National guidance on work-related psychological health and safety released

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Safe Work Australia has recently published the national guidance on work-related psychological health and safety.

The guide aims to help build a psychologically healthy and safe workplace by identifying, assessing and controlling risks to workers’ mental health.

Special Adviser for Safe Work Australia, Dr. Peta Miller said work-related psychological injury is expensive but taking preventative action is effective.

“Poor psychological safety costs Australian organisations $6 billion per annum in lost productivity. This is primarily because psychological injuries typically require three times more time off work than other injuries.

“Additionally, workplaces with poor psychological working conditions accrue 43 percent more sick days per month.”

Dr. Miller said work-related psychological injuries can be caused by excessive time pressures, unreasonable deadlines and poorly managed organizational change.

“Interpersonal conflict, harassment and bullying, and exposure to occupational violence are also critical causes of work-related injury,” she said.

“Most importantly, however, you can prevent workers becoming ill by taking preventative action and by intervening action and by intervening early.”

Dr. Miller said it is important to identify the hazards to good mental health, assess how severe the risks are and take steps to eliminate and control the risks.

“You can prevent your workers becoming ill or sustaining a psychological injury by responding to early warning signs and incidents – an increase in unplanned absence, uncharacteristic behaviour and workplace conflict are all clues that things aren’t quite right,” she said.

“Most importantly, workers will offer the most valuable insights – they know what causes them harm, and will have ideas about how to most effectively address the dangers to their mental health.

“My advice is to listen to the people doing the work.”

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