OFSC information and guidance on managing risks to mental health

20 June 2022

The Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner (OFSC) has launched a new mental health webpage to assist building companies to connect with mental health and wellbeing resources. The new webpage aims to make it easier for building companies to understand their safety obligations in relation to mental health and to connect with support programs including Commonwealth and State/Territory Government Guidelines and codes of practice, resources and toolkits, and other industry initiatives.

Exposure to psychosocial hazards, and the risk of psychological injury as a result, is a serious problem affecting the building and construction industry. This risk is being increasingly recognised by building companies with a November 2021 OFSC survey finding that 94% of company respondents have policies or processes in place to improve mental health at their workplaces. This mental health survey of over 100 companies found that:

  • 53% of companies have an active Employee Assistance Program (EAP) available to staff and their families when they need support
  • 38% of companies run workshops and programs addressing mental health
  • 23% of companies have mental health trained first aid officers available to support staff
  • 26% of companies actively manage rosters to ensure staff are not working excessive overtime hours
  • 23% of companies discuss mental health with their staff at working groups and during toolbox talks.

Federal Safety Commissioner David Denney said, “It is encouraging to see companies trying to support the mental health of their workers. However, there is a strong reliance on EAP. In an industry where the culture of help-seeking is not strong, there are opportunities for companies to be more proactive in response to the risk of poor mental health.”

Commissioner Denney said that the new OSFC website on mental health is designed to give companies access to a broad range of options from which they can pick the one that best suits their company. Over time, the website will be updated with case studies of companies taking innovative approaches to mental health awareness and with webinar material.

Safe Work Australia is currently developing a Model Code of Practice on managing mental health in the workplace. This code will be a very useful guide to help companies improve the health and wellbeing of their workers and enhance the productivity of their business.

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