Mental health issues are a serious OHS concern.

Mental health issues are a serious OHS concern.

When most businesses discuss work health and safety, it’s natural for them to focus mainly on any potential dangers or risks that could put an employee or customer in physical harm.

However, Safe Work Australia is this month reminding Australian organisations that complete occupational health and safety awareness also encompasses mental health as well.

Safe Work Australia Chief Executive Officer Rex Hoy says that mental stress is a “serious problem” for many Australian employees, as well as the family and friends of those employees.

He is encouraging Australian workers to use the first ever Safe Work Australia Month – running during October – as an opportunity to think carefully about the importance of mental health.

“Take the initiative and leave work on time or go for a walk at lunch time to get out of the workplace and get some fresh air,” said Mr Hoy in a statement released by Safe Work Australia earlier this month.

“Help fellow workers reduce stress levels by encouraging them to take regular breaks from work or participate in workplace activities during safety month.”

Mental health and stress issues are serious problems in Australia. A study conducted by Work Safe Australia in 2012 placed the cost of workplace “burn outs” to Australian businesses at around $20 billion per year.

Furthermore, when stressed and unfocused, employees in high risk positions such as construction jobs or handling of dangerous goods may find themselves at an increased risk of physical injury as well.

It is therefore the responsibility of all Australian employers and employees to ensure that everyone on the job feels safe and happy in their position, and remains in a healthy state of mind.

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