Mental disorders (also known as psychological injury) arising from stress in the workplace have become an increasingly important concern for workers, businesses and the general community. Work-related mental stress claims accounted for an average of 95 per cent of mental disorder claims over the past 10 years. Work-related mental stress claims are expensive because of the often lengthy periods of absence from work. The burden these conditions place on individual workers, business productivity and the Australian economy is substantial.
Psychological injury is often addressed on an individual level without adequate consideration for risk management at the organisational level. During 2012–13 Comcare delivered a campaign to reduce the impact of psychological injuries in the workplace by promoting effective prevention strategies and undertaking targeted compliance activities.
Proactive workplaces inspections using a workplace behaviour risk management checklist. These inspections triggered duty holders to review how their work health and safety policies and procedures could improve workplace conduct and behaviour.
Hosting 13 best practice forums, attended by over 400 workers nationally. The information provided organisations with risk management approaches to recognising and managing psychosocial risks in both a workplace and return to work situation.
Implementing the People at Work risk assessment tool in Comcare scheme workplaces. This tool which identifies psychosocial risk factors and recommends actions for priority areas.
This campaign led to increased capability of duty holders in Comcare's jurisdiction to prevent psychological risks. Targeted organisations have developed strategies to build psychosocial risk management into their work health and safety management systems. In total, 69 different organisations were involved through forums, inspections, and cooperative compliance projects. An evaluation showed participation in these activities has shifted employers' approaches towards preventative risk management to reduce psychological injury.
Comcare is focused on a systems approach to prevent and manage psychological injury and improve return to work and recovery outcomes for workers with psychological injury.
As part of this approach Comcare is developing a systems guide for rehabilitation case managers and line managers to support injured workers back to work and prevent further harm.