For everyone Safety Matters: Preventing mental health injuries at work

  • By Meaghan Flack
  • This article was published more than 11 months ago.
  • 29 Jul 2023

Psychological injuries are increasing in our workplaces. Whether you are in an early childhood centre, a school or a TAFE, managing psychosocial hazards is core work for our Health and Safety Reps (HSRs).

WorkCover claims related to mental health injuries in our workplaces are growing, and these claims often take significantly longer to resolve than those linked to physical injuries. A number of people who incur mental health injuries at work never regain a work capacity. Prevention is key. 

But how do you know if a colleague is struggling with their mental health? How would you approach them? When you ask someone if they are OK, what do you do when they say they are not? How do you address mental health as a workplace safety issue? And what is a psychosocial hazard? 

All of these questions and more were discussed by a group of more than 60 HSRs recently when they attended an afternoon session called ‘Having Mental Health Conversations’. The session gave HSRs an opportunity to learn about known risk factors for psychological injuries, such as high job demands, exposure to work-related violence, fatigue, and a lack of control.

These HSRs worked together to develop skills they could use to identify when their colleagues were struggling, and discussed ways to address these issues before an injury occurred. They left much more confident in using their powers under the OH&S Act to ensure that safety in their workplaces included psychological safety. 

But not every workplace has an HSR. Having an elected, union-trained HSR who works closely with the union branch is the best way to ensure the workplace remains safe. If your workplace doesn’t have an HSR and you’d like to learn more about electing one, give me a call on 0425 848 036.

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