Australian health and safety professionals’ wages increase, mental health in the workplace still a challenge

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Photo: SafetyCulture Library

A recent survey conducted by health, safety, environment (HSE) and workers compensation recruitment specialists, safesearch, found the wages of health and safety professionals in Australia have increased, but many still struggle with the “changing scope of workplace safety”.

safesearch general manager, Aaron Neilson said the infrastructure boom has benefitted WHS and HSE workers in New South Wales and Queensland.

“New South Wales safety remuneration has increased across all levels, which reflects the strength of the market while resource-heavy states Queensland and Western Australia are showing signs of recovery from the mining downturn. These latter two states have shown resilience during the mining collapse and have shifted their attention to other sectors, where demand for safety workers is high,” said Mr Neilson.

The survey found that the total actual remuneration (TAR)of WHS and HSE advisers increased 2.4 percent year-on-year while the average WHS/HSE Manager TAR increased by 4.1 percent year-on-year. Group managers and general managers in the worker’s compensation sector reported a decrease this year, citing a drop of 1.5 percent year-on-year, but national environment managers had the most significant increase with the average TAR up from $185,103 to $225,937 year-on-year.

While the wage growth among safety workers is good news, the survey also revealed that mental health and wellbeing continues to be a key challenge for many safety managers, three years in a row.

“Currently safety strategies are seen as a potential business burden. They are not always developed in tandem with broader business objectives, and risk being viewed as inhibitive,” said Mr Neilson.

“The overwhelming message from this year’s survey is that safety has to be approached differently by businesses – with 90 percent of respondents in agreement. What does this mean? As the industry continues to develop, we expect to see more pragmatic, business-enabling strategies become the norm. Smarter safety strategies will reinforce the central business objectives of the organisation.”

The survey revealed that 80 percent of the respondents giving health and wellbeing strategies of high importance within their organisations, yet only a third having a dedicated health and wellbeing resource in place.

“The survey highlighted that organisations are struggling to assign ownership of their mental health and wellbeing strategies. The complexities of these challenges often require dedicated resources with health promotion expertise, and we are yet to see this arise as a widespread trend in the workplace,” Mr Neilson said.

“In addition, now that this has been identified as a business risk, WHS, HSE and HR employees are tasked witgh defining how to best manage mental health in the workplace. Employers are not expected to become social workers but they need to address the effects that mental health brings to their workplace.”

More information about the remuneration survey can be obtained on the safesearch website.

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