What are the most popular safety and mental health topics this year?
2020 has been a year that many of us would like to forget, and a year that has seen many changes to workplace safety and mental health. We’ve had lock-downs and staggered restarts, massive unemployment and continuing disruption. Workplace safety has moved away from general management of risk to managing work arrangements, social distancing and increasing cleaning regimes. The focus on employee mental health is also rapidly on the rise, with many finding the lock-downs and working at home requirements difficult to cope with.
Tap into Safety has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic too, and has been working hard to provide a substantial library of out-of-the-box training courses for immediate use on the Platform. We hope that our Platform can reduce the pressure on time-poor safety, human resource and training professionals in your efforts to keep your employees safe and support their mental health.
For this article, we provide a summary of the most popular safety and mental health articles that our readers have read this year, and the links back to them, just in case you have missed any. It’s always good to see what is of interest to others in your profession. Also, many of these articles are now available on the Tap into Safety Podcast, because you may prefer to listen to them while you work or do other things. You can find us on Anchor, iTunes, Spotify or your favourite podcast providers.
The Most Popular Safety Articles
The most popular safety and mental health article this year is Workplace Hazards and the Hierarchy of Controls. This article discusses the safety hierarchy of controls pyramid which is a systematic workflow to provide the most effective control measure to workplace hazards. The tool is used widely around the world and prescribes a method to always begin with eliminating any hazards that you identify in your workplace.
Where elimination is not practical, you should substitute tools and methods for less hazardous ones, or isolate the task from employees through barriers or screens. Alternatively, you can use engineering controls such as mechanical devices or shut off switches to protect employees from injury.
The top four controls of the hierarchy are the most effective in preventing workplace injury. The two lower-level controls, Administrative controls and PPE are the least effective at minimising risk because they do not control the hazard at the source and rely on human behaviour and supervision.
A second frequently read safety article is How to Make Your WHS Reporting Relevant to Different Audiences. This article looks at the types of reports you need to provide to your employees, managers, Board of Directors, and outside of your organisation. To identify the right information to include in each report, we need to understand the needs and priorities of its intended audience. Understanding how the information will be used not only helps in designing WHS reports but also helps identify and prioritise what should be measured and tracked.
These two are at the top of the list of the most popular safety and mental health articles, with thousands of reads and likes.
The Most Popular Mental Health Articles
The most popular mental health article so far this year is Stigma and Barriers to Mental Health Care. This article discusses research that identifies that the key barriers to help-seeking for mental health issues are:
- Fears regarding confidentiality
- Negative impact on your career
- Managing help around your job
- Not knowing where to seek help
The research suggests five structural actions that may mitigate stigma and barriers to care:
- Offer psychiatric assessment and care in general health care settings instead of district mental health sites to encourage less local knowledge of a person receiving treatment.
- Make that assessment and care routine, rather than based on symptoms, e.g. annual monitoring programmes.
- Offer assessment, feedback and treatments based on bio-behavioural monitoring, e.g. heart rate variability.
- Offer easily accessible self-screening tools and secondary prevention tools online and by digital applications.
- Rely on medical models of psychopathology to mitigate stigma and self-blame.
A second frequently read mental health article is Does Workplace Bullying Have Long Term Effects? Workplace bullying can have severe consequences while it is occurring, but does it have long-term life-changing effects on the victim? And if it does, what does this mean for organisations with bullying and harassment cultures or who have managers and supervisors who resort to workplace bullying to get the job done?
For this article, we look at victims of workplace bullying to determine their long-term psychological and physical health changes. For these employees, bullying included the spreading of rumours and repeated insults aimed at changing the image of the victim and resulting in feelings of guilt, shame and diminishing self-esteem. We conclude the article with primary, secondary and tertiary anti-bullying interventions that organisations can draw on to prevent workplace bullying, support victims and reduce the long-term effects.
These two rounds out the top four of the most popular safety and mental health articles for 2020, also with thousands of reads and likes.
The Most Popular COVID-19 Specific Articles
Our articles focus on safety and mental health to help safety, human resource and training professionals and keep them up-to-date. We wrote several articles that were read and liked during the first wave lockdown and all were popular; however, these two were the most popular safety and mental health COVID-19 articles. They focussed on the pandemic and strategies to use to manage safety and mental health.
- COVID-19: How To Perform a Risk Assessment. For this article, we provide a step-by-step guide on how to perform an effective risk assessment in your organisation to keep employees physically and psychologically safe. In this COVID-19 emergency, SafeWork Australia requires organisations to assess the risks of transmitting the disease through your workplace.
The purpose of a risk assessment is to meet your WHS obligations to eliminate risks where you can or control them when you can’t. Safe Work Australia notes that eliminating and controlling risks in the workplace helps to:
- Prevent and reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries, illnesses and associated costs,
- Promote and improve worker health, wellbeing and capacity to work, and
- Foster innovation and improve the quality and productivity of work.
2. Four COVID-19 Challenges for Safety Managers. This article review research underway at Griffith University that reveals four strategies that safety managers are using to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 restrictions.
First, they are actively working on the transparency and frequency of their communication and updating their workers with information as soon as it comes to hand.
Second, they are adapting the normal system of work to suit the changing COVID-19 conditions and embedding conversations about safety and wellbeing into their organisation’s culture.
Third, they are developing a relationship-focused leadership style that emphasises the human struggles and concerns raised by workers to build team bonds and a sense of togetherness.
Finally, they are providing reassurances and negotiated arrangements with workers to increase job security and reduce distraction, thereby ensuring continued productivity.
As we continue our march through 2020 and what has been a year many of us would prefer to forget, most of us will emerge stronger and more resilient. However, others are struggling and will need ongoing support.
These top six most popular safety and mental health articles for 2020 provide the fundamentals of safety around the safety hierarchy of controls, performing a risk assessment, reporting, and managing the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting across our workplace. The two mental health articles look at addressing the barriers to mental health care and the effects of workplace bullying.
The six articles we feature here, link back to the underpinning research papers and reports. They also link to other articles that support these topics to provide more insight and guidance. We hope they help you during this challenging time.