OHS professionals would do well to approach psychological risk management as an opportunity to better position the workplace of the future rather than seeing it as a potential threat, according to Scott Paine, Managing Director of Work Science.
This emerging area presents both risk and opportunity, and the biggest challenges for OHS are cutting through the noise, identifying the problem and then tackling it with tangible action, said Paine.
“There is so much information available. People are aware of the topic, but are asking themselves what really is the problem? How do we fix it?
“Our traditional safety approaches won’t work in the psychosocial arena so we need to develop new approaches, thinking both critically and creatively.”
Paine was speaking ahead of the Strengthening Approaches to Workplace Mental Health online conference, held in partnership between The Australian Institute of Health & Safety and The Hatchery from 9–10 December 2020.
He also acknowledged that many professionals are “spectacularly busy” when it comes to making sustainable change for the better – but such professionals need to be clear about what they are achieving.
“I think we should take the time to destigmatise the psychosocial arena, capture data, and make evidence-based decisions.
“A common language would also help,” said Paine, who noted the draft Code of Practice and Body of Knowledge help to introduce a common language and frameworks for action.
“I’d hate to see the opportunity to improve workplaces of the future lost because leaders considered this a passing fad,” he said.
Paine also noted that OHS professionals can do a better job of effectively influencing leaders in a bid to make more of a difference.
“To truly influence means getting good health and safety outcomes through others,” he said. “When you see something happen by another’s action, and the aetiology of that action was you, and that person still likes you, you’ve hit the jackpot.”
Paine said there are a number of ways OHS leaders can build connections in order to strengthen psychological risk management.
He said that “empathy, capability and gravitas” are strong signs of this, in addition to a good handle on one’s own mental health.
“Arm yourself with the tools and techniques then pass them on to others,” said Paine, who recommended Genevieve Hawkins’ book Mentally at Work as a useful toolkit for the psychosocial arena.
Paine will be speaking at the Strengthening Approaches to Workplace Mental Health online conference, held in partnership between The Australian Institute of Health & Safety and The Hatchery from 9-10 December 2020. Paine will co-present on “Systems & connection – Why connection matters if we are to unlock potential rather than just control risk”. For more information visit the event website.