The economic, social and individual importance of mental health has never been more prominent than now. The latest statistics reveal higher levels of anxiety, psychological distress and depression among millions of Australians. According to Beyond Blue, approximately 15% of all Australians will experience depression in their lifetime, and 26.3% of Australians will experience an anxiety condition.
Of particular concern for the male dominated civil construction industry, Lifeline confirms that suicide is now the number one killer of men aged under 44 years. Workers in construction and similar trades are even more at risk. Men who work in this sector are 70% more likely to die by suicide than their office-worker counterparts. This means that an Australian tradesperson takes their own life every second day.
While the $110 billion investment by the Australian Government in transport infrastructure is welcomed by industry and will help rebuild the economy post-COVID, it is placing enormous pressure on contractors and workers to achieve milestones, complete projects on time, and make budget.
Protecting Workers from Mental Injury
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently released a report, Small Business, Mental Health; navigating the complex landscape. The report reveals that small business owners self-report stress levels and rates of mental ill-health that are higher now than before the pandemic. In addition, the current regulatory landscape relevant to managing and supporting mental health at work is increasingly complex, with five pieces of legislation to comply with.
The recently proposed Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Psychological Health) Regulations will provide clearer guidance to employers on their obligations to better protect workers from mental injury. The aim of the Regulations is to strengthen the OHS framework and recognise that risks to a workers psychological health can be just as harmful as physical hazards.
Under the regulations, employers should have a prevention plan in place to identify, measure and control psychosocial hazards in the workplace. This is the very work CCF Victoria and our Positive Plans – Positive Futures program have been undertaking over the last 12 months.
Supported by WorkSafe’s WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund, CCF Victoria’s Positive Plans — Positive Futures initiative is providing education and development opportunities for senior leaders. These opportunities are enabling leaders to develop prevention focused Mental Health Action Plans for their businesses.
For every dollar invested in creating a mentally healthy workplace in Victoria, it is estimated that business owners receive a return on investment of somewhere between $2 and $3. In addition to economic benefits, business owners can expect increased productivity, presentism and reduced absenteeism. Most importantly of all, business owners can help prevent mental injury to their workers.
Save the Date:
2022 Health & Wellbeing Summit – May 2022, Geelong
The Health & Wellbeing Summit will highlight the critical issues pertaining to mental health within civil construction, and the importance of building practical action plans to address these issues within workplaces, with the goal of bringing powerful and sustainable change. Topics will include:
- Leading a mental health initiative
- Assessing and managing work related stress factors
- Case studies and examples from other business and industries
- Support to develop and implement a Mental Health Action Plan, including frameworks, approaches, ROI and evaluation