Mental health issues are as common in the Mining, Construction and Crushing & Screening Industries as they are in the wider community. Worldwide, one in five people experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. There are issues specific to our industries that can exacerbate Mental Health problems and hinder the recognition and acknowledgment of them. Mental health issues can impact workplace safety, the wellbeing of employees and reduce productivity.
What is mental health?
The World Health Organisation states that good mental health is a state of wellbeing, whereby an individual can work productively, cope with the stresses of everyday life, contribute and realise their potential. However, for many of us, factors can impact on this and at some stage during our lives we experience problems that affect our mental health.
An example of anxiety from Beyond Blue:
Polo Citrus turned on during crushing - Footage from a 3 min video
“Over the past 12 months, 344 people were reported to have been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease and more than 100 with silicosis. Where workplace exposure is the cause, I want these numbers to head towards zero.” said Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson
Consequently, new laws have been passed by the NSW government regarding dust exposure.
Regulatory bodies including local councils, EPA and WorkSafe Australia are targeting construction and mining to ensure that the new legislation for dust control is being implemented. The EPA continued their ‘Bust the Dust’ campaign in Spring this year. ‘Operation Bust the Dust involves frequent inspections of mines on hot, dry and windy days, to check that extra controls are in place at the mines to minimise dust.’
The EPA have fined some businesses $15000-$30000 for dust pollution related offences in 2019 and 2020. Local Governments in some areas have task forces to ensure minimal impact to the community from construction. They have the power to issue Direction notices and on the spot fines. Protecting the local communities and ensuring the work can continue and is not stopped by complaints is an essential part of working successfully in built up areas.
Can you afford not to control dust on your site?
THE IMPORTANCE OF USING THE RIGHT DUST SUPPRESSION
Silica dust is harmful when inhaled into your lungs. As it is 100 times smaller than a grain of sand, you can be breathing it in without knowing.’
That is quite a dramatic quote, but the reality is exposure to dusts in the construction and mining industries can cause serious problems, hence the current legislation and regulation changes. It is well known that it can be short term, causing vision hazards onsite and respirable problems or long-term causing irreversible lung damage.
A Polo Citrus Dust suppression trailer is like an insurance policy for your business:
STEP 4 – Develop a plan to implement changes to the company’s safety culture
Now that the desired company culture has been identified and analysed, a number of steps can align and manage these changes. These can be part of the implementation process, start with 1 or 2 in each step and build on this over time to achieve the desired results.
How to improve company culture in the extractive industry
A lot of advice on how to improve safety within businesses suggests that changes to company culture need to be made in order for this to happen, but they don’t provide the details on how to actually do this. This is easy to say but not so easy to implement, and it is necessary to refer to experts and research to develop the structure and plan to make this process successful. The following model devised by Johnson and Scholes is the Cultural Web Model and it is very useful in devising a plan for tackling the business culture and developing change.
These six elements have been called the Paradigm, that is the model or pattern of the work environment. The model involves looking at the organisational culture now, how you would like the culture to be, and finally identifying the gaps between the two and working on these to implement the changes.
How to get employees to buy into the company’s safety program? In an ideal world, all our employees would use common sense, be accountable, look out for each other, look after machinery and work towards common goals –a ‘shared sense of purpose and shared alignment to the mission’ (Navy Seal culture).
Most people are willing and capable of doing this in the right environment. We all know that it is important to have a company culture that supports employees and empowers them, so how do we actually create this? What happens if you have provided training, have policies and procedures in place, your management are onboard but some of your staff are still not following safety guidelines? We aim to give you some practical tips on how to create a more effective culture in your business.
The impact of workplace injuries and diseases
Fortunately, research shows that companies that create a culture of safety in the workplace have demonstrated a reduction in workplace illness and injury by up to 40%.
This is significant as workplace injury and illness obviously affects a company’s bottom line. The cost to the Australian community, employers and workers, according to Safe Work Australia, is shown in the figure below.