Talking about mental health and wellbeing

An audit reviewing psychosocial harms in the mining and resources industry shows there is much work to be done to protect staff.
Date: Monday, 20 February 2017

Following the release of its psychosocial harm audit tool and guide early last year, the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) conducted an audit of more than 140 companies, reviewing management systems, resourcing, consultation and the preventative measures put in place to protect staff’s mental health and wellbeing.

The department collected information from 126 companies involved in mining operations and 17 operators of petroleum and major hazard facilities over a ten-month period to October 2016, analysing the results against four key criteria.

The four criteria used to analyse the results were:

  • management systems that address mental wellbeing
  • resourcing of systems relating to mental wellbeing
  • consultation with workforce on mental wellbeing strategies
  • preventative and protective measures in place.

DMP Resources Safety Executive Director Simon Ridge said while the department acknowledged the complexity of psychosocial harms, it was important to address the risks within an overall safety and health management system.

“The objective of this initial audit program was to establish a baseline against which to measure future progress in mental health risk management in the Western Australia’s resources sector,” Mr Ridge said.

"Risks to psychological and physical health due to work should be viewed in the same manner as other workplace risks. The results from this initial audit program has shown that there are areas for improvement across the four key criteria, however the most significant area for improvement is in the level of consultation with the workforce on mental health and wellbeing strategies.

“It is important that the prevention of work related stressors is incorporated into all health and safety procedures and these results have shown that there is still much to be done in this space as well.”

The results of this baseline study are being considered by the Mining Industry Advisory Committee Mental Health Strategies Working Group, which is tasked with identifying a framework to support good practice for positive mental health and wellbeing in resources sector workplaces.

The full report presenting the baseline results for psychosocial harm audits of mining operations, and petroleum and major hazard facilities can be found online.