Home' Australian Resources and Investment : June 2017 Contents While there have been
numerous studies conducted
internationally and around
Australia, the Western Australia
Department of Mines and Petroleum
(DMP) is making a stand and working
hard to raise the focus of operators on
the holistic wellbeing of their staff.
Following the release of its
psychosocial harm audit tool and guide
early last year, 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.
DMP Resources Safety Executive
Director Simon Ridge says that while
the department acknowledged the
complexity of psychosocial harms, it
was important to address the risks
within an overall safety and health
'The objective of this initial audit
program was to establish a baseline
against which to measure future
progress in mental health risk
management in Western Australia's
resources sector,' Ridge says.
'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 have shown that there are areas
for improvement across the four key
criteria; however, the most signi cant
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.'
The results of this baseline study
are being considered by the Mining
Industry Advisory Committee (MIAC)
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.
While creating a mentally healthy
workplace is everyone's responsibility,
mental health is a leadership issue,
and change must start at the top. The
department is working closely with the
MIAC Working Group to consolidate
information, and the tools currently
available to operators, to improve their
planning and risk mitigation.
One of the rst changes put in
place is the introduction of the Mines
Inspector, Mental Health and Wellbeing.
With a strong background in
psychology and experience with heavy
industry, Amy Douglas-Martens will
work closely with the mines inspectorate
team to help give con dence and the
tools to form safety and health protocols
that work to protect mental health and
wellbeing, as well as physical safety.
'There are very broad cultural
differences across the industries in
Western Australia, and there is some
anecdotal evidence that some of
these cultures are deeply ingrained,
depending on the maturity of the
particular industry and the diversity of
the workforce,' says Douglas-Martens.
'Our long-term goal is to give
operators and their staff the con dence
and the tools to deal with mental health
risks, and ingrain understanding and
mitigations into their psyche.
'Protecting mental health is at the top
of many agendas; however, the saturation
of information makes it dif cult for
operators to apply the learnings to their
health and safety plans.
'Our rst job is to make this
information more accessible for the people
who are developing workplace health and
'While our focus is on the mining and
extractive resources industries, we have
a real opportunity to address mental
health and touch the lives of people
across the state.
'Men are most at risk of suicide, and
make up the majority of the mining
workforce -- we must do everything in
our power to protect those at risk. This
is a chance for the department to make
a considerable and valuable impact on
Western Australians, beyond the economy.'
The drivers for change come from all
levels within the department, including
our graduate of cers.
As a member of DMP's nationally
recognised Interagency Graduate
Program, Tyler van der Merwe has
a passion for protecting the mental
health and wellbeing of people, and has
been given the opportunity to turn her
passion into a career.
Currently working with the Resources
Safety Division, van der Merwe says that
stigma appears to still be the number
one barrier to people seeking help, and
she looks forward to in uencing change.
'As a graduate, it's exciting to be
working for the department during a period
of change. There is lots of work happening
behind the scenes to consolidate the
information that is available to operators,
and the creation of the new inspector
role shows that DMP is truly dedicated to
improving the status quo.'
The issues facing the mining and petroleum industry are constantly shifting
and changing, with one constant -- the need for a larger focus on the
mental health and wellbeing of staff.
28 • Australian Resources and Investment • VOLUME 11 NUMBER 2
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