Injury Treatment

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Effective management of psychological injury

Psychological injury is frequently quoted as an increasing area of risk within workplace health and where these risks are not managed effectively, as an increasing financial burden on compensable injury schemes across Australia. These predictions are observed in trend data provided by schemes however Injury Treatment notes that those trends are based on data which represent only the formative period of psychological risk management in Australian workplaces.

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Injury Treatment proposes that, just as was the case for physical injury, that improvements can be made to improve the understanding of and management by employers and case managers managing psychological injuries. Injury Treatment offers a range of services which address the knowledge, skill and intervention gaps and improve economic, health and community outcomes. 

Reluctance to enquire and fear regarding the encounter of factors associated with psychological health (as opposed to physical health) are frequently reported by workplace managers. This reluctance can translate into reductions in appropriate and early disclosures of personal and workplace based factors affecting both health and performance. Such reluctance can also result in responses to such disclosures which are likely to aggravate rather than address disclosed psychological health concerns.

Job Task Analysis is commonly understood to provide an objective and evidenced basis upon which to discuss physical health and the capacity required for the essential and non-essential components of roles. Job Task Analysis can be used with regard to psychological demands to provide an evidence based assessment for understanding essential psychological health capacity required for roles. This also provides the language required for managers and employees to discuss psychological health and the treatment of employees necessary to continuing in their roles, whilst not risking the confidentiality and safety that may be required to deliver effective treatment.

Job Task Analysis can assist in the management of risk of psychological injury if it is implemented as a component of recruitment. Selection procedures including the nature of interview questions and experiential examples explored in interviews, demonstrations of relevant skills and questions to be asked of referees will all be more predictive of long term job success and reduced likelihood of injury, where these are informed by the assessed psychological demands of the role.

Job Task Analysis can also assist in management of risk of psychological injury. Assessed demands can be implemented as the areas of enquiry within pre-employment assessments made by psychologists experienced in this form of assessment.

Where gaps exist between successful candidates and the required psychological capacities, training in appropriate soft and professional skills or self-monitoring and resilience, for example, can be developed and included as a component of induction, talent development or professional development reviews.

When workplace injuries of a psychological nature do occur, an understanding of the psychological demands of pre-injury duties, and available duties on a Suitable Duties Register, can form the basis of objective discussion with treaters regarding functional treatment plans.  The ability to focus treatment on specific psychological capacities helps reduce treatment time frames and allow for earlier return to work on suitable duties.