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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Mental Health of your workers - A joint responsibility

Maralyn Kastel - Wednesday, July 09, 2014

According to Safe Work Australia, the WHS Act defines health as both physical and psychological well-being. In fact, just last month Safe Work Australia announced its endorsement of the "Heads Up" initiative, a joint campaign launched by beyondblue and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance.

The campaign's goal is to raise awareness about mental health in the workplace and provide resources for businesses. Consider three work-related factors identified by the initiative that can potentially cause psychological harm.

The Environment:Loud noise, poor air quality, uncomfortable temperatures and unsafe equipment are often associated with physical injury. However, these physical factors can also initiate a stress response, creating psychological symptoms in workers. Any lack of response to safety hazards can increase the mental strain upon workers.

Your Company: The demands of the organisation can contribute to mental strain and stress for workers. Job demand, lack of control and a feeling of not being supported can decrease the individual’s mental well-being. Communication plays a huge role in risk factors. When an worker’s role and their objectives are not clarified, frustration and decreased productivity result.

How major changes in the organisation are communicated drastically affects worker’s reaction and the mental strain that results. Another key area of communication involves recognition and reward. How workers are reviewed; whether or not they are given opportunities for skill improvement and how the feedback is communicated play a role in a person's mental health and their perceptions. 

Individuals: Some workers handle stress better than others. Some may already have a mental disability or illness that makes them more likely to suffer mental harm. One of the "Heads Up" campaign's key recommendations is a mental health risk assessment. This involves identifying risk factors, and creating control measures. Worker personalities must be included in this risk assessment. While organisations cannot cater to every individual, control measures can be put in place to reduce the likelihood of stress and other forms of psychological damage. 

A mental health risk assessment is a key part of WHS management that is often overlooked. Risk factors will vary significantly based on sector, industry, company and individuals. Let the The Detail Devils help your organisation better protect your works. Contact us to learn more. 

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