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Lead indicator mentoring program

For: Employers and managers Information seekers

Comcare partnered with the Centre of Workplace Excellence (CWeX), University of South Australia (UniSA), to trial the use of a lead indicator tool – the Psychosocial Safety Climate (PSC).

The program included an employer mentoring component to help employers better understand work health and safety lead indicators so they can predict and prevent poor health and safety outcomes at work.


Project update

The lead indicator mentoring program concluded in May 2020.

The project included a three-month mentoring phase, during which each participating employer engaged with CWeX to assess their organisation’s Psychosocial Safety Climate (PSC) and develop and implement action plans to improve their workplace climate.

The PSC of each organisational unit was measured at the beginning and end of the mentoring process, with a final measurement taken three months after mentoring. Employers also shared experiences and resources during monthly networking meetings.

The program evaluation indicated that the program and its activities significantly increased PSC of the experimental groups, and thereby reduced the risk of work health and safety harm.

Participants have also reported that the program was useful in building their capacity to manage workplace psychosocial risks and has reduced the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on participating employer groups.

Project overview

More than half of Australian workers consider their workplace to be mentally healthy. At the same time, mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces nearly $13 billion each year.

Most employers monitor incidence and injury data to minimise work health and safety risks. However, workplaces have the opportunity to understand lead workplace health and safety indicators to better predict and remedy poor outcomes before they occur.

Comcare partnered with CWeX UniSA to offer employers assistance with implementing work health and safety lead indicators in their workplaces.

Research program details

Eight Comcare scheme employers participated in the program, forming 11 experimental and 11 control groups.

Participants in the experimental groups took part in the following activities throughout the course of the program:

  • implementing the PSC-12 survey within 11 organisational units (more than 20 workers)
  • a workshop for employer representatives on workplace psychology theory and practice, and practical application of the Psychosocial Safety Climate (PSC) Framework
  • developing action plans based on the learnings from the workshop
  • a three-month mentoring service by expert UniSA work health and safety consultants
  • evaluating the implementation process and changes in the PSC within the participating organisations over time.

Terms explained

Work health and safety lead indicators

Work health and safety lead indicators are conditions in the workplace that can be observed, measured, and used to predict future trends in work health and safety and wellbeing.

‘Psychosocial safety climate’ (PSC)

PSC refers to the workplace climate for worker mental health and is an evidence-based lead indicator for working conditions, mental health and engagement.

The PSC can be measured using the PSC-12 scale, which predicts levels of psychosocial risk in the workplace, focusing specifically on management commitment, management priority, organisational participation and organisational communication.

A low PSC-12 score indicates that the organisational climate has a high risk of poor wellbeing outcomes, such as job strain and burnout among workers.

Improving the PSC provides benefits to physical and mental health and can help reduce productivity loss due to sickness absence and presenteeism.

Project participants

Project leads

Comcare and CWeX UniSA.

Other organisations involved

Participating employers remain de-identified due to privacy requirements.

Findings and reports

Resources


Why this research is important

This project is part of our Research Plan Towards 2022 and supports our purpose to enable healthy and safe workplaces.

Our workplaces are changing and this introduces new risks alongside opportunities for innovative ways to prevent harm and minimise the impact of injury and illness.

In 2017-18, Australia saw more than 100,000 serious claims for compensation, where an illness or injury required more than a week off from work. In 2012-13, the financial cost of injury and illness compensation was $61.8 billion.

This research is important because it helps us to prevent harm in our workplaces and learn new and improved ways to keep employees healthy and safe at work.


More information

See other mental health initiatives that Comcare is leading or a part of.

For more information on this research project, please email mentalhealthprogram@comcare.gov.au.

Page last reviewed: 02 October 2020
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Comcare
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.comcare.gov.au

Date printed 26 Nov 2020

https://www.comcare.gov.au/safe-healthy-work/research-evidence/research-projects/lead-indicators-research-project