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Business - 5 min read

OHS and Mental Health: Is Your Business Doing Enough?

David Cartwright

Senior Marketing Manager - Software

Mar 5, 2018 3:02:00 PM

Investing in Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) and the mental health of your employees is good for your business and productivity. It’s vital for companies to support their staff with any health-related problems they may have while at work. But, is your business doing enough? 

OHS involves the assessment of threats that pose a risk to the health, welfare, and safety of everybody in your workplace. This is inclusive of the wellbeing of your employees, contractors, suppliers, visitors, and even customers. In Australia, all businesses must meet specific legal requirements to ensure their workplaces meet OHS obligations.


Australian OHS/WHS Legislation Requirements

Before 2012, OHS laws differed across the Australian territories and states. Therefore, the respective governments came up with consistent model laws under the WHS Act and Regulations, which were used as the basis for all OHS and mental health safety laws. Today, businesses are legally required to:

  • Provide safe work premises and facilities
  • Assess workplace risks and immediately implement appropriate control measures
  • Provide and maintain safe work equipment and machinery
  • Ensure safe handling and use of machinery and materials
  • Have worker’s compensation and insurance for all employees
  • Provide suitable workplace safety systems and layouts


The Benefits of OHS in Your Business

Not only is creating a safe work environment a legal requirement for all businesses, but it is also critical to long-term success. It helps you retain staff, maximise employee productivity, as well as minimise injuries and illnesses in the workplace. Furthermore, it reduces the total cost of worker’s compensation, prevents lawsuits, and ensures that you meet all your legal OHS obligations and employee responsibilities. 

Although it may cost a lot to implement safe work practices and install proper equipment, the effects of not taking suitable action can be costly and severe. Compliance with OHS requirements prevents you from being fined, sued, or prosecuted in the event of accidents or death at your workplace. 


Mental Health in the Workplace

According to business.gov.au, one in every five Australians may experience at least one mental health condition during their lifetime. This is a fact that should concern you as an employer in the construction industry. Common mental conditions like anxiety and depression may have a significant impact on work performance, which is why it’s crucial to think about ways to manage mental health-related issues in your business. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported in 2016 that depression, anxiety, drug use, and stress were the leading causes of mental health disorders in the country. These conditions are all negatively affected by a lack of proper job resources, burnout, high job demand, and personal health issues. Furthermore, they are exacerbated by anxiety and stress at work mostly caused by the fear of retrenchment or unemployment.

Tender tips, marketing tips, technology for builders.

As a result, mental health issues cause reduced productivity through low work engagement, absenteeism, and presenteeism. Apart from the loss of production, your business may be further hit by high costs of rehabilitation that average $22,200 per claim and 13.3 weeks off work.

Construction companies should adopt the following core standards in their organisations to improve the overall mental health of the workplace:

  • Produce, communicate, and implement a mental health plan
  • Support mental health awareness among your employees
  • Ensure that all your staff members have good working conditions
  • Promote effective people management
  • Routinely monitor the psychological well-being of your employees
  • Encourage open conversations about OHS and workplace mental health


The Essence of Managing Mental Health

As a business owner and employer within the Australian construction industry, managing mental health in your workplace will help you reduce staff absenteeism, as well as working days lost every year and increase the rate of productivity in your workplace. 

OHS creates a mentally healthy and safe work environment that benefits not only your bottom line but also your employees and workers. Abiding by set work health and safety regulations in your state requires you to take reasonable steps to ensure workplace mental health safety or risk facing penalties and fines. 

Put simple, managing mental health improves your bottom line. A 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers’ return on investment analysis reported that every dollar spent on providing mentally healthy workplaces results in a $2.30 benefit to your business.


Going the Extra Mile

On top of providing a safe and healthy work environment for all your employees, it is advisable to go a step further and observe employee behaviour changes like tardiness, mood, physical appearance, and performance. Remember to step in early before the entire team is affected and refrain from making undue judgements. 

The need to implement OHS systems in your workplace to ensure employee safety and prevent mental health disorders is not only tied to your bottom line or productivity. Instead, you should have the motivation to act humanely by providing safe work environments. 


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