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The workplace hazards that create risks of harm to psychological (mental) health are known as psychosocial hazards. These hazards, when excessive or prolonged, can cause serious harm.  It can have a significant impact on workers, their families and business.

Mental health problems are common, with nearly one in two New Zealanders likely to meet the criteria for a mental illness at some time in their lives. Workplaces that prioritise mental health have better engagement, reduced absenteeism and higher productivity, while people have improved wellbeing and greater morale.

Psychosocial hazards can come from:  

  • Work relationships and interactions, including bullying, harassment, discrimination, aggression and violence
  • The way the work or job is designed, organised and managed
  • The equipment, working environment or requirements to undertake duties

What are some of the work-related factors that affect a mentally healthy work site?

  • Work-related violence and aggression
  • Workplace bullying
  • Poor support
  • Lack of recognition and reward
  • Low role clarity
  • Poor organisational justice
  • Remote and isolated work

Whose responsibility is it to manage psychosocial hazards?

Workplaces have a legal responsibility to manage risks to mental health and wellbeing just like they do any other health and safety risk.
Knowing where to start can feel overwhelming but getting started doesn’t have to be. Take action to improve the mental health of your team today.

Tips to help build and maintain a mentally healthy work site: 

  • Create a more positive and supportive work site. 
    • Develop an action plan in consultation with your workers about what you can do together.
    • Check in on your workers regularly. Start a genuine conversation. Ask your worker how they are going, and listen.
    • Encourage respectful behaviour and communication.
    • Walk the talk and lead by example. Supervisors demonstrate their commitment by being supportive and positive on site.
    • Show your commitment by supporting mental health organisations and getting involved in awareness events.
    • Reinforce the good behaviours regularly and address bad behaviours as they appear.
    • Commit to zero tolerance for bullying, discrimination and violence/aggression.
    • Encourage and support employees to bring up concerns when they notice unacceptable behaviours.
  • Establish awareness and support for workers experiencing mental health issues.
    • Consistently raise awareness about mental health and well-being by having discussions such as 1:1 chats and tool box talks.
    • Share information with your workers on mental health and how to seek help to help break the stigma. Posters, emails, and discussions can all be used.
    • Encourage staff with mental health conditions to seek treatment and support early.
    • Support staff with mental health conditions to stay at or return to work.
  • Celebrate workers and their efforts.
    • Praise employees and give regular positive feedback for good work.
    • Celebrate team success. A morning tea / BBQ is also great for team bonding.
  • Take steps to improve role clarity and job satisfaction
    • Monitor and manage workloads regularly and increase input in how workers do their work.
    • Have ongoing and regular conversations with employees about their performance and behaviour.
    • Make sure your employees are clear about their roles. Position description, regular 1:1 catchups and reviews.
    • Offer opportunities for learning, problem-solving and personal development.
    • Support learning – provide opportunities for workers to learn and sharpen their skills, and set interesting challenges.

If you have challenges on your work site related to psychosocial hazards, give us a call for advice. As a HazardCo member you can have a chat with the experienced health and safety Advisory Team for no extra cost.

Your business’ health starts with its people.

Health can often be overlooked in the construction industry, but it’s a big contributor to time off work. With 78% of workers having suffered a mental or physical injury at work and an average 32 days off work for ACC claim injuries.

Injuries in your industry may seem like they are just part of the job, but they can significantly impact your output if not taken seriously.

The importance of looking after you and your worker’s physical health in the construction industry

Strains and Sprains

The construction industry has become the number one industry for ACC claims with strains and sprains, (also known as Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSDs), making up a whopping 57% of the problem. 

Common injuries for construction workers can range from sprains, strains, and contusions (bruising) which can be caused by heavy lifting, repetitive movement, poor body posture, forcefulness or muscle effort, or the vibrations from continuous use of hand tools. Symptoms of a workplace injury can range from any kind of pain and discomfort located in and around the neck, shoulders, wrists, back, and knees.

It is well known that there are a range of factors that contribute to MSDs. It’s not just one single factor, such as the lifting technique (although for industries such as scaffolding and roofing handling techniques are an important factor).

The research firmly points to four groups of factors we need to tackle when addressing MSDs in construction:

Physical factors, such as:

Individual factors such as:

 Psychosocial factors such as: 

Work Organisation factors such as:

It may not surprise you that physical factors often take most of the blame and focus as their connection is easy to understand, measure and observe. There are also proven strategies to overcome physical factors such as machinery, equipment, and task modifications. Combining the other factors into your approach is where the construction industry will get the most benefit. Understanding how these factors can combine and influence each other to cause problems will be crucial.

The most common solutions to dealing with MSD are:

As a business owner have you thought about the hidden costs?

Data shows that sprains and strains often become more problematic later in a construction worker’s career, with the largest claims in the housing construction sector. Between 2015 and 2019,  57% of ACC claims were MSD injuries, with the average cost being $3700, and a total of  1.9 million compensation days paid out, costing a total of $325m! 

There is a large range of costs that surface when someone has an injury on the job, especially when they can’t return to work the next day or sometimes for weeks or months. This has a huge impact on deadlines, bottom line, skills on-site, and team dynamics.

What can I do to prevent injury?

Have you thought about other ways you could be working to alleviate the stress on your body? It could be as simple as:

It’s common practice when you work out, that you warm up and cool down, so why is working any different? Accepting the reality of MSDs helps us formulate an effective approach to combat MSDs in our industry.

Prevention and early intervention are key to maintaining a healthy musculoskeletal system so you can carry out your day-to-day duties on-site and personal activities you love to do in your own time. Ensure you keep fit and healthy; regular exercise, a good diet, and sleep can assist in keeping your body ready to take on work and recover faster. 

Health Monitoring

Did you know businesses are legally required to monitor the health of their workers?

On construction sites, workers can be exposed to many hazards that can cause them harm over time. 

Some common hazards are: 

Continuous exposure to these hazards can cause progressively worse health issues for your workers. This is why it is important to monitor your worker’s health. Specifically their lung function, hearing, vision, and work-related musculoskeletal conditions.

If your worksite exposes your workers to environments that will cause them harm, we recommend beginning the process of monitoring your worker’s health immediately. 

To further assist your health monitoring efforts, HazardCo has partnered with Habit Health, who provides nationwide medical checks. They’re experienced in health monitoring for the construction industry, and their efficient, cost-effective service is discounted for HazardCo members. 

They can offer:

The importance of looking after you and your worker’s mental health in the construction industry

Did you know that nearly 1 in 4 Kiwi adults report experiencing poor mental wellbeing? This makes up a significant percentage of our workforce in New Zealand. This means that there is a good chance that you or someone you work with is struggling with or at some stage has struggled with their mental wellbeing.  

We all know that work can affect your physical health. There are risks and hazards on-site that can cause you harm like slips, trips, falls, hazardous substances, dust and so many more. Working can also impact your mental health in more ways than one. 

Some common workplace hazards that can affect a worker’s mental health are:

Businesses should try to prevent mental health harm at its source. Identifying risks and controlling them should be done by communicating with workers about what workplace conditions are harming their mental health. Things like low job control, low support, poor environmental conditions, and exposure to injury or harassment can increase the likelihood of mental harm. 

Businesses should look to create workplaces that remove exposure to stressors, such as:

Start managing mental health at work today. Have a toolbox meeting to discuss the common issues that impact your worker’s mental health. Discuss ways to eliminate or minimise these risks. It’s good practice to keep records of your meetings, this can be done in the HazardCo App.

Taking care of your mental health is a difficult task. Sometimes you don’t even know you’re struggling until you are in the thick of it. Struggling with mental health can look different for everyone and the cause of it can be different for everyone. In the same way, dealing with or managing mental health looks different for us all. Even though we all respond to mental health differently, there are some common signs to look out for that we are struggling. There are also some commonly recommended things we can do to improve or manage our mental health.

Here are some common signs that you may be struggling with your mental health: 

These feelings and behaviours can be onset by a variety of life events or stressors. There can be many life events that can impact our mental health such as; work-related stress, relationship troubles, finances, loss of a loved one, and many more. If we have been through a tough time or are aware that we aren’t feeling quite right there are some tools we can use that can improve our mental health. Using these tools to proactively manage our mental health is a great idea but it is also useful if you are currently struggling with your mental health.

Here are some common things people do to manage their mental health:

These tools and many more can all help you take care of your mental health. If you notice a friend is struggling or going through some tough life events, reach out to them and see how they are going. They could benefit from some of these tools or at very least a friend. Remember that taking care of yourself mentally is hard and you don’t need to do it on your own. Reach out to your family and friends or a doctor to talk about your mental health. If you are struggling there is help out there, below is a list of some places you can call if you need support.

 

Is work affecting your mental health? Is work affecting your worker’s mental health?

Have you thought about how to manage it? Did you know you have a duty to manage the risks that work poses to mental health?

We all know that work can affect your physical health. There are risks and hazards on-site that can cause you harm like slips, trips, and falls, hazardous substances, dust and so many more. Working can also impact your mental health in more ways than one. Here is a list of some common workplace hazards that can affect a worker’s mental health:

  • Financial Pressure
  • Lack of work
  • Too much work
  • Long hours and fatigue
  • Workplace bullying or harassment
  • Increasing costs of materials
  • Projects not going to plan

There are many things at work that can impact mental health. Sustained exposure to workplace stressors increases the likelihood of poor mental and physical health. Businesses have a duty to manage the risks that work has to mental health. If the risks can’t be eliminated they should be minimised.

Businesses should try to prevent mental health harm at its source. Identifying risks and controlling them should be done by communicating with workers about what workplace conditions are harming their mental health. Things like low job control, low support, poor environmental conditions, exposure to injury or harassment can increase the likelihood of mental harm. Businesses should look to create workplaces that remove exposure to stressors, such as:

  • make sure people understand their role
  • increase workers’ ability to make their own decisions about their work
  • offer a good balance between effort and reward
  • take a long-term view of productivity
  • focus on retaining staff 
  • promoting work-life balance.
  • no tolerance to workplace bullying

Start managing mental health at work today. Have a toolbox meeting to discuss the common issues that impact your workers mental health. Discuss ways to eliminate or minimise these risks. It’s good practice to keep records of your meetings, this can be done in the HazardCo App.

Disclaimer: This article discusses suicide and mental health 

Last Thursday was World Suicide Prevention Day, and next week from the 21st-27th September is New Zealand Mental Health Awareness Week, so we thought we would share some insights into this important issue.

In 2019, New Zealand reported our highest number of suicide deaths to date, with a confronting figure of 685 cases. According to the Suicide Mortality Review Committee, construction has the highest suicide rate of all industries in New Zealand, at 6.9%. It is time that we recognised this issue, and understand the small, yet powerful steps that we can take to make sure our mates are ok, which can prevent the tragic effect on the lives of so many Kiwi families. 

MATES in Construction is a community-based programme that promotes the building and strengthening of communities in the workplace and across the construction industry – helping Kiwi’s to provide an environment that encourages positive wellbeing. 

MATES in Construction has three key focus areas to work towards their vision of significantly improving mental wellness and reducing suicide in the construction industry:

The key message is about taking time out of your day to remind each other to notice when our mates may be struggling, and that it’s not only OK to have these conversations, but it’s essential. 

Due to the current COVID19 climate, individuals may be struggling with financial stress, anxiety levels, and a lack of social interaction – factors that hugely affect our mental health and overall wellbeing. Therefore, it is so important that we support our friends and coworkers by taking 10 seconds out of our day to start these conversations. 

It can be as simple as asking “Are you ok?”, “What’s happening in your world?” or “You don’t seem yourself, is anything up?”. You don’t need to be a counsellor, but taking the time to check-in is a clear indicator to everyone that you care, and that they matter – and this can make a big difference. 

For more information, you can check out these resources below:

Mates in Construction

Boss Burnout – Spot the warning signs in yourself

Mental Health Foundation

Mates in Construction has a 24/7 helpline which you can call on  0800 111 315. Alternatively, you can seek additional assistance from an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), your local GP or your whanau and friends.

The year’s end has snuck up on us once again, bringing the added pressure of work deadlines, projects, social events, and family commitments. 

With these additional pressures occupying our headspace over the festive season, injury rates and incidents tend to increase. The team at HazardCo have a few tips on ways to manage your stress, energy levels, and overall wellbeing at this busy time.

Deadlines – short deadlines for projects and pressure to reach end-of-year-goals can add additional stress to the holidays and cause health and wellness to fall by the wayside. As always, communicate early on, and involve everyone in the project timeline and any dependencies… that way time pressures become a shared problem. And if you do have a looming deadline you don’t think you can make, now’s the time to start talking about it and looking at options with your wider team and client.

Temporary Workers – great for covering annual leave and busy periods, these staff members are often at a higher risk as they don’t have the experience or knowledge of processes specific to your workplace. If you engage temporary workers to cover annual leave or busy periods, it is important that they are inducted correctly, and receive full and correct safety instructions and supervision for any work with machinery or unfamiliar tasks they may be doing.

Social Events – whether it’s purely a social catch-up, or an end of year work party, remember to drink responsibly; monitor and manage alcohol provided to staff, and never drink and drive. This way everyone can have a safe and enjoyable time celebrating their achievements throughout the year.

So, whether you are actively working, or in the midst of the holiday season, try to stay focused on the job at hand, and pay close attention to the task you are performing.

The HazardCo team wishes you all the best for a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to catching up in 2022!

Did you know that nearly 1 in 4 Kiwi adults report experiencing poor mental wellbeing? This makes up a significant percentage of our workforce in NZ. This means that there is a good chance that you or someone you work with is struggling with or at some stage has struggled with their mental wellbeing.  

There are some pretty shocking stats that show how mental health and wellbeing affects Kiwis:

  • Last year over 654 New Zealanders died by suicide
  • The construction industry has the highest rate of suicide, followed by farming and forestry. 
  • Construction workers are five times more likely to die from suicide than an accident at work
  • 1 in 5 New Zealanders will experience mental illness in their lifetime. 
  • 1 in 7 will experience depression.

We are increasingly more aware that Mental Health and wellbeing is a serious issue that affects so many of us. When people are struggling with their mental health and going through a rough time it can be hard for them to seek help or talk about it. We can lookout for our friends and colleagues because we know there is a good chance that at least one of them may need someone to talk to. Poor mental health and well-being come in many shapes and sizes but there are some common signs to look out for. It typically looks like a change in behaviour rather than a one-off incident or if they are just ‘having a bad day’. If you see any of these signs or changes in behaviour it might be time to reach out to your friend or workmate :

  • A talkative or sociable person pulling away or isolating themselves
  • Normally relaxed or easy going but now are agitated or aggressive.
  • Coming in to work late or not at all
  • Finding it hard to cope with day to day things
  • Finding it hard to concentrate or finish tasks.
  • Using alcohol and/or drugs to cope

If you see these signs your friend or workmate might need a helping hand. They might need you to check in on them and see how things are going. This can be hard and scary if you don’t know what you are doing when dealing with mental health and wellbeing. Reaching out to someone who is struggling can be the first step towards getting them the help that they need. You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be a friend. 

Fortunately for us in NZ there are so many organisations that exist solely to help people with their mental health and well being. If you see someone struggling, encourage them to get in touch with one of these organisations for more help. If you need more guidance in dealing with the situation you can call too. Here is a some of the places (there are more) you can contact if you or a friend are struggling with mental health:

  • Mates in Construction – 0800 111 315
  • Lifeline – 0800 543 354
  • Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757
  • Healthline – 0800 611 116
Female construction worker sitting with head in hand
The workplace hazards that create risks of harm to psychological (mental) health are known as psychosocial hazards. These hazards, when excessive or prolonged, can cause serious harm.  It ca...
Your business’ health starts with its people. Health can often be overlooked in the construction industry, but it’s a big contributor to time off work. With 78% of workers having suffered a m...
Taking care of your mental health is a difficult task. Sometimes you don’t even know you’re struggling until you are in the thick of it. Struggling with mental health can look different for ev...
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Is work affecting your mental health? Is work affecting your worker’s mental health? Have you thought about how to manage it? Did you know you have a duty...
Disclaimer: This article discusses suicide and mental health  Last Thursday was World Suicide Prevention Day, and next week from the 21st-27th September is New Zealand Mental Health Awarene...
The year's end has snuck up on us once again, bringing the added pressure of work deadlines, projects, social events, and family commitments.  With these additional pressures occupying our ...
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Did you know that nearly 1 in 4 Kiwi adults report experiencing poor mental wellbeing? This makes up a significant percentage of our workforce in NZ. This me...