All employers share a common ground for providing a workplace that is safe for their employees. Educating staff on environmental hazards, fire hazards and any other physical hazards that may prove to be an obstacle in the effective running of an organisation.
However, creating a workplace that is compliant with work, health and safety regulations goes far beyond the usual hazard-awareness mentality of health and safety; it encapsulates the mental health and well-being of your staff. In fact, “health” is defined in the WHS Act as both physical and psychological health. The latter of which is often not given adequate importance in line with its physical counterpart. A thought pattern that must change.
According to Safe Work Australia, it has been estimated that poor psychological health and safety costs Australian organisations $6 billion per annum in lost productivity. A very concerning figure and one that provides a warning to organisations to ensure that a strong foundation and culture of compliance incorporates mental health.
This is crucial for the sustainability of not only an organisation, but its brand integrity. Without a proper understanding of safety – both physical and psychological – employees will be at a greater risk of workplace injuries, illness or even death. This article looks into some aspects of mental health, as part of work health and safety, and why it is imperative to implement training and education that supports the ongoing health of a business.
Mental Health and Work Safety
The exposure to a range of hazards or environmental factors in the workplace can have a strong influence on the mental health of your staff. One of the most common consequences of exposure to any risks or environmental hazards is what termed as ‘work-related stress’. When stress is very high or it is prolonged, this can lead to a work-related injury such as depression or anxiety in the long-term.
Your staff’s psychological and physical health can be affected by factors that are under your control, these include:
- a poorly designed or managed work environment,
- bullying and harassment,
- excessive work pressures,
- remote or isolated work,
- and poor change management.
Safetrac’s Work and Health Safety training course can be customised to your unique workplace values and culture, whilst providing an in-depth course on health and safety – inclusive of psychological health. Check out the courses
As well as the obvious business impact this can have on your organisation (unplanned absences, high turnover of staff and low productivity) is the mark that it can leave on your overall brand and organisational health.
An organisation that does not implement or take the efforts in providing a means of making staff aware of health and safety in its entirety, and produces a meaningful code of conduct of organisational values, will ultimately not last very long in the marketplace.
Safety from Bullying and Harassment
Bullying and Harassment is an aspect of workplace safety that is, unfortunately, becoming quite common industry-wide – resulting in devastating consequences. Safework Australia defines workplace bullying as repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.
Failure to take steps to manage the risk of workplace bullying will result in a severe breach of Work Health and Safety laws – a risk that organisations cannot afford to take.
Although managing the risk of workplace bullying can be a sensitive and complex topic, it is imperative that organisations implement control measures to manage these risks, with regular reviews conducted to consider the effectiveness of these measures. A recent report by Safe Work Australia set out these measures to include the following:
- Setting the standard of workplace behaviour (for example, through a code of conduct or workplace bullying policy).
- Providing information and training on workplace bullying policies and procedures, available support and assistance, and how to respond and prevent workplace bullying.
- Prioritising measures that foster and protect the psychological health of employees.
According to Safe Work Australia, “a safe and healthy workplace does not happen by chance or guesswork. You have to think about what could go wrong at your workplace, and what the consequences could be. Then you must do whatever you can – whatever is reasonably practicable – to eliminate or minimise the health and safety risks arising from the work your organisation undertakes”.
Compliance training in relation to health and safety must take an in-depth approach, as opposed to a tick-the-box and generic course implementation that is not reflective of the values or unique work environment.
Most importantly, your training should include a mental health component in order to fully display a commitment to your organisational health, and that of your staff.
At Safetrac, we take workplace health and safety very seriously by helping organisations implement customised training courses that encapsulate mental health.
No matter the training you need, it starts with reaching out. Talk to our team today to view any course online.