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How to support your staff through traumatic events

How to support your staff through traumatic events

For many, 2020 has been a rough start to the year.

With the horrific bushfires in Australia and fear of the spread of Coronavirus globally and locally, many workplaces are dealing with staff directly or indirectly impacted by trauma emanating from these events.

Some lost loved ones, their homes and/or animals in the fires or are close to those who have. They may have fought the fires with the CFA on behalf of grateful communities, helped their neighbours or friends defend their homes or evacuate from harm’s way under intense circumstances. Family or friends may be isolated or quarantined in the Coronavirus response or are waiting on tenterhooks for news on affected relatives or friends.  Both of these situations are ongoing.

Emotionally and physically so many Aussies have been traumatised, so what can you, a colleague or supervisor do to help?

Everyone deals with trauma differently.  There is no ‘right way’.  Some will want to talk about it whilst others won’t.  Some find it difficult to focus or will withdraw, while others are all talk.  Some are emotional whilst others behave just like they did before the events. What is common to all is what they’ll need from you as their workmate or Manager.


Listen

Truly listen.  This is not interrupting them with your own view on what has happened, cutting them short or telling them how they ‘should’ be feeling, for example “aren’t you angry at those darn pollies“? It is not about making them feel their reaction is wrong or ‘making’ them talk about it if they don’t want to.

Listening is being present in the moment with them.  Listening is letting them share what they wish to (or not). Listening is letting them express as little or as much as they wish.  Listening is not judging.  Listening is accepting a perspective and allowing them to share.  Whatever their reaction, remind yourself they are having a very normal response to a very abnormal and traumatic event, and let them express what and how they feel in a way appropriate to them.


Acknowledge

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not.
The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone”.

Robin Williams

Acknowledge how they feel. When you acknowledge how someone feels they feel supported and not alone. Statements such as “I can’t imagine how frightened you would have been” are appropriate. Everyone will feel differently as everyone’s experience is different – sad, angry, frightened, scared or frustrated – empathise and acknowledge their feelings and accept their reaction as just that – their unique reaction.

The worst thing you can do is tell them how they ’should be feeling’ or what you think they should do to fix, or get relief from the situation. They won’t feel listened to or heard.  When you are present, listen deeply and acknowledge how they feel – they will feel heard and supported and most importantly, not alone.


Support

Know the difference between listening and acknowledging vs counselling.  As a Manager or work colleague it is not our role to provide counselling at work.  Rather, our role is to support people the best way we can, and when it comes to the psychological side of dealing with trauma, this support includes encouraging them to seek professional support.

Never attempt to provide counselling to others unless you are qualified to do so.  Why?  Trauma is a tricky topic to integrate and process, and you may do more harm than good if you venture into this territory (even with the best intent) without the skills and knowledge to truly help.  Also, the workplace is often a refuge for people experiencing trauma and to blur boundaries by attempting to help them ‘process’ emotion at work, can have countless side effects.

Your role is to listen, acknowledge and support.  This support may include referrals to a professional and often practical help such as flexible work hours or working from home, time off, food, clothing or housing or perhaps reduced workloads.  These supports are needed, wanted and will show you care without venturing into territory where you are not qualified to offer advice.

Listenacknowledgesupport. Three simple steps that will make a huge difference.

Where you or your staff can get support

Lifeline
13 11 14
Lifeline provides free, 24-hour Telephone Crisis Support service in Australia. Volunteer Crisis Supporters provide suicide prevention services, mental health support and emotional assistance, not only via telephone but face-to-face and online.

Beyond Blue
1300 22 4636
Beyond Blue is an Australian independent non-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, suicide, anxiety disorders and other related mental disorders

Embrace Multicultural Mental Health 
(02) 6285 3100
A national platform for multicultural communities and Australian mental health services to access resources, services and information in a culturally accessible format.

Headspace
1800 650 890
Free online and telephone service that supports young people aged between 12 and 25 and their families going through a tough time.

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Designed for emerging leaders, in the BSB42015 Certificate IV in Leadership and Management you’ll learn how to provide leadership and guidance to others in the workplace and to manage effective, motivated, high performing teams in all types of organisations and industries.

This program is customised to your organisations needs and timeline with time between the sessions to enable staff to to trial their new skills within the workplace supported by an expert management facilitator.

To find out how we can customise this program for your needs contact us on 1300 453 555, info@safetydimensions.com.au or click here.

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Working in air pollution – what are an employer’s obligations?

Working in air pollution – what are an employer’s obligations?

If your job requires you to work outside, the recent bushfires and dust storms may put your and your staff at risk of exposure to air pollution. As an employer you need to be aware of your legal obligations.

Under the Work Health Safety Act 2011, employers have a duty to, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure health and safety by eliminating or minimising risks – this is not only for their employees but also for subcontractors.

Smoke from bushfires is made up of very small particles and gases. These particles in the air can irritate your eyes, nose and throat, causing itchy/burning eyes, runny nose, headaches, irritate the throat or sinuses and cause shortness of breath. The particles are so small they can also penetrate deep into the lungs. In healthy people these symptoms may be temporary, however those with a lung or heart condition may experience a worsening of their condition, leading to a more severe response such as an asthma attack or heart attack.

So how do you keep people safe and meet your obligations?

First you should check your local air quality index to determine the level of air quality and risk where you are working.

You can check your states environment protection authority website for the most up to date readings:

NSW

Victoria

Queensland

South Australia

Western Australia

Tasmania

Northern Territory

Australian Capital Territory


According to Safe Work Australia, dust and smoke may:

  • reduce air quality and impact visibility
  • settle onto equipment and impact the functioning of plant and grip of surfaces
  • irritate the airway, nose and eyes.

You must talk to your workers and their elected Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and take their views into account when deciding on control measures to eliminate or minimise WHS risks at your workplace, including measures to eliminate or minimise risks from air pollution.

Your workplace must have measures in place to manage the risks to health and safety caused by working outdoors when air quality is reduced, including:

  • working indoors (where possible)
  • rescheduling outdoor work until conditions (e.g., visibility and air quality) improve​
  • ensuring plant is functioning correctly and has not been affected by dust or debris
  • cleaning any dust and debris off outdoor surfaces
  • providing personal protective equipment such as eye protection and correctly fitted P2 rated face masks.


Safe Work Australia has published guidance on ‘Managing the risks from air pollution: Advice for PCBUs’:

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/managing-risks-air-pollution-advice-pcbus

 

References:
Safe Work Australia https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
Health NSW https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/bushfire-illness.aspx

Ready to train your people in risk management, hazard identification and subcontractor management?

We have a range of programs to train your people in risk management, hazard identification  and subcontractor management which can be tailored specifically to your industry and organisational needs. Training can be delivered as individual modules or as part of one of our accredited programs.

You can see our full program suite here >> or see some relevant units below:

Risk Assessment & Hazard Identification

This program helps you identify and describe the difference between a hazard and a risk, and introduces a way of thinking about hazard identification and risk management as an everyday activity.

It will also enhance the skills and capabilities of leaders in the areas of hazard identification, risk analysis and identification and how to implement appropriate risk controls.

Download the course outline>>

Subcontractor Management

Learn to effectively manage WHS site risks and performance by learning how to effectively select, manage and monitor the complex and difficult world of subcontractors.  It also covers the WHS obligations regarding subcontractors, stepping through the various stages of effective subcontractor management, including assessing, evaluating safety history, attitude and managing expectations of performance and reporting.

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The BSB41419 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety is a nationally accredited program which will teach you how to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk and consult on work health and safety issues. This program is most suited to those in a Safety Officer or Health and Safety Representatives role, or those currently in leadership roles wishing to shift their career into Health and Safety.

Contact us to express interest in the new program >>

Want to find out more about how we can customise our programs to your industry and organisation?
Let's talk!
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From our blog

How to support your staff through traumatic events

How to support your staff through traumatic events

For many, 2020 has been a rough start to the year. With the horrific bushfires in Australia and fear of the spread of Coronavirus globally and locally, many workplaces are dealing with staff directly or indirectly impacted by trauma emanating from these events. Some...

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How to nail your goals

How to nail your goals

Are you left with a bundle of New Year’s resolutions which sounded like a good idea at the time, but never made it past the idea stage?

Here are six hacks to revive those goals.

1. Know what you want and get SMART about it

Goals work best if they have broader purpose and a way to measure their success.

This works best in two parts. First establish the overarching WHY of your chosen goal. Ask, why is that goal important to you? Keep asking ‘why’ till you find a context that inspires you.  If you’re looking find a new job, perhaps your ‘why’ is to ‘do challenging work that uses my skills and expands my boundaries’.

Similarly a goal to lose 5kg might be more inspiring to have the ‘why’ of improved health, vitality and wellbeing.

Once you’ve got your overarching ‘why’, make sure your goals are SMART: SpecificMeasurableActionableReinforcingTrackable.

2. Find an ally

If you want to make your goal stick, share it with someone who’s willing to keep you in check. Tell them why the goal is important to you and ask them to remind you if you go off track. Tapping into groups that have like-minded people, or connecting with someone else who shares the same goal (or has already achieved it) can motivate you to stay on track.

3. Line your ducks up

Whether it’s a personal or professional goal, make sure you have your resources ready to deploy. Planning to run a marathon won’t turn out so well without a training plan and shoes that will go the distance. Ask, do you need to pace yourself, or is it a sprint? Know what you need to do (actions), have (resources) and be (personal attributes) to meet your goal.

4. Set micro-goals

Break down your overarching goals into bite sized micro-goals with milestones and diarise all the tasks you’ll need to complete to keep you on track.

5. Plan for a breakdown

It’s almost certain that something will come up that puts achieving your goal at risk. Life will get in your way, or maybe you’ll get in your own way. How you handle the obstacles and breakdowns will dictate your success or failure. Plan out what action you’re going to take when these breakdowns happen.

6. Celebrate the wins

Not all goals happen overnight, so it’s important to celebrate the small wins along the way to keep you motivated and to acknowledge how far you’ve come.

From our blog

How to support your staff through traumatic events

How to support your staff through traumatic events

For many, 2020 has been a rough start to the year. With the horrific bushfires in Australia and fear of the spread of Coronavirus globally and locally, many workplaces are dealing with staff directly or indirectly impacted by trauma emanating from these events. Some...

read more
How to nail your goals

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Are you left with a bundle of New Year’s resolutions which sounded like a good idea at the time, but never made it past the idea stage? Here are six hacks to revive those goals. 1. Know what you want and get SMART about it Goals work best if they have broader purpose...

read more
Key WHS statistics Australia

Key WHS statistics Australia

Safe Work Australia compiles the National Dataset for compensation-based statistics which comprises information on workers' compensation claims provided by each of the jurisdictional workers' compensation authorities. Although 563,600 people experienced a work-related...

read more
Labour hire – what are your WHS obligations?

Labour hire – what are your WHS obligations?

When hiring labour, no one should assume that someone else is taking care of health and safety. Everyone in the chain is required to know who is doing what and work together  so risks are eliminated or minimised. With major construction and infrastructure projects all...

read more
Why sleep is your superpower

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Are you and your workers skimping on sleep? It’s been proven that sleep deprivation not only means poorer performance, productivity and safety outcomes, but has an impact on our physical health. Researchers found workers losing just 16 minutes of sleep (from the 7-9...

read more

Key WHS statistics Australia

Key WHS statistics Australia

Safe Work Australia compiles the National Dataset for compensation-based statistics which comprises information on workers’ compensation claims provided by each of the jurisdictional workers’ compensation authorities.

Although 563,600 people experienced a work-related injury or illness in 2017-18, the data in the Safe Work Australia report refers only to the 107,335 serious claims where the compensated injury or disease resulted in one week or more off work.

Why does it take so long to finalise the data?  Figures are updated only once all the appropriate authorities have investigated the deaths and more accurate information becomes available. Only then does Safe Work Australia include the incident in their statistics and publish their final report.

 

Key Findings

  • 144 fatalities nationally
  • 75% of workplace fatalities came from Transport, Postal & Warehousing / Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing / Construction & Mining in 2017-18.
  • 107,335 serious claims resulting in one week or more off work
  • $11,300 median compensation paid per claim

Fatalities By State 2017-18Fatalaties By State 2018

 

Number of fatalities, by gender 2017-18.

 

Number of fatalities, by industry 2017-18.

 

Number of fatalities, by occupation 2017-18.

 

Serious claims overall statistics, 2017–18

Serious claims overall statistics, 2017–18

 

Serious claims by nature of injury disease, 2017–18

Serious claims by nature of injury disease, 2017–18p

 

Serious claims by occupation, 2017–18

Serious claims by occupation, 2017–18p

 

Serious claims by industry, 2017–18

Serious claims by industry 2017–18p

Sources: Safe Work Australia https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/


© Commonwealth of Austr​alia.

Australian Bureau of statistics http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6324.0

Learn More About Our Foundational Safety Leadership Program

Focusing on shifting individual attitudes and mindsets regarding how safety is viewed in the workplace, this program also teaches new skills and knowledge to embed behaviour change at an individual and organisational level.

To find out how we can customise this program for your needs call us on 1300 453 555.

Want to learn how to manage subcontractors?

Learn to effectively manage WHS site risks and performance by learning how to effectively select, manage and monitor the complex and difficult world of subcontractors.

Find out more by downloading the course outline below, contact us here or call us on 1300 453 555.

More from our blog

Labour hire – what are your WHS obligations?

Labour hire – what are your WHS obligations?

When hiring labour, no one should assume that someone else is taking care of health and safety. Everyone in the chain is required to know who is doing what and work together  so risks are eliminated or minimised.

With major construction and infrastructure projects all over the country requiring large workforces, industry is increasingly turning to labour hire to fill the gaps in the workforce.
So what are your WHS obligations to labour hire workers?

Safe Work Australia has published a guide titled ‘Labour hire: duties of persons conducting a business or undertaking’ which provides information for all parties on complying with their health and safety duties for labour hire under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws. This is for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), and those involved in the supply of workers (labour hire PCBUs) to work for another business or undertaking (host PCBUs).

Essentially, when hiring labour, no one should assume that someone else is taking care of health and safety. Everyone in the chain is required to know who is doing what and work together with other duty holders so risks are eliminated or minimised as far as is reasonably practicable. What is reasonably practicable will depend on the circumstances.

According to Safe Work Australia, before you engage labour hire workers to carry out work, PCBU’s should consider:

  • Providing the labour hire PCBU/s with detailed information about the nature of work to be carried out, including details of, and where possible supporting material, relating to:
    • The work environment/s
    • Tasks to be performed
    • Accommodation arrangements
    • Any known hazards or risks
    • Any plant or equipment to be used
    • Organisational and WHS arrangements, including supervision arrangements and any other organisations responsible for the worker during the arrangement
    • Health and safety risks associated with the work, and
    • Any skills, knowledge, licenses and qualifications required to safely undertake the work.
  • Verifying, in consultation with the labour hire PCBU, that the selected worker/s have any necessary qualifications, licences, skills and training to carry out the work safely. In limited circumstances, you may be required to verify the worker/s are medically fit to carry out the work (see regulations 168 and 417(3)(b) of the model WHS Regulations)
  • Discussing with the labour hire PCBU, arrangements for health monitoring and vaccinations
  • Consulting with the labour hire PCBU/s on WHS matters including information in relation to who will provide any necessary equipment such as personal protective equipment (PPE), and relevant points of contact for health and safety between the organisations
  • Ensuring that general health and safety information about the work, workplace and work environment has been provided to the worker/s. Check that you have provided this information in a way that is suitable, adequate and readily understandable for the worker/s
  • Eliminating or, if that is not reasonably practicable, minimising risks in the workplace
  • Establishing, in consultation with the labour hire PCBU/s, a review process for ensuring the ongoing WHS of workers, and
  • Any more you can do to ensure the health and safety of all your workers.

The guide also covers what PCBUs need to do while labour hire is engaged in the project, as well as the obligations of those of the PCBUs involved in the supply of workers.

Source: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/media-centre/news/new-guidance-labour-hire-available

 

Want to learn how to manage subcontractors?

Learn to effectively manage WHS site risks and performance by learning how to effectively select, manage and monitor the complex and difficult world of subcontractors.

Find out more and download the course outline below or call us on 1300 453 555.