Occupational Health and Safety Society of Australia (WA Branch)

Seminar Monday 18 November 2013

The identification and treatment of psychological diseases in the workplace


A seminar to address the increasing incidence of mental health diseases in the workplace, their identification, treatment options and management was held on Monday 18 November.


Welcome and Opening Comments by Interim Chairman

Mr Joe Maglizza, Safety Manager WA and Major Projects, HSE
  Holcim (Australia) Pty Ltd


Mental Health in the Workplace – What can be done that is helpful and achievable


Mr Michael Tunnecliffe, Clinical Psychologist, Employee Assistance Director,
 BSS Employee Assistance Pty Ltd



Psychological Disease Claims in the WA Public Sector

Ms Linda Thompson, Risk Cover Services Manager
Risk Cover WA


The Treatment of Psychological Diseases in the Workplace – Therapeutic and pharmacological

Associate Professor (UWA), Dr Jonathan Laugharne, Consultant Psychiatrist
Next Health Group






Psychological Diseases Working Group

Psychological Diseases Working Group

Notes from the meeting 15 August 2013

Pre-reading material for the meeting.

Raising the Profile of Psychological Diseases

The incidence of work-related mental diseases recorded by SafeWork Australia, or in the case of Western Australia, WorkCover, only reflects those workers who are covered by workers' compensation schemes.  The actual prevalence is much greater.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' Survey, conducted in 2009, showed that 70% of workers who reported that they experienced work-related mental stress did not apply for workers' compensation.

Q.      Should/can the Society initiate any action to raise the awareness of the increasing incidence of psychological disease and, if so, in what way/s?  (Seminar topic?)

The Model OHS legislation not yet introduced in Western Australia defines 'health', as it relates to duty of care, as 'physical and psychological health'.

Employers have a duty of care to provide a working environment free from health and safety hazards.

Q.      What will be the consequences for employers and how are they to be made aware/educated to understand and comply with their obligations?  Can the Society initiate action to achieve this?

  •           How will 'psychological health' be defined?
  •           Will it include the full range of mental illnesses?
  •           How difficult will it be to prove it is workplace caused?

The Canadian Standards Association have released a National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace which is intended to promote a psychologically healthy and safe workplace, or one that 'promotes workers' psychological well-being and actively works to prevent harm to workers' psychological health including in negligent or intentional ways'.

Q.      Should a similar Standard (or other means) be considered in Western Australia?
How can employers be provided with similar guidance to prevent a situation developing here as it has in that country?

Can the Society initiate any action to raise an awareness of the need for similar action (seminar topic)? e.g. the Guidelines for Workplace Prevention of Mental Health Problems issued by the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (Vic).