How do lockdowns impact the mental health of employees?

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 14 October, 2021 - 12:45
Industry news
South Australia

There have been around 170 directions issued in South Australia since the start of the pandemic, and with each direction comes new rules, according to Martin Haese, CEO of Business SA.

Determining the interplay with existing arrangements each time is complex, to say the least, said Haese: “add to that the speed with which the details need to be understood, and it is small wonder why people are under pressure.”

WHS professionals play a key role by informing, guiding and advising businesses to maintain safe systems and practices, added Haese, who was speaking ahead of the AIHS South Australian 2021 Safety Symposium, which will be held on Friday 22 October 2021 at the Adelaide Zoo.

“WHS has probably never been as complex as in the last 18 months since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” Haese said.

Business SA recently conducted a July lockdown survey which examined the experiences of business, from the material cost of the lockdown to the broader impacts felt by business owners, managers and staff.

“Aside from the economic cost to South Australia, we learnt that there was a more insidious cost from the lockdown – the cost to mental health,” said Haese.

“A staggering 73 per cent of respondents told us the July lockdown impacted the mental health of the business owner or their staff. Business owners are typically a resilient lot, it’s in their very DNA.

“However, with the extent of COVID impacts to date, including from border closures, even the hardiest are really struggling.

“The impact of the pandemic has forced us all to reprioritise and, in the meantime, changes in legislation still continue.”

Haese said now is a good time to get back to basics and ensure WHS systems and everything that underpins it is up-to-date, including factoring in mental health as a key component.

“I would encourage all business owners and WHS professionals to consider an audit of policies, procedures, practices and training to ensure that everyone can go home from work each day safe,” said Haese.


Haese will present what small and medium enterprises need from WHS professionals at the AIHS South Australian 2021 Safety Symposium, which will be held on Friday 22 October 2021 at the Adelaide Zoo. For more information, call (03) 8336 1995, email or visit the event website.