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Victorian public mental health OHS survey – outcomes

Victorian public mental health OHS survey – outcomes

In late 2022, ANMF (Vic Branch) conducted a survey of public sector mental health members around occupational health and safety issues. The survey results are summarised below.

Across several subject areas – including safe patient manual handling processes; occupational violence and aggression (OVA) prevention programs; bullying, harassment and inappropriate workplace behaviours; and fatigue and rostering – members gave us valuable insights that will help inform our work and advocacy over the coming months.

Manual handling

We asked members several questions about manual handling in their workplace. Encouragingly, over 85 per cent of respondents were aware of their organisation’s safe manual handling program.

We also asked members the primary causes of manual handling injuries at their organisation, and their thoughts on what would assist to reduce manual handling injuries within their mental health program.

Occupational violence and aggression (OVA)

We surveyed members’ thoughts on the primary causes of OVA injuries within their organisation, whether their organisation had an OVA prevention program, and if it conducted pre-admission risk assessments. We also asked what members thoughts on what would assist to reduce OVA incidents.

In addition to the above, we also asked about what OVA training members’ organisations provided, with common responses including the Safewards model, Management of Clinical Aggression (MOCA) and, somewhat worryingly, online training only.

Of those who knew their organisation had an OVA committee, only nine per cent were able to identify that this was a standalone mental health OVA committee. Fifty-five per cent of respondents were unsure of whether their organisation even had an OVA committee.

ANMF Health and Safety representatives are strongly encouraged to participate in OVA committees, speak with your local ANMF Organiser to find out more.

Bullying, harassment and inappropriate workplace behaviours

Asked if their organisation had a bullying, harassment and/or inappropriate workplace behaviour prevention program, more than 82 per cent of members told us they were aware of one in their workplace.

On the question of what would assist their organisation to reduce bullying, harassment and/or inappropriate workplace behaviour incidents, the most common responses we received were:

  • Cultural change
  • Approachable management
  • Encouraging staff to speak up
  • Supporting staff that make complaints and acting on complaints
  • HR support
  • Team building
  • More staff and reduced workloads.

Fatigue and rostering

Concerningly, almost 65 per cent respondents were not aware of any rostering principles within their organisation, and just under half were unsure whether their organisation tracks instances of poor rostering practices (eg. double shifts, excess overtime, roster shortfalls and actual shortfalls). Only 20 per cent said their organisation did track rostering practices.

You can read about ANMF rostering project, which if successful could provide rostering benefits to other areas such as mental health.

Design Improvements Required to improve OHS

We also asked members for their thoughts on how facilities could be better designed to reduce occupational health and safety risks.