The second video in this series is now avilable here: Conversations About Psychosocial Risk Session 2 – Greg Smith, Dr Craig Ashhurst and Dr Rob Long
Many in Safety will know of the new push into Psychosocial health. This push is understood as a ‘hazard’ (https://safetyrisk.net/not-just-another-hazard/; https://safetyrisk.net/the-language-of-hazards-and-psychosocial-mental-health/). Of course, anything associated with persons, behaviours and mental health should never be described as a ‘hazard’. Such language only endorses brutalism and unethical conduct towards persons.
There is now ISO 45003 (https://safetyrisk.net/iso-45003-and-what-it-cannot-do/ ), numerous Codes of Practice (https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/model-code-practice-managing-psychosocial-hazards-work) and a combined regulator website (https://www.peopleatwork.gov.au/) dedicated to Psychosocial health (hazards).
The language across all of these documents and sites is mechanistic, focused on structures and is silent about everything that is critical in thinking and tackling Psychosocial health. For example, there is no ethic of personhood anywhere to be found so, no foundation on which to build a method. Indeed, most of the discourse dumps Psychosocial health in the ‘hazard basket’ as if just another object to be managed by the Hierarchy of Controls.
The naivety, engineering mindset and behaviourism throughout all of this content is mind-blowing.
Perhaps take a look at the People at Work promotional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGYFwCawwP4 and what is the language about: ‘data’, ‘productivity’, ‘job satisfaction’, ‘attracting talent’, ‘absenteeism’, turnover’, ‘claims’ and ‘injuries’. I kid you not, this is the language.
The name ‘People at Work’ is not about persons, just more safety code (https://safetyrisk.net/deciphering-safety-code/) for what it isn’t about. It’s just a badge for a program like NSW iCare that is not about care (https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/scathing-icare-review-finds-a-need-for-cultural-change-20210301-p576tq.html; https://www.afr.com/work-and-careers/workplace/icare-execs-face-grilling-as-pressure-mounts-for-heads-to-roll-20200802-p55hpt, https://www.cowraguardian.com.au/story/7994343/nsw-govt-is-a-disgrace-says-icare-rally/).
The best way to dupe the gullible and non-discerning is to brand something by what it isn’t.
Of course, the assumption (undeclared) behind all of this stuff on ‘psychosocial hazards’ is that ‘structure creates culture’ (Hopkins). The opposite is the case.
Indeed, the fiddling with structures and the exponential development of more paper systems based on this approach to Psychosocial health, is a recipe for ‘more of the same’. More paper-safety.
But don’t over step the mark yet, there’s a survey. The last thing people will participate in if the workplace is toxic!
But rest assured there is the good olde 5 steps to the ‘controls’ and ‘hazard measures’ to fix those pesky persons at work, those hazards.
Of course, the structure of the survey risks participation because the questions enable easy identity of participants. Even if the survey is completed, who (with what skill and experience) is going to invoke the ‘controls measures’? Safety?
Given the huge success of our Risky Conversations videos (over 120,000 downloads and 80,000 book downloads – https://vimeo.com/showcase/3938199), Dr Craig Ashhurst (Transcoherence, Transdisciplinarity), Greg Smith (Safety and the Law) and Dr Long (Social Psychology of Risk – SPoR) decided to undertake some conversations about Psychosocial health and this direction for Safety.
You can see our first conversation below:
Of course, there are alternative, more humanising approaches to risk, than this stuff being pushed by the regulators. However, in safety, there is no curriculum to support any it.
We do however have plenty of programs in SPoR that are positive, practical, constructive and focused on methods and skills to help. If you like, you can start with the free online Introduction to SPoR Program (https://vimeo.com/showcase/4233556) or the free Due Diligence Program (https://vimeo.com/showcase/4883640). Watch the videos and make contact if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
More videos between Greg, Craig and Rob to follow.
Psychosocial Health Conversation 1.mp4 from CLLR on Vimeo.
Psychosocial Health Conversation 2 from CLLR on Vimeo.
Narelle Stoll says
Great introduction to the mangement of Psychosocial risks. As a safety practitioner looking forward to hearing about some scenarios on how to manage them.
Rob long says
Thanks Narelle. Understanding distress, trauma and indicators of psychosocial need require a mature and wise disposition nor familiar to safety.
The beginning of psychosocial safety is not talking about hazards but focusing on persons and ethical practice. Something safety doesn’t do.
The policing of objects, hazards and counting injury rates is not preparation for helping. Indeed, safety doesn’t understand its purpose as helping and never uses such language.
We will look at sone scenarios next and effective redponses. But without a change in language, disposition and culture, Safety is simply not prepared to engage in this space.