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Which industries have the highest rates of work-related harassment and bullying claims?

Which industries have the highest rates of work-related harassment and bullying claims?

On February 28, 2020, Safe Work Australia released the 2019 ‘Psychosocial health and safety and bullying in Australian workplaces’ annual statement.

Psychosocial health is the physical, mental and social state of a person. The nationally accepted definition of workplace bullying is the ‘repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety’ (Fair Work Act 2009, s.789FD(1).

Workplace bullying occurs when:

  • An individual or group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker or a group of workers at work,
    and
  • The behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

The following behaviours could also be considered as bullying, based on cases heard:

  • Aggressive and intimidating conduct.
  • Belittling or humiliating comments.
  • Victimisation.
  • Spreading malicious rumours.
  • Practical jokes or initiation.
  • Exclusion from work-related events, and
  • Unreasonable work expectations.

Reasonable management action conducted in a reasonable manner does not constitute workplace bullying.

This report presents the statistics of workers compensation claims when the work-related injury or disease resulted from the person experiencing mental stress or being exposed to mentally stressful situations. The report excludes assault cases where the physical injuries were considered more serious than the mental stress involved in the incident.

The mental stress claims data includes a sub-category for work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying. This sub-category is given to claims when the employee was a victim of:

  • Repetitive assault and/or threatened assault by a work colleague or colleagues, or
  • Repetitive verbal harassment, threats, and abuse from a work colleague or colleagues.

This is the fifth annual national statement issued by Safe Work Australia.

Note: Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because Victorian data is not coded to that level of detail.

Key statistics in the report

 

Rates for both mental stress and harassment and/or bullying claims have risen over the last two years but they are less than the peak in 2010–11. Jurisdictional legislation is highly likely to have influenced the scope of claims involving mental stress over the reporting period.
 

Figure 1. Number, time lost, direct cost, frequency rate and incidence rate for mental stress claims, 2016–17

*Victoria only provides data on the top-level category of mental stress claims, so is included in the total but not the breakdown of sub‑categories. As a result, figures for the total mental stress claims may not equal the sum of columns.

**The Other harassment sub-category includes victims of sexual or racial harassment by a person or persons including work colleague/s.

Notes:

  1. The mechanism of incident classification identifies the overall action, exposure or event that best describes the circumstances that resulted in the most serious injury or disease.
  2. In previous statements, the amount of median compensation paid were calculated after excluding ‘zero dollar’ claims. In this report, all serious claims (including ‘zero dollar’ claims) have been included in calculations.

 

 Claims for harassment and/or bullying made by female employees were more than twice as high as the rate of these claims made by males over the three years 2015–16 to 2017–18 combined. Similarly, the rates for claims made by females relating to work pressure and exposure to workplace or occupational violence were more than twice that of similar claims made by males.

 

Figure 2. Frequency rates by sex and mental stress sub-category, 2015–16 to 2017–18p combined

 

Note: Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because its data are not coded to that level of detail.


 Occupations with a high risk of exposure to work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying include:

  • Other miscellaneous and administrative workers*(includes coding clerks, production assistants, proof readers, radio dispatchers & examination supervisors.
  • Other clerical and office support workers group** includes classified advertising clerks, meter readers & parking inspectors.
  • Other miscellaneous labourers.

Figure 3. Top 10 occupations with the highest frequency rates of work-related harassment and/or bullying, 2015–16 to 2017–18 combined.

*** Police in Western Australian are covered by a separate workers’ compensation scheme and not included in the data.

Notes:

  1. Industries are limited to those associated with more than 50 claims.
  2. Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because its data are not coded to that level of detail.

Industry groups with high rates of claims involving work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying include Public order and safety services; Civic, Professional and other interest group services; and Residential care services.

 

4. Top 10 industry groups with the highest frequency rates of work-related harassment and/or bullying, 2015–16 to 2017–18 combined

 

* Police in Western Australian are covered by a separate workers’ compensation scheme and not included in the data.

Notes:

  1. Industries are limited to those associated with more than 50 claims.
  2. Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because its data are not coded to that level of detail.

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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?

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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.

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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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BSB41415 Certificate IV in WHS

The BSB41415 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.

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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?

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Why sleep is your superpower

Why sleep is your superpower

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 hours a night recommended) showed a difference between a clear-headed day at work or one filled with distractions.

At the point of sleep deprivation (less than 6.5 hours a night) the likelihood of a workplace accident increases by 70%.

In this deep dive TED Talk into the science of slumber, Matt Walker shares the good things that happen when you get good sleep — and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don’t (with some surprising insights for men) on both your brain and body.

This includes sleep’s impact on your learning, memory, immune system and even your genetic code — as well as some helpful tips for getting some shut-eye.

 


Sources

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133605.htm
https://www.americansafetycouncil.com/content/osha-10-safety/


Need to get your people focused on all aspects of safety?

Download the Safety Leadership Foundation Program course outline or call us on 1300 453 555.

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 transform your organisation's safety culture?

Download Course OutlinesSafety Dimensions offers accredited and non-accredited leadership training for leaders, safety professionals and employees to support organisations to effectively deal with safety performance challenges.

We can train anywhere in Australia and our programs can be customised for your workplace and industry. Download our program guide.

Call 1300 453 555 or email info@safetydimensions.com.au

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Soldiering On? Codeine Products Now Prescription Only

Soldiering On? Codeine Products Now Prescription Only

Is your workforce “soldiering on” through colds, flu and pain with products that contain codeine?

From 1 Feb 2018 they’ll need a prescription for over-the-counter medicines containing codeine. This has implications for organisations who conduct drug and alcohol testing and for industries and occupations where a worker could kill or seriously injure themselves, another worker or a member of the public.

Have you updated your workforce regarding the change?
Has it been discussed at Toolbox talks?

THE BACKGROUND

What is codeine ?

Codeine is the most common form of the opiate (morphine-like) class of drugs, a narcotic used to treat pain by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It is used in common over-the-counter pain relievers.

Effects include drowsiness, confusion, erratic behaviour, tiredness, poor concentration, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, and sweating. Side effects of Codeine can seriously impact Workplace Health & Safety, especially for jobs that involve driving, machinery and high risk work.

Why is codeine now prescription only ?

Codeine is recognised as a drug of dependency by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. This is based on the evidence of harm caused by overuse and abuse of medicines – and that medicines containing codeine for pain relief offered very little additional benefit when compared to similar medicines without codeine. Thus codeine products have become prescription only.

What do the changes to codeine mean and what should your company do?

Given codeine has been in so many over-the-counter medications people may have used every day over a long period, there is a strong need to educate your workforce from a duty-of-care perspective.

Let your people know

Make people aware of the full list of codeine-based products previously available over-the-counter, which from 1 February 2018 requires them to have a prescription from a doctor.  View the list on the right, and see what the common brand names are.

Update your company policy

Depending on your company policy, people using codeine medications may be required to obtain a letter of verification that the use is not of a dependent nature, even if it was purchased before the cut-off date. This would be something to explore quickly, given the change is already in force.

Make people aware of the withdrawal symptoms and where to find help

It is important to be aware of codeine withdrawal symptoms. Without a prescription, some people may run out and suddenly stop taking it which may cause withdrawal symptoms.

Let your people know that if they are withdrawing from codeine, they should seek medical advice, as some of the common symptoms start within a few hours after the last dose and become strongest between 48 and 72 hours.

Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Cravings for codeine
  • Dilated pupils
  • Abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • A runny nose and sneezing
  • Yawning and difficulty sleeping
  • Trembling, aching muscles and joints
  • Goosebumps, fever, chills, sweating
  • Restlessness, irritability, nervousness, depression

Next steps

For those organisations who conduct drug testing, it is important for you to advise your employees they now require a prescription for any medication containing codeine.  Failure to provide a prescription if codeine is found in their system will be in breech of policy.  You may wish to seek out an expert to help you revise your organisational Drug and Alcohol Policy and educate and inform your workforce.

The easiest and most effective way to deliver this to the workforce is is via an effective Toolbox Talk or Lunch and Learn where you explain the change to codeine use and your company policy, including the implications for a breech.

Safety Dimensions can help you with communicating safety messages effectively through either consultancy or our courses, both accredited and non-accredited. Email us on info@safetydimensions.com.au or contact 1300 453 555.

Need training in communicating safety messages to your people?

Check out our programs below to help you communicate more effectively like our Effective Safety Consultation Program.
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WHAT PRODUCTS ARE NOW PRESCRIPTION ONLY?

Codeine may also be known by a brand or trade name. Some of these common brands are:

Generic Name / Brand names
Aspirin and codeine  / Aspalgin®, Codral Cold & Flu Original®
Ibuprofen and codeine / Nurofen Plus®
Paracetamol and codeine / Panadeine Forte®, Panamax Co®
Paracetamol, codeine and doxylamine / Mersyndol® and Mersyndol Forte®, Panalgesic®1

VIEW THE FULL LIST >>

HELP RESOURCES

More about withdrawal from codeine visit:
https://adf.org.au/alcohol-drug-use/supporting-a-loved-one/withdrawal

NPS MedicineWise
www.nps.org.au

Pain Australia
www.painaustralia.org.au

painHEALTH
https://painhealth.csse.uwa.edu.au

Australian Pain Management Association
www.painmanagement.org.au

Ask Your Pharmacist:
askyourpharmacist.com.au

Pain Link Helpline – 1300 340 357

Healthdirect Australia Advice Line – 1800 022 222
_________________________________

Sources

Therapeutic Goods Association https://www.tga.gov.au/codeine-info-hub
Alcohol and Drug Foundation: https://adf.org.au/help-support/support-services-directory/
Safe Work Australia https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/drugs-alcohol
Arisk Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1uG9Gyf-3U

 

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

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  • Gain employees’ and team members’ attention and get them motivated about safety
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  • Ensure others don’t just hear, but understand safety messages
  • Show confidence as a communicator and leader
  • Apply effective consultation skills to all meetings

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