Home - Importance of managing mental health risks

UpdatesJul 29, 2022

Importance of managing mental health risks

Employers have an absolute obligation under health and safety legislation to protect the psychological and physical health of their workplace participants. In addition, employers have a recognised duty of care to avoid psychological injuries caused by the demands of the workplace.

If employees reach out for assistance or are observed not to be coping, they should not be ignored. An assessment should be made of the worker’s medical condition, assisted by their own doctor or an independent medical assessment. If reasonable adjustments to the position are advised and can be made, they should be made. Otherwise, there is a risk of further injury or exacerbation of injury.

The High Court was called upon recently to examine the liability of the Victorian Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (VDPP) to an employed solicitor, Ms Kozarov, who suffered a psychological injury by working on sexual abuse cases.

The Court found the VDPP could have reduced the risk of Ms Kozarov’s injury by rotating her to work on other matters, and that it was on notice on at least nine occasions that Ms Kozarov was unwell.

It is important to put strategies in place to avoid, or at least reduce the risk of, psychological injuries. To do this, you must:

Relying on an employee to identify they have a problem and vocalise it will not excuse liability. Given the cost of workplace injuries both in monetary and non-monetary terms, it is important to carefully consider and assess such risks.

By Kelly Godfrey

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