Mental health focus of WorkSafe month as workplace stress and anxiety lifts

September 30, 2013

by Matt Smith. Mercury. September 30, 2013.

A CARROT and stick approach to workplace safety has reduced the number of injuries in Tasmanian businesses.

But mental health related injuries has grown by 6 per cent in the past year.

With WorkSafe Month officially starting today, Workplace Relations Minister David O’Byrne said improving mental health and wellbeing is a major focus of the program of events to be held across Tasmania during October.

“Mental health has become one of the top five causes of injuries in Tasmanian workplaces,” Mr O’Byrne said.

“In southern Tasmania, 268 people suffered mental diseases, followed by 86 in the North West and 59 in the North.

“The top three industries in which these occurred were health and community services [107 injuries], followed by education with 68 injuries, and government administration and defence recording 48 injuries.”

Mr O’Byrne said businesses were being encouraged to implement strategies to tackle mental illness.

“With nearly half the adult population experiencing a mental illness at some point in their lives, to think it only happens outside work is burying our heads in the sand.

“Providing a healthy and safe workplace benefits all workers, including those with a mental illness.”

Addressing the issues provided benefits for both employees and employers, Mr O’Byrne said.

“Organisations that implement health and wellbeing programs are known to have increased employee morale, reduced workplace injuries and increased attraction and retention rates,” he said.

“Healthy employees are more productive, more engaged in their work, have fewer sick leave days and have greater levels of energy and concentration.”

Mr O’Byrne said workplace injuries had been reduced through a combination of legislative powers and the realisation from business that a happy workplace leads to a safe workplace.

Workplace injuries fell by about 200 incidents last year.

“Last year we had a reduction in injuries, down below 9000 for the first time in Tasmania’s history,” Mr O’Byrne said.

“That is a good news story, but unfortuantly too many Tasmanians are being injured at work.”

WorkSafe Tasmania statistics show 8974 injuries were reported last year. The most common were traumatic joint, ligament, muscle and tendo injuries.

There were 451 mental illness injuries, with 69 per cent relating to anxiety and stress.