How to create a safe and mentally healthy workplace
17 August 2022
A positive mental health and safety culture has the potential to boost the productivity of your employees, lower absentee rates and save your business money.
Work has an important role in your employees’ health and wellbeing, but it can also carry major risk factors such as injuries, poor health and even death. These risks can have devastating personal, social, and economic impacts for your staff, their families, and the wider community.1
In 2022, between 1 January and 28 July, a total of 94 Australian workers were killed while at work. This figure compares to 75 work-related fatalities during the same period in 2021.2
In Queensland between 2020 and 2021, there were 94,502 statutory workers’ compensation claims lodged. The health care and social assistance industry accounted for the largest proportion of claim lodgements (16.9%), while psychological claims were up 7.4%.3
Costs of mental illness
Australian society is experiencing an epidemic of mental illness that imposes enormous costs on individuals, families, workplaces, and the broader community. The disruption, stress and isolation caused by COVID-19 has made this crisis even worse.
As employees struggle to meet the demands of work and life and the increasing financial challenges in a post-pandemic world, the pressure on mental health is higher than ever.
The economic costs of Australia’s epidemic of mental health problems are substantial. Australia’s Productivity Commission estimates that poor mental health costs the national economy more than $200 billion a year.4
The Australian Institute and Centre for Future Work estimates that workplace associated mental ill-health causes up to $17.4 billion of that figure.5
National Safe Work Month
October 2022 is National Safe Work Month. Safe Work Australia is encouraging employers and employees to create organisational cultures and workplaces that are free from physical and psychological harm.
This year the National Safe Work Month theme is Know safety, work safely.
Safe Work Month coincides with Mental Health Week from 8 October 2022. Mental Health Week aims to increase awareness about the importance of work health and safety and the benefits of mentally healthy workplaces, because employees’ mental health should be equally important as their physical health and safety.
Mentally healthy workplaces
A mentally healthy workplace6 is one where:
- employees feel respected, supported and free to speak about concerns or stress
- psychological health and safety risks are eliminated and minimised through the identification and assessment of psychosocial hazards
- there is zero-tolerance of stigma and discrimination
- the recovery of workers returning after a physical or psychological injury is supported.
Investing in a mentally healthy workforce
There are financial rewards for employers in investing in a mentally healthy workforce, with 2022 figures from the international professional services firm Deloitte indicating a return on investment of $5.30 for every $1 invested in mental health and wellbeing initiatives.7
This financial benefit usually results from enhanced productivity and reduced psychological compensation claims.
How we can help
Because life doesn’t always go to plan, eligible members have access to quality insurance to help support them and their loved ones.
Our Employer Team provides employers with resources that can be provided to help employees find out more about how insurance in super works, and the different types of insurance cover that are available.
For more information, resources and solutions contact us here
1. ResearchGate, Traumatic Death at Work: Consequences for Surviving Families, accessed 15 August 2022 at researchgate.net
2. Safe Work Australia, Preliminary work-related fatalities | Safe Work Australia, accessed 9 August 2022, at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
3. Safe Work Australia, Key work health and safety statistics Australia 2021, accessed 10 August 2022, at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
4. Australian Government Productivity Commission, Mental Health Inquiry Report, accessed 10 August 2022.
5. The Australian Institute and Centre for Future Work, Investing in Better Mental Health in Australian Workplaces, accessed 11 August 2022.
6. Business Victoria, Create a mentally healthy workplace, accessed 10 August 2022.
7. Deloitte, Interested in a 5X ROI? Consider mental wellness initiatives, accessed 9 August 2022.