Investing in your Employees Mental Health

Employers should never underestimate the value of investing in their employees’ health and safety. Many companies recognise the importance of physical health and safety but neglect workers mental health and wellbeing. Now there is a new landmark campaign that aims to tackle this issue.

The campaign launched by Beyondblue aims to make workplaces more mentally healthy by encouraging employers to be more proactive in tackling mental health issues.

A recent PWC report indicated that Australian businesses will receive an average return of $2.30 for every $1 they invest in an effective workplace mental health strategy. In other words investing in worker’s mental health will translate into a financial return for those companies wise enough to do so.

The campaign by Beyondblue has been launched in conjunction with the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance.

The following excerpt from a post on explains more:

beyondblue.jpeg.pagespeed.ce.zp_Im9m_imChairman The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC said the report provides a compelling case for businesses to back a campaign called Heads Up which will give businesses practical advice on the importance  of mental health in workplaces.

“This report shows that employers have a responsibility not only to their workers, but also to their businesses’ profitability, to tackle these conditions at work. Heads Up will provide them with a tailor-made Action Plan to do this and helps ensure that Australia’s 11.5 million workers receive the support they need to be mentally healthy and productive,” he said.


Later on this year the campaign will also introduce an Action Plan that will facilitate a more customised mental health plan for each workplace, because after all each work site is different and presents its own risks and mental health threats. The post on goes on to explain:

In June, an Action Plan will be introduced on Heads Up website to allow businesses to create tailor-made mental health plans to implement in their workplaces to ensure they are progressing towards workplaces that are as mentally healthy as possible.


Sadly mental health issues are commonly misunderstood and are an often ignored aspect of worker wellbeing, hopefully this campaign will go a long way in enlightening employers on the importance of addressing mental health issues by also highlighting the financial benefits for them of doing so, after all most companies are driven purely by profit and worker safety and wellbeing takes a back seat to profits.

Mentally healthy workplaces deliver higher productivity levels, improve workforce participation and increase social inclusion in addition to improving the company’s bottom line. Seldom do we consider the consequences of ill mental health on individuals, the family unit, the business, communities and the economy, despite the fact that these consequences are far reaching and profound, obviously warranting greater attention, especially from employers and co-workers, let’s hope this campaign will help in changing this relaxed attitude toward worker mental health.

Equally important as worker mental health is physical health and wellbeing. Much of a worker’s physical wellbeing is dependent upon their own actions but it is also affected by the actions of other workers in site. It is for this reason that general construction safety training is such a crucial requirement.


Construction Workers Face Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Testing

Part of the Victorian government’s crackdown on the construction industry includes the mandatory drug and alcohol testing of construction workers involved in government funded projects.

While the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the industry’s leading union has condemned the announcement, the government has cited widespread drug and alcohol use on construction sites as its motivation, claiming that they are trying to improve safety on building sites, which they say is being compromised by drunk and drugged workers.

According to a report by the Herald Sun, construction workers involved in work on all new government funded projects will have to face random drug and alcohol testing.

Any company wishing to bid on government funded projects will now have to first commit to implementing appropriate security measures including having a comprehensive strategy in place for the random drug and alcohol testing of workers.

The Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said in an interview with the Herald Sun that the move was aimed at boosting safety in workplaces. He said there have been reports of drug and alcohol taking on construction sites and the government was targeting this dangerous behaviour which he said is a serious risk to the safety of their innocent co-workers.

The following excerpt from a post on explains further:

 “Reports of illicit drug use and distribution on Victorian construction sites are widespread,” said Dr Napthine in an exclusive interview with the Herald Sun.

“The presence of intoxicated and drug-affected workers on building sites presents a real and serious risk to the safety of hard-working Victorians.”

Dr Napthine said that companies must have “comprehensive drug and alcohol screening measures” before they can be eligible for Victorian Government construction biddings.

“The Coalition Government takes workplace safety seriously, which is why we are moving to complement the already good work of the Victorian WorkCover Authority,” said Dr Napthine.


Apparently the changes to construction guidelines will be prepared by the Industrial Relations Minister, Robert Clark who will head the team.

Companies who plan on bidding for government contracts will have to start introducing the mandatory testing by as soon as the middle of this year and will have to show that they have a comprehensive plan for doing so in place.

The CFMEU has been openly critical of the announcement which they say is unnecessary because there isn’t any widespread use of alcohol or drugs on construction sites. The government however doesn’t see why the new measure would be met with apprehension when it is already the case on many privately funded construction sites. The government claims they are simply trying to improve the safety of workers on construction sites.




Construction News: Bomb Threat Stops Work on Sydney Site

Safety of construction workers has once again come under the spotlight as a bomb threat stops work on a Barangaroo construction site in Sydney.

Apparently the bomb threat was communicated to the office of the Construction union, threatening the work site in Barangaroo.

The threat caused disruptions to the entire city and an adjacent large area of the city was also shut down during the scare. The following excerpt from an article on explains:

5543464-3x2-700x467Police and the developer Lend Lease were notified and the construction site was shut down at around 10:00am, with hundreds of workers evacuated.

At least six city blocks surrounding the area were cordoned off by police, causing traffic disruptions across the CBD.

Streets were reopened just after midday, and workers are now being allowed back into the site.

Police and the CFMEU are expected to make comment about the incident later today.

The site is currently under redevelopment and once finished will include a hotel complex and casino run by billionaire James Packer.


Police are apparently investigating the incident which caused such mass delays across the city, so we will have to wait to see how the investigation unfolds.

The incident comes at a time when the health and safety of construction workers has become a crucial aspect of operations for construction firms, influencing not only the day to day functions of construction sites but also affecting company productivity and profits. Delays such as this one caused by bomb threats and other evacuations can cost millions and cripple smaller construction firms.

Construction employers are therefore paying more and more attention to safety and hiring workers who already have some safety knowledge under their belts. Workers need to ensure that they are equipped mentally to handle work on a hazard ridden construction site and in order to do this they must be trained on general construction safety.

Some of the hazards presented by construction sites that require training in order to overcome include: scaffolding, work from heights, power tool use, heavy machinery and equipment use, trenches and excavations etc.

The Australian government has mandated that this training be completed by all workers entering the construction sector in the form of The White Card.

Every worker should be in possession of the White Card Training Course to certify that they are qualified to work on a site.  Each construction worker is ultimately responsible for his own safety but they also have a responsibility to ensure that they do not put the lives of their co-workers at risk.  Therefore no matter the task being undertaken, every construction worker should ensure that he is working safely and according to the safety they have received.

This training course can be undertaken online and once completed your White Card is mailed to you, so the hassle, effort and cost on your part is minimal.


Construction News: 11 Dead in Building Collapse in Southern India

Yet another tragic building collapse has taken place in India’s southern city of Chennai, this time claiming the lives of at least 11 people.

The collapse which took place on Saturday is thought to have been the result of heavy rains which ravaged the area however shoddy building standards are known to prevail in the developing country.

Researchers were still searching for survivors on Monday after the 11 storey high residential block collapsed, killing at least 11 people and trapping dozens more.

According to media reports the building was still under construction. Shockingly this is the second building collapse to have occurred in a period of one day.

Another building collapse took place in the country’s capital city of New Delhi just a little earlier in the day. That accident resulted in the death of 11 people including 5 children.

The following excerpt from an article on explains further:

1404044790217.jpg-620x349The partly-built tower, about 20 kilometres from Chennai in Tamil Nadu state, crushed mostly labourers at the site who had gone inside it to shelter from the rain.

Senior police officer Karuna Sagar told AFP that 11 bodies had been pulled from the wreckage as of Sunday afternoon while 20 people had been rescued and were being treated in hospital.

He said police had detained several people for questioning, including the builder and construction engineers.

Sagar said witnesses had described hearing a loud bang, with the building collapsing after around 50 workers went inside it to seek shelter.

Read more:

Police fear that dozens more people may still be trapped in the rubble. Scores of people joined in the rescue efforts, sifting through debris of twisted steel, mangled scaffolding and crushed concrete armed mostly with shovels, searching for survivors.

In the last year apparently at least 100 people have been killed in building collapses in the country where cutting corners has been blamed for shoddy, compromised construction work.

Those in charge of the search operations expected it to take days to find all those trapped in the rubble. Disaster management official leading the search, S.P.Selvan was quoted as saying:

“There is no clarity on the number of people trapped,” S. P. Selvan, a senior officer from the National Disaster Response Force, told reporters in Chennai, according to the Press Trust of India.

Read more:

Partly constructed buildings are particularly susceptible to collapses caused by heavy rains, even here in Oz we have seen structures collapse because of heavy rain and other adverse weather conditions such as gale force winds. However India has been criticised for their lax regulations and the leniency on building contractors who cut costs in order to provide housing for the country’s growing population at the lowest possible price. It is common for contractors throughout the country to source substandard materials and even add unauthorised extra floors to accommodate more people. The article goes on to explain:

In September last year more than 50 people were crushed to death when a five-storey building collapsed in India’s financial capital of Mumbai on the west coast.

“We will look into all aspects of planning permission and quality of construction, the structural aspect and the soil condition and see what’s wrong,” Sagar told the NDTV television station.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram announced compensation of 200,000 rupees ($3000) for the families of the dead and 50,000 rupees for those injured.

Read more:

Obtain a White Card online here


CFMEU taken to Task by FWBC

Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) has confirmed their action against a number of union officials from the nation’s largest construction union. According to media reports the FWBC is taking the union officials to court over their conduct which resulted in a blockade at a construction project in Perth last year.

The national secretary of the CFMEU, Dave Noonan as well as its’ state secretary Mick Buchan, Assistant State Secretary Joseph McDonald and organiser Tawa Harris have been charged over the alleged breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 which they committed in 2013 when they organised a blockade of a concrete which was scheduled to occur on the site of the New Children’s Hospital in Perth on July 18, 2013. In addition to charges against the individual officials involved in the incident, the FWBC have named the union itself in the action as well as its Western Australian state chapter.

The building regulator recently released a statement in which it alleged that the CFMEU officials purposefully disrupted the pour despite knowing that it would financially impact the head contractor, in this case John Holland. They alleged that the action was undertaken with the purpose of forcing John Holland to agree to enterprise agreement demands which included a “whole of site” agreement applying common terms to all workers on site including those workers who weren’t employed by John Holland.

The regulator also alleges that the CFMEU posted Facebook notices and fliers the day before the blockade which resulted in around 600 workers gathering the following day and blocking the site’s main entrance. The blockade then moved to a nearby park, but not until it became clear that the pour was not going to take place.

Mr Buchan is alleged to have made statements to the large group gathered:

dave-noonanAddressing the crowed at the park, Buchan allegedly said the workers and union had sent a message about their ability to ‘pull the numbers whenever we f***ing need them’ and would do whatever it needed to do.

“The one important thing that has happened here today is we send a clear message to everyone around here that’s here today that we can pull the numbers whenever we f***ing need them and we’ll do whatever we need to do,” he allegedly said words to the effect of.

Read more at:

Joseph McDonald also alleged made controversial statements to the crowd to the effect of “we are the union and we called the shots today”.

Each of the individuals mentioned above face penalties of $10,200 for each breach and the union itself faces a $51,000 penalty per breach.

The statement also confirmed that the Fair Work Building Commission has launched proceedings against the CFMEU’s organiser Joseph Myles in the Federal Court of Australia for his statements declaring “war” and for organising another blockade which held up work on the $4.102 billion Regional Rail Link project in Victoria. That particular blockade was apparently in response to the head contractor’s refusal to employ a union delegate.



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