EMPLOYERS OBLIGATION TO PREVENT PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURIES

I had lunch with an admirable associate in my network recently, who I always have such insightful conversations with. We happened to be discussing the topic of mental health and as the conversation flowed I realised how important our insights were collectively and that we really should be sharing with others. So, today, we go a little deeper into an area of passion for myself, that is the prevention of psychological injuries in the workplace.

Did you know under the WHS Act “health” is defined as both physical and psychological and to this extent, the obligation of employers to protect against psychological injury in the workplace is actually equal to the responsibility of protection against physical injuries? It’s really important not only for PCBU’s (responsible officers under the act) to be clear on this, but for all managers in respect of their duty of care. In every business, protecting people from psychological injury is not only imperative on moral grounds, but also quite clearly on legal grounds.

Mental Health is becoming more prevalent both as an issue in society and a topic of conversation. Employers are becoming more aware of it and embedding more initiatives around health and wellbeing but are they doing all they can to prevent psychological harm within the workplace. Every business is going to be placed in a different position but here are some simple things that every HR Manager or business leader/owner can take to sleep a little easier at night.

  1. Understand what psychological hazards are
    A psychological hazard is anything that increases the risk of work-related stress for example; high or low job demands, violence or trauma, poor workplace relationships, remote or isolated work, role clarity, etc.
  2. Identify the psychological hazards in your workplace
    Look to your existing employees as a really good place to start, they will be very informative from the role occupant viewpoint.
  3. Assess  & control
    In some cases the hazard can be removed by better defining the role or by structuring more regular or periodic manager reviews. In some cases the hazard cannot be removed such as in frontline health/aged care workers for example. Providing care for a patient who acts violently towards the carer cannot be controlled by the employer however the risk of psychological injury can still be reduced. Training is an essential part of any role, however I emphasise finding the right person is imperative in these types of roles.
  4. Review and monitor the control
    Reviewing and monitoring the control is important practice for every business and for every business initiative. This is not only key to best practice change management but also key to business excellence. All in all, you want to maintain the effectiveness of your control.

People experience stress in different ways. The old age saying, “no two eggs crack the same”, is the unfortunate analogy that has stuck with me from my psychology studies. Let’s be honest, since I started my career in the world of HR Management my number one goal was to support people, definitely not to break them. Developing a custom Careworker Assessment to identify ideal careworkers was a goal I had several years ago and being able to successfully implement this in businesses has been rewarding. The feedback of dramatic change in not only injury statistics but also in employee engagement and tenure statistics has made me even more passionate about the need to support employers and candidates to find their ‘right’ fit.

Pear People are proud to offer the Careworker Assessment to organisations who are looking to better understand the ideal attributes and workstyles of candidates applying for care work. The tool can be used to strengthen your existing recruitment processes or you can engage Pear People to recruitment on your behalf and the assessment tool is just one of the screening measures we use to assure quality.

Say hello to the team at Pear People today to start your journey in improving your people solutions.