In recent months, we have seen an increase in queries regarding mental health and psychosocial hazards in the workplace, specifically focusing on the potential risks to employees’ health and safety from a failure to provide adequate formal safety induction training for employees.
Workplace violence can arise from various sources, including your customers, clients, or people you work with like suppliers or members of the public, or even between workers, supervisors and managers. It can occur away from the usual workplace to locations where work is being carried out, such as clients’ homes or if a person’s workplace is their home.
Bullying and violence in the workplace directly affect a worker’s psychological and physical health, which in turn imposes significant economic and social costs for workers, their family, their organisation and the wider community.
It is now becoming a hot topic for WorkSafe Inspectors who attend businesses to check to see how staff are treated and what practices businesses have in place for not only physical safety measures but also for practices that promote psychological health and safety.
Key areas that Inspectors are investigating include but are not limited to:
- Systems of Work – Examining policies or procedures such as Violence and Aggression, Workplace Health and Safety, Workplace Bullying, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Harassment
- Employee Responsibilities – Evaluating how businesses outline employee responsibilities through position descriptions, Code of Conduct, and how the business operates – operational procedures
- How do deal with Inappropriate Behaviours and Conduct – Assessing your Grievance Policy and procedure, and investigation and mediation processes
- Additional Support – Reviewing resources such as the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or where to get more information for employees
- Training – what training are you providing to workers to ensure they are educated on the company policies, procedures, and inductions
Employees too must take reasonable care of their health and safety, including work-related violence. Workers must report violent incidents or follow reasonable employer directives about how to do work to avoid or reduce the risk of exposure to violence.
We have seen an increase in WorkCover claims for mental disorder and mental stress caused by harassment, bullying or exposure to violence. These can lead to body stress, trips and falls, mental stress, and other forms of incidents in the workplace.
Most recently, you may have watched and listened to our Psychosocial Hazard Webinar and seen articles and information about the importance of psychosocial hazards and safety recommendations in your workplace. Click here to watch the recording.
As managers and employers, we should be working on improving business practices such as, and not limited to:
- Improving Workplace Culture – Establishing guided behaviours and safety culture through policies and procedures
- Recognition and Rewards – Acknowledging and rewarding employees for prioritising safety
- Open Communication – Creating a positive workspace where workers feel comfortable to speak up
- Tools and Training – Providing employees with the skills and knowledge necessary to do their work safely and provide safe operating instructions including identifying, managing and responding to occupational violence and aggression
- How to log incidents – Ensuring employees understand how to log incidents, including violence and aggression, and the systems in place for this
It is important that new employees receive copies of the employer’s policies and procedures, including the inappropriate behaviour policies and procedures, on commencement of employment, while all existing staff would benefit from the business providing regular refresher training at least once every two years, with annual refresher inductions being ideal.
Workers and managers who require support for their mental health, are encouraged to reach out to the following services:
- Lifeline 24 hours a day on 13 11 14
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Serviceon 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blueon 1300 22 46 36
- Headspaceon 1800 650 890
- Victims of Crime Helpline (8am-11pm) on 1800 819 817
- 1800RESPECT is the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling
- Local Police
If you need help in your business to set up a positive safety culture and minimising psychosocial hazards and risks, please reach out to the HR team at Key Business Advisors on 1300 4 ADVICE.