that may be critical to whether an injured worker commits suicide. More…

Company pleads guilty over insulation installer death 4

In June 2010, Arrow Property Maintenance Pty Ltd was charged with failing to conduct its business or undertaking in a way that was electrically safe, after, accoridng to one media report:

“[A] 16-year-old boy was electrocuted while installing fibreglass insulation in the ceiling of a home at Stanwell, west of Rockhampton, on November 18, 2009.”

On 14 September 2010, Queensland Industrial Magistrate John McGrath heard the company plead guilty.   More…

Safety begins to converge to focus on the individual 1

If further information about the increasing inter-relationships between psychosocial health and physical health, organisational culture and a worker’s mental  health was needed, a new study from Sweden provides convincing evidence.

The research, a study of 81 research projects into the links between psychosocial factors and musculoskeletal disorders, was reported in by Eurofound on 10 September 2010.  It found, among other issues that

“… The link between an unfavourable psychosocial environment and the prevalence of MSDs is well established, with a number of studies demonstrating that high stress at work is connected to increased risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder. More…

Death at work and work-related death 5

People die every day.  Some die in their sleep in bed, some collapse in the street, some suicide at a place of their choosing, others die at work.  But for those who die at work there is an important differentiation between dying at work and dying from work.

The differentiation can be fairly simple to determine but can be muddied by workplace politics.  For instance, the South Australian desalination project (video report available) has had one work-related fatality but there have been at least three deaths on-site.  Determining what is work-related is important for safety managers as this affects the way an incident is investigated, the resources allocated to the investigation and the level of emphasis placed on prevention. More…

Australian Noise report. Is anyone listening? 3

Safe Work Australia has released a very important report called “Occupational Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Australia “.

The report confirms many of the challenges faced by OHS professionals. There is, among others,

  • An over-reliance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Noise is not taken seriously
  • Effective noise control is undervalued
  • Small and medium-sized companies pay less attention to the hazard
  • Noise control is seen as expensive
  • As hearing damage cannot be repaired, it is seen as inevitable

The report provides a detailed profile of NIHL and many will find the report an invaluable to gaining more attention to control measures in workplaces but just as mental health is both an occupational AND public health matter, so noise is affecting our private lives just as much as it is in our work lives.

As with many government safety reports, change is likely to come not from the report itself but how the media, the community and the OHS professions use the information to affect change.

Kevin Jones