Prevent and manage risk of mental injury in transport, logistics and warehousing

How to identify psychological hazards and implement effective risk management processes.



How this helps your business

Every Victorian worker should return home safely every day. Being safe at work includes mental health and safety.

Workplaces that support the mental health of their employees have more successful businesses, because their employees perform better, are happier, and stay in their jobs for longer. They also have fewer days off work.

Knowing the mental health risks in your workplace means you can work towards removing them.

Step 1

Learn more on this topic

A mentally safe workplace is one that employees look forward to attending and is supportive of each other and their individual needs.

There are a number of factors that contribute to a mentally healthy workplace, one where employees will strive:

  • Work demands (emotional, mental, physical) are managed well- employees are given enough time to do the tasks and responsibilities assigned to them. When employees are physically safe it is much easier to feel mentally safe.
  • Control over work- employees are included in discussions about how their work is done and how important decisions are made.
  • Supportive environment- co-workers and managers care about employees’ mental health concerns. If someone needs support or if something traumatic happens, co-workers and managers respond appropriately.
  • Roles are clear- employees know what they need to do, where their work fits in with the rest of the organisation, and whether there are any changes coming up.
  • Relationships are positive- there is trust, honesty and fairness in the workplace. Employees enjoy and feel connected to their work and they feel motivated to do their job well.
  • Change is managed well- employees are involved in discussion about change.
  • Courteous and respectful- people at work are respectful and considerate to each other, as well as with customers, suppliers and public.

Read the Beyond Blue training module below to learn more about:

  • Common sources of work-related stress
  • Actions to effectively manage work-related stress
  • The different roles and responsibilities of people in the workplace.

Step 2

Consult your staff

Having conversations about mental health at work is important to discover the mental health risks that exist in your workplace. Having these discussions in a non-judgemental way helps to build trust within your team.

Helping people understand the items in the list above is a good starting point. You may want to share the Beyond Blue online training module from Step 1 with your employees.

Discussing mental health risks in your workplace

There are many ways you can talk with your employees about understanding mental health risks, including:

  • one-on-one discussions with your managers and employees
  • having mental health risks as an agenda item at your regular meetings. These may be 'toolbox talks', production meetings, staff meetings or any way your organisation communicates with each other
  • when you casually walk around your workplace with your staff
  • through your Health and Safety Representatives
  • through your health and safety committees
  • in your leadership meetings.

Step 3

Identify the risks

Understanding the mental health risks in your workplace may take time, as you need to build trust with your employees so that they openly discuss the topic.

By keeping a record of mental health injuries, complaints and issues, you will be able to review the mental health risks in your workplace. You will start to see patterns in the records, and can then work on solutions to stop them happening again. Records can be kept in a simple diary or a more sophisticated online injury recording tool, but records needs to be kept confidential.

Identifying mental health risk factors

Look at what is happening in your workplace, and think about what factors could affect how mentally safe your workplace is. Some areas where you might find useful information include:

  • how much work people are getting done (especially if production goes down)
  • inspecting the workplace to see how work is carried out, noting any rushing, delays or work backlog
  • peak and seasonal demands
  • leadership skills and effectiveness
  • rates of absenteeism
  • staff turnover (how often employees resign)
  • exit interviews
  • staff engagement and morale - you can do this by watching how people treat each other during work activities
  • customer feedback
  • incident or employee complaint reports
  • use of surveys to get feedback from your employees, team leaders and managers

Step 4

Assess the risks

A risk assessment tool is a useful way to understand more about the risks to your employees' mental health and how to manage these risks.

Mental health risk assessment checklist

A risk assessment might take into account:

  • how employees will be exposed to a mental health risk (such as an abusive customer or a traumatic incident)
  • how often and for how long employees are exposed to a mental health risk (for example, whether risk builds up over time or happens in a single incident)
  • how likely it is that someone's mental health will be harmed if the risk isn't managed
  • what potential harm is likely to be experienced and who will be harmed if the risk isn't managed.

Step 5

Manage the risks

After identifying what factors might present the greatest risks to the mental health of your staff, you need to take steps to manage these risks.

You are may be familiar with the 'Hierarchy of Control' for managing physical risks in your workplace where the most effective action is to eliminate the risk altogether. If this is not practical then the next most effective control is to reduce the risk, for example altering the environment to ensure appropriate placement of clients/patients with specialty behavioural needs in specific wards or sections of your workplace. The least effective controls rely on people changing. For example, attendance at training sessions to cope better with the hazard or the use of personal protective equipment. For mental health risks, the same hierarchy of control principles apply.

It is more likely that you will be successful if:

  • your employees can see that your workplace and management are committed to mental health and wellbeing
  • employees are able to have their say on what they think the mental health risks are in your workplace
  • you get input from employees on how to manage the risks you find
  • there is an action plan clearly stating what will be done, by when and who will be responsible for each item.

Some examples of ways to manage mental health risks

Examples of measures you can put in place to manage mental health risks are:

  • planning workloads to make sure employees are not being given more than they can do in the time they have
  • giving employees more freedom to control when and how they do different tasks
  • teaching your managers and team leaders how to support their employees, for example by coaching, mentoring or training
  • making sure employees know exactly what is expected of them, and how their performance will be judged
  • changing human resource procedures to make sure everyone knows what their tasks are
  • offering help to employees who might need it (e.g. an employee assistance program or lists of local counselling services)
  • telling employees who they should speak to if they have concerns about their job demands or their level of control in their job
  • checking employees understand any upcoming changes in your workplace, and know what they are expected to do
  • encouraging employees to speak up early if there are problems so they can get the support they need.

WorkSafe Victoria's stress guidebook gives you more detail about how to address the organisational factors that can impact mental health in workplaces.

Step 6

Review and keep improving

The final step to managing mental health risks is to review how you are going and make sure the controls you have put in place are making a difference.

Work with your teams to set short term and long term goals and then schedule dates to systematically review your data and keep asking 'how can we do this better?'.

You'll also need to regularly review your risk assessment to address any new risks that may have emerged.

Developing a positive health and safety culture throughout all levels of your organisation will help you move towards mental health risk management as being 'business as usual'.

More resources

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Disclaimer: The WorkWell Toolkit provides general information only. Please consider your specific circumstances, needs and seek appropriate professional advice.