Work and health / work and well-being

Increasingly policy makers and practitioners are aware of the connections between work and health and work and wellbeing. The relationship between work and health/well-being is multifaceted, involving interaction at a system level (health service systems and labour standards; workforce development); worker level (occupational health and safety research) and individual well-being level (health outcomes of work). From a work systems and worksite perspective, job design and employment arrangements can have health effects on workers. The characteristics of industrial relations systems and workplaces can influence the likelihood of work-related injury and illness. Different types of interventions can be effective in developing safety cultures that promote well-being at work. Workplaces can also be sites for promoting and delivering health and well-being. Workplaces can support the effective implementation of health promotion programs targeted at reducing and preventing population health related morbidities. Here the focus is not so much on conditions intrinsic to work influencing health and well-being, but how work can influence health outcomes more generally. From a health system perspective, employment arrangements can influence the operation of health service systems and health service outcomes. For instance, the affects of nurse-patient ratios and the skill mix of nursing staff can impact on the delivery of services. These factors are in turn influenced by health policy, funding and management systems. Demographic changes are having a profound influence for workforce development in the health sector. The types of jobs and types of skills required to respond to the challenges of an ageing population requires generating robust scenarios of how the health workforce could potentially evolve. Workforce capacity studies include those that examine the dynamics of skill eco-systems and those that examine how learning and labour are connected to promote vocational identities.

The WRC has experience in exploring many aspects of the relationship between work and health, and is interested in continuing with such research.

Reports

Young apprentices: mental health, well-being and structures of support 2014

Client:  NCVER - National Centre for Vocational Education Research

This project explores whether work-based mentoring and pastoral care can help support the health and wellbeing of young Australians (16-24 years) in the critical transition from school to work. Research methods used will include analysis of existing data collections, key informant interviews, and a survey of youth.

Research questions include:

  1. What is the association between the provision of work-based mentoring/pastoral care and health and wellbeing outcomes for young Australians in their first 12 months of an Australian Apprenticeship?
  2. How do health and wellbeing outcomes of young Australians in their first 12 months of an Australian apprenticeship compare with young Australians who have commenced a vocational education course?

The research also explores the awareness amongst apprentices of the availability of mentoring and pastoral care and identifies the types of mentoring/pastoral care support valued by Australian apprentices.

NSW Healthy Workers Initiative: Industry Profiles (Road Freight Transport, House Construction, Manufacturing) 2013

Client:  NSW Ministry of Health

WRC prepared industry profiles to assist the NSW Ministry of Health in delivering the Healthy Workers Initiative in the Road Freight Transport, House Construction and Manufacturing industries. The profiles focused on identifying existing health issues and behaviours, and identifying barriers and enablers for delivery of the Healthy Workers Initiative, including suggestions for the design of communications strategies and materials.

Each profile was developed using insights from a review of policy and regulation, review of health programs, and interviews with key informants, managers and workers.  Analysis was also conducted for each industry using Azjen and Fishbein's Theory of Planned Behaviour to identify barriers and provide suggestions to influence behaviours at the industry, employer and worker level. The three profiles were accompanied by an overview report providing a policy and theoretical overview for the research, and drawing out themes common across the industries studied.

Supporting young people with a mental illness in their transition from education into the workplace: Literature Review 2013

Client:  National Mental Health Commission

Since 2012, the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) has produced an annual Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. In the 2013 Report Card, the chapter Something Meaningful To Do, Something To Look Forward To has the topic "Transitioning from education to independence". The WRC partnered with the Brain & Mind Research Institute (BMRI) to consult experts and conduct a literature review to explore this topic, which focuses on the issues of young people with a mental illness in their transition from education into the workplace. The research looked at the support available and challenges that need to be addressed across the education journey and the transition into employment.

NSW Healthy Workers Initiative: Industry Profiles (Construction, Transport & Storage, Agriculture Forestry and Fishing) 2013

Client:  NSW Ministry of Health

WRC is preparing industry profiles to assist the NSW Ministry of Health in delivering the Healthy Workers Initiative in the Construction, Transport and Storage, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industries. The profiles focused on identifying existing health issues and behaviours, and identifying barriers and enablers for delivery of the Healthy Workers Initiative, including suggestions for the design of communications strategies and materials.

Each profile will be developed primarily using insights from interviews with key informants and a review of policies and programs. Analysis will also conducted for each industry using Azjen and Fishbein's Theory of Planned Behaviour to identify barriers and provide suggestions to influence behaviours at the industry, employer and worker level.

NSW Healthy Workers Initiative: Workplace Support Service materials and engagement strategy 2013

Client:  NSW Ministry of Health

WRC assisted NSW Health and WorkCover to develop and test the Workplace Support Service model. This involved refining a conceptual framework for workplace support, developing materials to be used as part of service delivery, testing the conceptual model and materials, and piloting the service in selected workplaces.

Disability Service Workers and Job Stress: Are Intervention Strategies Working? 2012

Client:  Australian Services Union/Workcover

Healthy Workers Initiative - Portal 2012

Client:  Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing

The WRC was part of a University of Sydney consortium (led by the Boden Institute in the Sydney Medical School) that developed content for the Healthy Workers Portal. As part of the Healthy Workers Initiative, this Australian government website provides businesses of all sizes with resources to create healthy workplaces that support increased physical activity levels, healthier eating behaviours, smoking cessation and reduction of harmful alcohol consumption.

The project consulted broadly with employers (from small, medium and large businesses), states and territories and employer representative groups, developed criteria for including relevant material for a national portal, and reviewed one hundred and twenty Australian and international web sites. This culminated in the development of key information to assist employers seeking to implement healthy living programs in the workplace

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Contracting arrangements in the Queensland Construction Industry: Exploring factors that may give rise to 'sham contracting' 2011

Client:  Workplace Health and Safety Queensland

This research explored sham contracting Queensland construction industry. The project addressed the particular issue of whether intensified contracting and sham contracting is affecting the welfare (especially the health and safety) of construction workers. Analysis of qualitative data (via in-depth interviews and key informant interviews) was used by the WRC to generate an original, empirically-based understanding of the nature of the employee/contractor arrangements in the industry.  The report also integrated these results with existing national and international industry research.

Working conditions and the health and safety of room attendants in luxury hotels 2010

Client:  LHMU/Workcover NSW

Working Conditions of Doctors and Nurses in NSW Public Hospitals: Survey for Submission to the Garling Inquiry 2008

Client:  AMA - Australian Medical Association/ ASMOF - Australian Salaried Medical Officers' Federation, NSW/ NSW Nurses Union

In 2008 a wide-ranging Commission of Inquiry (the Garling Inquiry) was undertaken into the NSW public health system. The New South Wales Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Australian Salaried Medical Officers' Federation (NSW) (ASMOF), and the NSW Nurses' Association, commissioned the Workplace Research Centre to examine the views and experiences of doctors and nurses in the NSW public hospital system. In particular the study collected sample survey information on the adequacy, or as it revealed, the inadequacies, of current working conditions and arrangements within the public health system.

Accident Compensation and Make-up Pay in Awards Covering Victorian Employees 2008

Client:  Worksafe Victoria

The state of Victoria commissioned a official review of The Accident Compensation Act 1985, to ensure that injured workers continued to receive fair support, to stream line the administrative process, and also to examine the benefits available with regard to the need to protect the long-term financial viability of the scheme. Interim research by the review suggested that there is some duplication with regards to such entitlements with some awards and agreements. This report then examined the coverage of accident compensation provisions for Victorian employees, as prescribed in key awards, focusing in particular on the provision of 'make-up' or 'top-up' pay of workers compensation.

Yarra Trams Corporate Health Survey 2005

Client:  Yarra Trams

This project provided Yarra Trams with a data file containing demographic and quality of work life meta data from the ACIRRT Quality of Work Life Survey, for benchmarking analysis against the Yarra Trams Corporate Health Survey.