Workplace health and safety is not only about physical injury prevention. Just as important, and becoming more prolific in people’s workdays is the psychological wellbeing of employees.
What’s the role of a workplace health and safety officer?
As a Workplace health and safety (WHS) professional, it will be your responsibility to provide a work environment that minimises the potential impact of stress in the workplace, while also providing support to employees who may be experiencing a psychological injury.
How does workplace injury impact business?
When employees claim work-related mental health issues, the financial cost to the business can be significant. Often the employee faces lengthy periods of absence from work that can severely affect productivity. As a result, there are major consequences for the Australian economy, with estimates putting the impact at $10.9 billion per year.
This has caused a big push for businesses to take the matter seriously, which means there will be an increasing number of opportunities for those considering WHS as a career path.
Due to this potential cost to business, along with the moral obligation that business owners have to provide a safe working environment, implementing preventative measures is clearly beneficial to all stakeholders. Therefore, as a WHS professional, you’ll be required to employ effective business-wide strategies to reduce the risk to staff of this ever-increasing work-place issue.
What measures can be taken?
No matter the size of a business, there are many measures that can be taken to reduce the instances of psychological injuries, and support employees who may experience work-related stress issues.
- Ensure mental health information is readily available at work
- Make the staff aware of their responsibility to look after themselves and each other
- Encourage open communication about mental health to reduce the stigma
- As a WHS professional, make sure you’re trained to approach and engage someone suspected of having a mental health issue
- Increase confidence in staff to ask their colleagues if something is wrong
- Let staff know what you’re doing as a business to provide a supportive working environment
- Inform staff of support services available to them and encourage their use
- Provide the right support for staff to either stay at work or get the help they need in order to return to work
- Encourage open communication about managing workloads, tasks and hours
- Encourage staff to talk about how they’d like to complete their work duties
- Prevent bullying in the workplace through the promotion of respect and adopting a zero-tolerance policy
- Give regular performance appraisals, by providing constructive criticism and rewarding outstanding performance
- Ensure job roles are clear and understood
How do I become a Workplace Health and Safety officer?
Do you think you’re the kind of person who would like to help prevent injury – both physical and mental – in the workplace?
Every workplace has both a moral and legal responsibility to provide a safe environment for their employees, and with a nationally recognised qualification you can make yourself attractive to potential employers.
How you acquire your qualifications is totally up to you. A range of opportunities are available and you can complete a relevant course online at your own pace or on campus with other students, through a TAFE or college, at Certificate or Diploma level.