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How does mining stack up on mental health?

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Safe Work Australia has released its latest report looking at the mental health of Australian workers.

The ‘Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace’ report is designed to highlight the changing impact of work-related psychological injuries in Australia.

Safe Work Australia chief executive officer Marie Boland said the new report aims to increase understanding of the impact of psychosocial hazards at work by highlighting trends in psychological health in Australian workplaces.

“The data gives insights that can help governments, researchers, industry and worker representatives to address current and future challenges in psychological health and safety,” she said.

“Proactively managing psychosocial hazards at work not only protects workers, it also benefits businesses by improving organisational performance and productivity.

“Under model work health and safety laws, psychosocial hazards and risks are treated the same as physical hazards and risks.”

Mental health conditions accounted for nine per cent of all serious workers’ compensation claims in the 2021–22 reporting period, a 36.9 per cent jump on Safe Work’s 2017–18 report.

The median time lost was more than four times greater than that of all physical injuries and illnesses compared to 2020–21.

Compared to the previous report, the median compensation paid for mental health conditions was more than three times greater than that of all physical injuries and illnesses.

The report also found workers with claims for mental health conditions experienced poorer return to work outcomes and were more likely to experience stigma from colleagues and their employers.

But how does the mining industry stack up against the rest of Australia?

Last year mining was ranked alongside Australian industries in a survey conducted by SuperFriend, a workplace mental health non-for-profit.

Mining scored above the national average in equipping its workplaces with skills and resources to foster good mental health. This involves putting policies into action to minimise risks, respond to harm, and promote wellbeing.

The industry also scored above the national average for putting processes put in place to eliminate workplace harassment, bullying, discrimination and violence, as well as in making workers feel their efforts are recognised and rewarded at work.

Glencore is one mining major is putting mental health at the fore. In September last year, the company revealed the success of its partnership with MATES in Mining in tackling workplace mental health.

The MATES in Mining program started nearly two decades ago to provide on-the-ground training programs to help miners recognise the signs of mental struggle in their colleagues.

The program was rolled out through Glencore’s 16 sites, with more than 9000 employees having been trained to help and support colleagues.

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