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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Climate change

Climate change
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New Zealand

“Changing the work environment is more effective than asking people to become more resilient in an unsafe situation.”

And with that remark Dr Michelle Tuckey summed up the essence of her message to the HealthyWork conference in Auckland last month: that psychosocial hazards arise from the way work is organised. To tackle bullying by focusing only on the individuals involved, therefore, will only ever be a partial and probably unsustainable solution.

Tuckey, from the University of South Australia, described the work she and her associates have done to take data over eight years from the Australian Workplace Barometer to derive an index called the psychosocial safety climate (PSC), which measures the value an organisation places on employee mental health and wellbeing.

“PSC is like the cause of the causes of work stress.”

PSC, she said, has four domains, the first being management commitment – where senior managers act quickly to address issues which affect psychosocial health. Second comes management priority, where managers make it clear they consider psychosocial health to be of great importance. Third is organisational communication, where staff feel their contributions to resolving H&S concerns are listened to; and fourth is organisational participation, where people are encouraged to become involved in psychosocial issues.

Crunching the numbers, the research shows organisations with a PSC of greater than 41 are at low risk of psychosocial harm (the top score possible is 60), while those with a PSC of less than 37 are at high risk.

Studies of hospitals – notorious for their psychosocial risks – show that PSC also affects injuries: data presented by Tuckey showed hospitals with a good PSC had half the reported near misses – for staff and for patients – than those with poor PSC.

Looking at bullying specifically, she said while it might appear like a relationship problem, the underlying causes are organisational. “If we want to have good mental health we need to change the underlying risks inherent in the organisation.”

Dealing with bullying by more staff training – the ‘be nice to each other’ intervention – can only be of any value if the work environment is also addressed.

“It’s part of the solution, but they put all the responsibility on the individual. It’s a barrel issue but the focus is on the apples.”

Reading 5500 pages of information contained in 342 bullying complaints lodged with SafeWork South Australia revealed three main risk contexts: coordinating and administrating working hours; managing work performance; and shaping relationships and the work environment.

This work has led to the creation of a risk audit tool currently under development.

Concluding, Tuckey noted one company had made behaviour count for 50 percent of each person’s performance assessment score. “What if we set KPIs around the psychosocial health of workers?”



People Mentioned:
Michelle Tuckey
Organisations Mentioned:
University of South Australia
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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