Work & Health

Promoting safe work practices and structures for both workers and their families.

Work and Health looks at how to minimise the ill health and injury caused by work structures and to maximise the positive contributions of work to wellbeing and quality of life.

Our Impact

The Work and Health Research Team identifies forms of work that enhance psychological and physical well-being while improving productivity and allowing organisations and communities to flourish. Most of our projects employ multiple methods. Our multidisciplinary team provide results that inform policy and practice for a range of stakeholders including employers, employees, families, trade unions and government agencies.

Our Work and Health team has three thematic projects:

  1. Work and Mental Health
    The team has a strong record in conducting and disseminating research that examines work and mental health. This includes work looking at occupations, traumatic exposure at work and work outcomes; the consequences of fatal worker injuries for surviving families, and initiatives to improve the mental health of working aged men.
  2. Work Ability and Wellbeing
    Research in this theme is primarily focused on work injury prevention, the impact of physical activity in working life on the need for recovery from work, and the promotion of workplace-based physical activity, work ability and wellbeing in the context of an increasing sedentary working population.
  3. Precarious Employment and Flexible Work
    This research investigates the effects of precarious or flexible employment (e.g. casual, temporary, sub-contract or agency work) on health and safety. One focus is the development and testing of new measures of precariousness and of the Pressure, Disorganisation and Regulatory Failure model which is intended to explain the effects of precariousness.
  • The study Traumatic Deaths at Work: Improving support for Families showed that the mental health impact of a sudden fatal work injury for next of kin and families can be long lasting with clinical levels of posttraumatic stress disorder, prolonged grief disorder, and major depression reported at an average of 7 years following the death.
  • Associate Professor Lynda Matthews was recently invited as expert witness to give evidence and submit recommendations to the 2018 Senate Inquiry into the Prevention, Investigation, and Prosecution of Industrial Deaths in Australia.
  • The Move to New Building Study examines how new office building designs might promote better workforce health and is assessing effects of new building designs, activity based working and ambience on health behaviours and workplace perceptions of occupants.
  • As part of History Week 2018, Emeritus Professor Michael Quinlan, renowned expert witness and researcher on OHS and safety crimes, was hosted by the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History to present a keynote on the barriers confronting families seeking justice following safety crimes in Australia.

Current Projects

  • Increasing the uptake of EAP services by men (Industry partnership, Acacia Connections)
  • Well@Work, an Australian Mental Health Initiative grant (Movember Foundation, beyondblue)
  • FIFO work at the South Flank Project (funded by BHP Billiton)
  • Occupational traumatic exposure: Prevalence, work outcomes, and interventions (WorkSafe BC, Canada)
  • Occupational traumatic exposure: Preventive Interventions (WorkSafe BC, Canada)
  • A constraint based AI approach to roster generation: An alternative to probabilistic methods (Bond Uni, Ximes, Vienna)
  • Preventing Secondary Psychological Injuries in the Construction Workforce (Partnership pilot with UNSW)

Our Researchers