EMPLOYERS SCEPTICAL MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES ARE WORK-RELATED

Research conducted by employer organization the Australian Industry Group (AiG) indicates the majority of businesses in Australia are affected by mental health issues among their staff, but ‘employers appear much less likely to believe issues may be work-related than are regulators (or unions).’

The AiG recently shared findings from its CEO expectations survey, where 78% of respondents said their businesses were impacted by staff mental health problems in the past year. 14% reported significant impact. Around 77% of businesses have a mental health strategy, and those affected by mental health problems are more likely to have a strategy in place.

The survey was undertaken to understand why businesses develop mental health strategies, what thy entail, what works and where more support is needed to respond to mental health issues.

As SafetyNet readers will be aware, new workplace health and safety regulations step out how employers must address psychosocial hazards. While there might be different opinions on the origins of mental health issues at work, employers are expected to implement the highest level of psychosocial controls reasonably practicable.

Workers' compensation schemes are seeing increasing claims related to psychological injuries, which result in longer absences from work compared to physical injuries.

Employers continue to contend that dealing with mental health risks isn't as straightforward as addressing physical hazards, with the AiG noting whilst there’s a lot of guidance available but the challenge lies in translating information into practical solutions that work within their organisations.

They're also looking at how businesses are handling the combined pressures of regulatory requirements for both workplace safety and changes required by the Respect@Work report.

Source: OHS Alert, 14 August

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