A new survey conducted by Australian Unions has revealed mental health as the fastest growing challenge to the safety of working people in their workplaces.
Millions of Australian workers are suffering mental health issues because of their work, and a high proportion are not seeking the help they need due to fear of negative consequences from their employers.
According to the survey, 17 per cent of workers say they have experienced mental health injuries as a result of their work, with 10 per cent saying they were regularly bullied.
The survey showed that young workers and those at the frontline of the pandemic are the most at risk. 30 per cent of workers aged under 25 years old said they have suffered a mental health problem due to work, and more than 40 per cent health and education workers reporting regular exposure to stress.
ACTU Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien believes the survey results put into focus the health threats faced by workers beyond COVID-19.
“The pandemic has brought into sharp focus how important it is that all working people are safe in their workplace. But Australian workers face a multitude of risks beyond the threat of COVID-19,” says O’Brien.
“This research shows Australian workers – but especially those in frontline healthcare – under immense pressure, dealing with significant levels of mental ill-health.”
The risks to health workers are of particular concern with these frontline workers bracing for an influx of patients as the country begins to reopen.
Only 48 per cent of health workers said they have enough time to perform work safely in their workplace, with three in five saying they skip rest breaks that they are entitled to at least some of the time.
These survey results represent an unacceptable level of risk to the workers that have given so much during the pandemic.
“Frontline workers who have carried our country through the pandemic should be able to rely on a safe workplace and robust OHS policies which protect their mental and physical health,” says Liam O’Brien.
“The Morrison Government can and must do more to ensure that Australian workers do not suffer injuries or experience trauma as a result of their work. Everyone deserves to come home safe.”