What is Work Health and Safety?

Work health and safety is about managing the risks to the health and safety of every person in the workplace. Every person has a responsibility to promote and maintain a work environment that is without risk to the health or safety of others. We have an obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure the workplace is safe.

What is a Mentally Healthy Workplace?

Mentally healthy workplaces are those that people look forward to attending, are open to individuals’ needs, and where employees and managers are flexible and supportive of each other. A mentally healthy workplace promotes workplace practices that support positive mental health, eliminate and minimise psychological health and safety risks through the identification and assessment of psychosocial hazards and builds the knowledge, skills, and capabilities of workers to be resilient and thrive at work.

Working in healthy, safe workplaces and doing meaningful work can help prevent mental ill-health.

Work Health and Safety and the Law

Mental illnesses can be covered by the definition of disability in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Disability discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably or not given the same opportunities as others in a similar situation because of their disability.

It also occurs when an unreasonable rule or policy is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people with a disability.

Accordingly, employers should consider what reasonable adjustments or changes to the working environment could be made to support workers with mental illness in performing their duties more effectively.

Employers also have obligations to employees with disabilities, including those with mental illness, under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and occupational health and safety legislation. Privacy legislation applies to disclosures about an employee’s personal information.

A range of federal, state and territory authorities support work health and safety laws.

The duty of a supervisor and manager to provide a safe and healthy workplace

You have a duty to act on behalf of your employer to maintain a workplace that is healthy and safe. This requires you to:

  • take proactive steps to notify your employer of health and safety risks
  • not engage in behaviour that could be harmful to others
  • not undertake work in a manner by which the level of safety could be reduced
  • follow workplace safety policies and procedures
  • attend health and safety training and follow reasonable instructions and advice provided by your employer.
  • not intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything your employer has provided in the interests of workplace health, safety, or welfare.

Like to learn more?

To find out more about the responsibilities of a supervisor and manager when it comes to creating a safe and healthy workplace, please refer to the Sentrient series of online compliance courses for supervisors and managers.

To get a free demonstration of the supervisors’ and managers’ suite of online compliance courses, please get in touch with us today!