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Working well: An organisational approach to preventing psychological injury

Working well: An organisational approach to preventing psychological injury

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Comcare Publication
Working Well:
An Organisational Approach To Preventing Psychological Injury


Source: Comcare.

Many employees will at times feel that they are not coping well at work for a variety of reasons.
Some of these employees will experience some degree of stress as a result. While many people have strategies to deal with these situations, work-related stress becomes a concern where it is intense or sustained for such a time that it causes ill-health, psychological injury and workers’ compensation claims. Where significant numbers of employees experience the effects of stress at work, the problem can assume organisational proportions. Stress that has such harmful effects is now being recognised as a major workplace issue with significant costs for organisations, individuals and their families.

The factors that contribute to a psychological injury are many, and different prevention strategies may be required, depending on the factors prevailing in the particular organisation, workplace or work team. This publication from Comcare provides information to assist Australian government organisations to design and implement strategies to manage work-related stress and prevent psychological injury.  It provides information on the major causes of stress and psychological injury. It also covers evidence-based interventions for minimising the adverse impact of these factors, as indicated by international and Australian research and analysis of Comcare claims data.

Comcare recommends that agencies adopt a systematic and structured approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) risk management.

A four step process to risk management is recommended, involving:

1.Identifying the sources of potential harm to employee health and wellbeing.

2. Systematically assessing the risk of employees being harmed.

3.Developing and implementing a plan to:
a) address the workplace factors that are risks of psychological injury (primary intervention);
b) minimise the impact of stress on employees (secondary intervention);
c) provide safe and effective rehabilitation and return to work for individuals once an injury has occurred (tertiary intervention); and

4. Monitoring and reviewing the implementation and effectiveness of interventions against agreed performance indicators and targets to ensure continuous improvement.

Source:  Comcare

Download Now:

Comcare Publication
Working Well:
An Organisational Approach To Preventing Psychological Injury


Body stressing leading serious claim cause

Body stressing leading serious claim cause

Latest data from Safe Work Australia shows that the leading cause of serious claims (that result in one or more weeks off work) is body stressing. Of the total 106,260 claims that were made during the 2016-2017 reporting period, 40,330 or 38% related to body stressing.*

Typical body stressing injuries include muscle strains, back conditions, and tendonitis/tenosynovitis. Some work practices involving lifting, sustaining postures, and using repetitive movements may increase your risk. Recent research found that stress in the workplace may also directly influence your risk of body stressing injury.

Typical warning signs of body stress injuries include:

  • regular feelings of discomfort or pain
  • tired all the time/sick and run down
  • not getting things done at work
  • feeling overwhelmed by your workload
  • lacking in confidence or unable to concentrate
  • feeling stressed at work
  • needing to take extra time off work

How to avoid body stressing injuries:

It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure a safe workplace. There are several things you can do to reduce your personal risk of body stress injuries. These include:

  • Take regular breaks. Move around, especially if you have a sedentary job.
  • Seek assistance to establish a safe working environment.
  • Contribute to safe working practices by talking to your manager.
  • Talk to someone early if you are feeling the symptoms of body stressing.

There are excellent resources online. For example, you can download this handy Comcare guide to preventing body stressing injury.

*Source: Safe Work Australia

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How to Listen in 8 Simple Steps

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Good communication has long been regarded as a foundation skill of strong leaders. With communication skills, a leader can build trust and robust relationships. They can successfully develop their teams, improve results and influence others. Core to communication is mastering listening. Why do we all need to listen? Because this is the way we learn, understand, empathise, help and be entertained.

We’ve identified 8 simple steps to take to become a master listener!

Put away phones and laptops. Move to a quiet room with no distractions. Or even take a walk. It’s a great way to talk and listen.

Stay present in the conversation. Don’t let your mind drift to other things. Don’t forget to pay attention to body language – body language is all part of how we communicate with one another.

Imagine you’re walking in the other person’s shoes. Even though it can be hard, try seeing things from their point of view. By leaning slightly forward, the other person thinks you’re interested in hearing more.

When you look someone in the eye, it tells the other person that they have your undivided attention. Nodding your head also reiterates that you’re present in the conversation. Be aware not to fidget or slouch – this is body language that betrays boredom and disinterest. React to what the other person is saying, it shows you’re interested

When you interrupt, it shows you aren’t really listening. If you do interrupt, apologise immediately and ask the person to continue.

By asking questions, like “what happened next?” or by offering validation, such as “I agree”, you can move the conversation forward.

If you criticise someone, they won’t confide in you again. Even if you disagree with what the person is saying to you, stay non-judgemental. Once the person finishes speaking, you can calmly state your counterargument.

When it’s your turn to speak, be respectful but honest. Be polite. If you want to strengthen your relationship with the other person, offer your opinion and feelings in return.

Like these steps to becoming a master listener? Download the How to listen checklist to keep as a handy reference.

For more information on our leadership communication programs, visit our leadership programs page.

Ready to elevate your communication capacity?

Want a communication program customised for your workplace and industry?
Call 1300 453 555 or email

Find out more about BSB42015 Certificate IV in Leadership and Management>>

As heat rises, so do safety risks

As heat rises, so do safety risks

With summer fast approaching, it’s time to think about staying safe when you’re working in high temperatures. During hot temperatures, people become susceptible to a range of heat related medical issues, including dehydration, heat rash, heat cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion and even life-threatening heat stroke.

Heat illness occurs when the body cannot sufficiently cool itself. Factors that contribute to this include:

  • temperature
  • humidity
  • amount of air movement
  • radiant temperature of surroundings
  • clothing
  • physical activity (metabolic heat load)

We created a simple, useful first aid guide to heat related illnesses for you to download and keep.

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How you can run an effective toolbox/pre-start meeting

Toolbox or pre-starts talks are interactive safety sessions that help focus a workforce on safety. They take place prior to the beginning of a work shift and they are an opportunity for an organisation to ensure that its entire workforce is fit for duty.

Alternatively, toolbox and pre-start meetings can be a deadly-dull talkfest, with team members tuned out and bored, which ultimately represents a waste of everyone’s time.

If it’s your job to run the toolbox or pre-start meetings, we’ve compiled these six handy tips to help you ensure that your meetings are a great investment of time and remain an effective way to convey your safety messaging to the rest of the team.

1. Engagement is key

If it’s your job to run the meeting, it is on you to give your audience a reason to pay attention. The good news is that ensuring audience engagement is a technique that you can master.

Engagement is the combined result of your content (how interesting and relevant it is) and how the meeting is managed. Managing a meeting well involves planning ahead of time, careful selection of fresh content, as well as your delivery style – all of which are discussed below.

2. Plan your meeting ahead of time

Toolbox or pre-start meetings should be brief and held regularly. Many workplaces hold pre-starts daily and toolboxes weekly, although if you have a high, constant rotation of contractors coming in and out of your workplace, you might consider holding more frequent meetings. They usually last up to 15 minutes in duration.

First, draw up an agenda. Items to plan for include your goals of the meeting, the list of topics you’ll cover, when and where it will be held, and make sure you allow time for contractors and workers to provide feedback on any workplace health and safety issues they have. While some organisations have templates, there is nothing wrong with mixing up the order to keep things fresh.

Familiarise yourself with your topic. When you know your material well, you’ll be more relaxed when talking about it and curly questions won’t throw you off easily either.

Finally, you should plan for how you’ll get your meeting back on track if it wanders off-course. If you’re faced with someone who keeps interrupting, be direct and firm that the meeting has to move forward, and let them know you are open to discussing the issue with them after the meeting has ended.

3. Be clear what you’re trying to achieve

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else. Like all meetings, you need to be clear about what you’re trying to achieve and share this information with people attending your toolbox/pre-start meeting.

Often, people use these meetings to encourage behavioural change. If this applies to you, what questions might you ask your colleagues and team members? What other important points can be raised? What techniques will you use to keep the engagement levels up?

Reinforce your key messages. You can check how well your messaging is understood by asking your participants to repeat back information or give you examples of what your meeting covered, for example, hazards and how to avoid them. Towards the end of your meeting, do a wrap-up to reinforce important safety points.

4. Mix up your content

The point of a toolbox/pre-start meeting is to share timely and important information about the workplace, safety and other topics that might affect your audience. Content might include specific job safety instructions, changes in job procedures and work practice, changes in rules, processes and regulations, equipment, client expectations and other relevant information.

Give examples of experiences you and others might have had that help focus the topics so they are directly relevant to the work everyone does and demonstrate your points by incorporating interactivity. For example, ask “Who else has experienced something similar?”, or “What effect would that have on us?” While statistics are good, stories are even better.

Avoid repetition. Repeating yourself over and over leads to disengagement by your audience.

Consider opening your meeting with positive feedback. Are there safety role models or actions taken that can be singled out for recognition? You’ll create a great first impression by recognising team members who have actively worked to keep their workplace safe. A simple certificate, printed in-house, and delivered in front of their peers can be a very powerful symbol and reinforce to everyone the priority the organisation places on safety.

Using examples and real equipment makes safety more tangible and engaging.

Think ahead about your method of delivery  – keeping messages positive and mixing up your content helps engagement.

5. Your delivery style does make a difference

Keeping your presentation style informal, positive and conversational will help enormously with ensuring the effectiveness of your toolbox meeting. Make and keep eye contact – and never just read to people. Nothing is more boring than being read to for any length of time.

Nobody wants to be “talked at” either, so encourage participation from others to keep the meeting interactive. Asking open-ended questions is a great way to get others talking (what and how are great question starters). Another tip is to ask questions early while everyone is still fresh. Keep your language simple and short, and avoid industry jargon and slang.

By letting others contribute, while you nod or smile in acknowledgement, you’ll encourage further discussion that leads to positive change. If it’s relevant, you can always ask for more information from participants to keep the discussion moving forward and, because you’ve carefully planned your meeting, you will have strategies up your sleeve to take back control if the meeting wanders off-course.

Finally, practice ahead of time so that you are feeling extra confident about your delivery.

6. Consider rotating the meeting management role

Increasingly in organisations, everyone is considered a safety leader. Some organisations use this principle as the basis for rotating the role of toolbox or pre-start meeting leader amongst different team members. This might be a great way to reinforce safety leadership at an individual level, develop an appreciation for the effort that goes into planning and managing a toolbox meeting, and encourage everyone to learn valuable leadership skills. It also provides a direct incentive to everyone to pay attention in toolbox meetings, so that they are prepared when it’s their turn.

By mixing up who delivers toolbox or pre-start meetings, you take advantage of individual approaches and perspectives, and allow for innovation by different team members. While one person might be interested in structure, another might be interested in statistics and so a natural by-product of rotating the role is that content remains fresh and engaging.

Want to elevate your Toolbox Talks?

Effective Safety Consultation Program

This program focuses on helping participants generate genuine two-way communication.

Get the skills to:

  • Conduct effective and engaging Toolbox Talks, Pre-Start and safety meetings
  • Gain employees’ and team members’ attention and get them motivated about safety
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Being part of a major project is an exciting, medium-term commercial opportunity for businesses of all sizes in Australia. Typically, a major contract is won by a large contractor or consortium, which then enters into commercial agreements with many subcontractor businesses, thus providing employment to hundreds (even thousands) of workers over a multi-year period.

Executing a major project has many challenges. Among them is taking a large, diverse team of skilled workers, often drawn from markedly different organisations, and creating the conditions where they come together to think, work, behave and collaborate as one. This cohesiveness is not easy to achieve considering every organisation brings in its own different processes and policies, which may need to be set aside in order to properly comply with site rules.

Setting up workers for project success

For workers employed as contractors in a project, they need to represent their employer well so that their employer is rehired for other projects. To do this, though, you need to prepare teams so that they clearly know where they fit in and what the head contractor’s expectations will be.

To set up workers for success, we’ve identified five key factors that help organisations to transition workers into their best representatives on a major project.

  1. Let your workers know how you’d like them to represent your company.
  2. Create a shared goal and help workers understand their role in achieving it.
  3. Help workers understand the balance between requirements, policies and processes of head contractor versus their own.
  4. Work with your team to bridge any gaps between your policies, and processes – and that of your head contractor.
  5. Make sure everyone understands the benefits of collaboration and cohesiveness.

Three tips for head contractors

If you are the head contractor, how do you best manage sub-contractors? We think these two factors are important:

  1. Let your subcontractors know your expectations regarding how they represent their organisation within a sub-contractor status.
  2. Clarify your expectations of all employees by explaining what’s in it for them and with information about how to conduct themselves.

It’s not difficult to manage your workers moving from project to project with different contractors.

Most teams want to perform well and represent their employer to the best of their ability. From their perspective, good performance improves the opportunity for their employer to be hired on subsequent projects.

By providing your teams with an understanding of the above, the bigger picture, your expectations and where they fit into ithem, workers will soon understand what to look for and how to behave on each and every project.

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.

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