Mental Disease

Mental Disease Presentation
June 2013
Brad Parker Assistant Director
WorkCover Tasmania
What we will cover today
Key Findings from a SafeWork Australia Report
Tasmanian Experience
Causes of Mental Stress
Fair Work Australia.
Managing Bullying
Looking Forward
Mental stress claims are the most expensive form of workers’ compensation
claims because of the often lengthy periods of absence from work typical of
these claims.
Mental stress claims are predominantly made by women.
Men and women are more likely to make a claim for mental stress as they
get older but after they reach 54 years the likelihood that they made a claim
More Professionals made claims for mental stress than other any other
occupation with over a third of their claims made for Work pressure.
There were more mental stress claims made for Work pressure than any
other sub-category.
The hazards that result in mental stress claims vary with worker age.
Younger workers are more likely to make claims as a result of Exposure to
workplace or occupational violence, whereas Work pressure is the main
cause of mental stress claims for older workers, peaking for those aged
45–49 years.
General clerks, School teachers and Police Officers accounted for the
majority of claims for Work pressure.
Women were around three times more likely than men to make a workers’
compensation claim due to Work-related harassment &/or workplace
bullying. Approximately one-third of all claims in this mental stress subcategory
were made by workers in the occupational categories of Advanced
clerical & service workers and General clerks.
For the industries with the highest number/rate of mental stress claims, the
majority of claims were for Work pressure. This was particularly true in the
Education sector. Claims for Exposure to workplace or occupational violence
were notable in the Retail trade industry, while the Transport & storage and
Health & community services industries dominated claims for Exposure to a
traumatic event.
A National
Key Observation
The full extent of mental stress in
Australian workplaces (prevalence)
is not known but is likely to be
greater than indicated by workers’
compensation statistics because
not all workers with mental stress
apply for or receive compensation
for their illness.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics
(ABS) Work-related Injuries Survey
2009–10 showed that 70% of
workers who reported they
experienced work-related mental
stress did not apply for workers’
Tasmanian Experience
2009 – 2012
All Claims “Mental Disease”
Mental Disease 2009 – 2012
TSS removed
Greater than 1 week of Lost time
Claims greater than 12 week of Lost time
Claims greater than 12 week of Lost
Work Pressure
Work related harassment / bullying
• Trend would suggest that this is
becoming more prevalent
• Not confined to specific industries
• These types of injuries are preventable
By Gender
Prevalence of Bullying
• “I just want it to stop – Australian Workplace Barometer 6.8% of
employees surveyed in six months prior to survey
• Recent CPSU survey identified that 46% of TSS employees had
witnessed bullying.
• Safework Australia 2009 – estimated 9% (NHEWS Study)
• NZ 2009 Study 3.9% - 17.6%
• The Australian Public Service Commission (the APSC) found that 17
per cent of staff had experienced harassment or bullying at work.
• The Assistant Commissioner of the Productivity Commission (the PC)
stated that ‘it is probably higher than that ... it could be over 15 per
• We are not capturing in whatever studies are done the actual rates of
workplace bullying, which would be far higher than the 22 to 33 per
cent that I have found
• the Productivity Commission estimates that workplace bullying costs
the Australian economy between $6 billion and $36 billion annually
Self Labeling
• Can exacerbate health effects
for low exposure
• Workers experience to intense
bullying have the same health
effect regardless of the labeling
• Typically when we measure
bullying is via self labeling
method or behavioral
experience method
• Key to getting real data is in the
use of a common definition
Definition of Bullying
Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour
directed towards a worker or group of workers that
creates a risk to health and safety
• Repeated behaviour refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can refer to a range
of behaviours over time.
• Unreasonable behaviour means behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard for the
circumstances, would see as victimising, humiliating, undermining or threatening.
• Bullying can involve many different forms of unreasonable behaviour, which can be obvious
(direct) or subtle (indirect).
What isn’t bullying?
Reasonable management actions carried out in a fair
and reasonable way are not bullying.
• Managers have a right to direct the way work is carried out and to monitor and give
feedback on performance.
• Differences of opinion or personality clashes)are generally not considered to be bullying
• However, if the behaviour goes beyond a one-off disagreement, if it increases in intensity or
becomes offensive or harmful to someone, it has the potential to escalate into bullying.
Fair Work Australia
Government’s response to the House of Representatives Standing
Committee on Education and Employment’s report Workplace
Bullying ―We just want it to stop.
The Act will:
• allow a worker who has been bullied at work in a
constitutionally-covered business to apply to the
FWC for an order to stop the bullying;
• adopt a definition of ‘bullied at work’ which is
consistent with the definition of ‘workplace bullying’
recommended by the Committee in its report, and the
proposed Safe Work Australia model Code of
Practice: Preventing and Responding to Workplace
• require the FWC to start dealing with an application
for an order to stop bullying within 14 days of the
application being made; and
• enable the FWC to make any order it considers
appropriate (other than an order for payment of a
pecuniary amount) to stop the bullying.
Manage the
Psychosocial hazards
Probable alignment to TOOCS
Revision 1 Mechanism Mental
stress sub-categories
Job content
Lack of variety or short work cycles,
fragmented or meaningless work, under use of
skills, high uncertainty, continuous exposure to
people through work
Work pressure
Other mental stress factors
Work load & work place
Work overload or under load, machine pacing, Work pressure
high levels of time pressure, continually subject
to deadlines
Work schedule
Shift working, night shifts, inflexible work
schedules, unpredictable hours, long or
unsociable hours
Work pressure
Low participation in decision making, lack of
control over workload, pacing, etc.
Work pressure
Environment & equipment
Inadequate equipment availability, suitability or
maintenance; poor environmental conditions
such as lack of space, poor lighting, excessive
Other mental stress factors
Organisational culture & function
Poor communication, low levels of support for
problem solving and personal development,
lack of definition of, or agreement on,
organizational objectives
Work pressure
Other mental stress factors
Interpersonal relationships at work Social or physical isolation, poor relationships
with superiors, interpersonal conflict, lack of
social support, bullying, harassment
Work-related harassment &/or
workplace bullying
Role in organization
Role ambiguity, role conflict, and responsibility
for people
Work pressure
Career development
Career stagnation and uncertainty, under
promotion or over promotion, poor pay, job
insecurity, low social value to work
Other mental stress factors
Home-work interface
Conflicting demands of work and home, low
support at home, dual career
Other mental stress factors
Sources: Leka & Jain (2010) and ASCC (2008)
What is your organisation doing?
• Does your organisation have an up-to-date policy that sets out standards of acceptable behaviour
and defines bullying, sexual harassment and unlawful discrimination as potential workplace
• Does your organisation have a documented procedure for addressing complaints of workplace
bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination?
• Does your organisation have trained contact persons to whom aggrieved employees can go and talk
about their concerns?
• Do your policies provide for conflicts that do not reach the threshold of workplace bullying?
• Have all managers received training on their responsibilities to prevent and manage complaints of
bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination? Has the organisation kept records of this training?
• Have all managers received training on merit based promotion and recruitment processes? Has the
organisation kept records of this training?
• Have all employees received training on their rights and responsibilities in relation to bullying, sexual
harassment and discrimination? Has the organisation kept records of this training?
• Does your organisation have a performance management policy and system of addressing poor
performance? Have all managers and supervisors with line management responsibility received
training in how to manage employee performance?
Looking Forward
• Fair Work Australia Amendments apply from 1
January 2014
• WorkCover Tasmania developing a Strategy aimed
at reducing the frequency and severity of Bullying
• Survey to determine “Tasmanian experience” –
Identify issues
• Identification of areas where interventions can be
applied to improve outcomes
Mental Disease Presentation
June 2013
Brad Parker Assistant Director
WorkCover Tasmania
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