education.vic.gov.au

School operations

Mental Health and Wellbeing – Employees

3. Mental health and wellbeing hazards and risk assessment

The department aims to keep people feeling good and functioning well, reduce the stigma of mental illness in the workplace and support workers to remain at work. The department recognises the importance of work in restoring mental health and aim to provide a supportive environment for this to occur.

Mental health has been identified by the department as a hazard requiring it to be managed in all schools which is reflected in the school OHS risk register (XLSX).External Link

3.1 Identify hazards

The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) and employees must enter the following 3 hazards in the ‘Hazard Description’ column of the school OHS risk register:

  • workplace bullying
  • occupational violence
  • student challenging behaviour.

The principal and/or their delegate, after consultation with HSR and employees, may also identify other mental health and wellbeing hazards or risks that may require managing and they may be recorded in the 'Hazard Description’ column of the school OHS risk register.

Hazards can be divided into psychosocial hazards (organisational or person focused, for example, work-related stress) and physical hazards (environmental, for example, uneven floor), both of which can contribute to job stress and psychological injury. Prolonged or extreme job stress can lead to a decline in psychological health and the development of poor mental health and psychological injuries.

The following workplace indicators could point to the potential presence of mental health and wellbeing hazards and injuries in the workplace:

  • excessive and/or unusual patterns of sick leave
  • high staff turnover and/or burnout
  • withdrawal behaviours (for example, not participating in work meetings and discussions)
  • negative behaviours and performance issues (for example, disrespectful behaviour or misconduct)
  • presenteeism (for example, employees attending work while they are unwell and being unproductive)
  • safety incidents (for example, personal physical injuries, high number of student safety incidents)
  • development of exacerbation of mental illness (for example, anxiety and depression).

3.2 Identify the contributing workplace factors

The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with the HSR and employees, are to identify and record the contributing workplace factor(s) that alone, or in combination, may contribute to a mentally unsafe working environment.

Workplace factors that have the potential to impact on an individual’s mental health and wellbeing may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • organisational culture
  • psychological and social support
  • leadership and expectations
  • civility and respect
  • psychological requirements and competencies
  • growth and development
  • recognition and reward
  • involvement and influence
  • workload management
  • engagement
  • work-life balance
  • psychological protection.

Refer to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Guide (DOCX)External Link for guidance on how to address and improve these factors within your workplace.

3.3 Risk assessment process

The principal and /or their delegate in consultation with the HSR and employees, should assess the level of risk associated with workplace indicators and the workplace contributing factors, as per section 3.1 and 3.2 of this Procedure. HSRs must not be provided with employee’s medical information without their consent.

When assessing the level of risk the principal and/or their delegate must utilise the risk matrix outlined in the OHS Risk Management Procedure. The risk assessment is to be conducted in consultation with the HSR and employees.

The assigned level of risk should be recorded in the schools OHS risk register and/or Risk Assessment Template (DOCX)External Link or equivalent.

If the risk level in the OHS risk register is rated ‘High’ or ‘Extreme’ a documented risk assessment must be completed in consultation with relevant parties (including school management/leadership team), using the Risk Assessment Template or equivalent.

A risk assessment should also to be conducted when:

  • there is limited understanding and/or knowledge about individual tasks to be performed and the psychological impact
  • there is uncertainty about the level of risk associated with activities to be undertaken.

A risk assessment should take into account when:

  • the circumstances in which employees are exposed to specific work-related risk factor(s)
  • the frequency and duration of exposure to specific work-related risk factor(s) (for example, whether risk to health and safety builds up over time or occurs in a single incident)
  • the likelihood that a mental health injury may occur if there are not adequate controls in place to manage the work-related risk factor(s).
Chapter 3 of the Mental Health and Wellbeing — Employees Procedure on identifying mental health and wellbeing risks in schools, including contributing workplace factors

Reviewed 16 May 2024

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