Responding to work-related stress reports and injuries
There are many stakeholders that play a part in ensuring that work-related stress is prevented and managed effectively in the workplace, particularly employers, employees and OSH Personnel.
All employee reports of work-related stress and psychological injuries as a result of work-related stress need to be investigated in a timely manner. The investigation should identify all the factors that contributed to development of the injury or work –related stress occurring. An investigation will assist in preventing future exposure of employees to psychological risk factors and improve the organisation’s approach to preventing psychological injuries in the future. Investigations should not be about finding someone to blame, rather looking for ways to prevent or minimise employees being exposed to psychological risk factors in the future.
Injury management and support
Workplace Rehabilitation and Injury Management may be required for physical or psychological injury following exposure to work-related stress. The appropriate Injury Management / Rehabilitation Coordinator within your workplace must be consulted immediately if an injury has possibly been sustained. The Injury Management / Rehabilitation Coordinator will assist with the rehabilitation process and with lodgment of a Workers’ Compensation claim as needed.
Ideally, managers should continue to follow up with employees who have reported an injury to ensure their safety and health, and provide support. Additional counselling may be required on an on-going basis for the employee. Managers involved in supporting and helping other employees may also benefit from counselling for debriefing and support.
Early intervention is the key to supporting employees who experience work-related stress. Ideally, early intervention means assisting an employee before symptoms develop into an injury. However, this may not be possible as employees may not report their symptoms to their employer before an injury develops. In this case, as soon as the employer is made aware of the injury, an early intervention program should be commenced, where appropriate.
Seven key elements to early intervention for preventing psychological injury
- Develop procedures for early intervention on how to support employees exhibiting early warning signs. The policy or guidelines should state that support is provided regardless of whether the employee has submitted a Workers’ Compensation claim, or whether their claim has been accepted.
- Providing training and information to line managers on the early warning signs, and how to respond appropriately.
- Ensure early contact is made with the employee to offer assistance.
- Engage early and expert assessment to identify employee needs.
- Ensure the employee and supervisor are involved in developing an agreed plan to enable the employee to remain at work or return to work.
- Employee to access to effective medical treatment and evidence-based therapeutic interventions if there is a psychological condition.
- Provide flexible workplace solutions to support the individual at work.
(Adapted from Comcare publication, First to Action: Early Intervention to Support Psychological Health and Wellbeing, July 2010).
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