WorkSafe Victoria recently launched a new strategy to reduce the number of mental injuries at work and improve mental health and wellbeing among the broader workforce.
The mental health strategy 2021-2024 outlines WorkSafe’s plan to prevent mental injury, build capacity for mentally healthy workplaces and support injured workers.
Last year, WorkSafe received 3,518 new mental injury claims. The proportion of all new workplace injury claims that relate to a primary mental injury has grown from nine per cent in 2008, to 13 per cent in 2020.
WorkSafe Victoria CEO Colin Radford said mental injury claims were expected to grow to a third of all claims in the next decade.
“With many adults spending a third of their life at work, mentally healthy workplaces offer huge benefits to workers, their families and communities, and the productivity of their workplaces,” Radford said.
“Mentally healthy workplaces have measures in place to identify and control risks to prevent harm, manage harm when it does occur and support recovery.
“Employers have a responsibility to provide and maintain safe working environments and systems and to control risks to workers’ physical and psychological health.
“By supporting employers to take a prevention-led approach to mental health, WorkSafe aims to create safer workplaces, to reduce harm to workers who suffer a mental injury and support their recovery and safe return to work.”
The strategy has five focus areas: compliance and enforcement, fostering organisational change, awareness through education and training, building an evidence base and supporting innovation.
In order to drive change where it is needed most, workers in high-risk areas will be prioritised. These include:
The strategy accords with the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System final report and is built on the principles of protecting workers and supporting the needs of employers.
Annual action plans to implement the strategy will begin in 2021-2022, with work to align mental health programs with focus areas and priority groups.
This work will be undertaken in collaboration with key partners including the Victorian Department of Health, other government departments and agencies, Beyond Blue, agents, self-insurers, treating health practitioners and employer and employee representatives.