Men, Work & Health
19 nov 2019
With today being International Men’s Day and the turf industry having such a high percentage of male workers we thought it was a good time to discuss men’s Mental and Physical Health in the workplace.
With today being International Men’s Day and the turf industry having such a high percentage of male workers we thought it was a good time to discuss men’s health in the work place and highlight key things you can do to protect your health when you are at work.
So, what is International Men’s Day (IMD) all about?
IMD is a global campaign that exists to help men live happier, healthier and longer. Across the world, men die an average six years younger than women, and for reasons that are largely preventable. Which means that it doesn’t have to be that way, we can all take action to protect our health and live healthier, happier and longer lives.
Physical Health in the Workplace
“We all share accountability to encourage our work mates to value safe work instructions in a positive and proactive way. If you think a task is unsafe, stop the job. If you see something unsafe, take ownership and make it safe, then report it. – Kevin Parent, HSE Manager, Turfcare WA.
For most turf managers, the first thing that comes to mind when you mention ‘work’ and ‘health’ in the same sentence might be OSH Management systems, Training or JHAs in order to stay safe on the job. That’s not surprising when you consider all the risks associated with the day-to-day activities of Turf Managers.
It is no doubt that these systems are put in place to protect you, but how seriously do we take them when out on the job? How carefully do we honour them when we are doing the same task for the one millionth time? There can sometimes be this common perception that these systems are put into place to protect the employer in case an incident arises, however, here are some statistics to illustrate why work procedures and PPE are just some of the devices in the work place to protect your health and safety.
- 190 is the average number of workplace fatalities every year in Australia.
- 95% of these fatalities involve male workers.
- 106,000 is the average number of major workplace injuries every year in Australia.
- 65% of the serious injuries involve male workers.
- 50 - 54-year-old men are the most likely to injure themselves in work.
- 86% of people working outside do not adequately protect themselves from the sun - People working outside are 9 times more likely to be exposed to dangerous UV radiation carcinogens.
People go to work every day, but don’t expect to be injured. You have a right to a safe and healthy work environment, but employers are not the only ones responsible for your safety, YOU ARE, too. We all share the responsibility for encouraging a safety culture to improve behaviour and performance in the workplace.
With over 25 years working in health and safety management, Turfcare WA’s HSE Manager Kevin Parent encourages everyone working within our industry to “make a commitment today to take ownership of your own safety and of those around you. Don’t wait until something happens and an injury takes over your life. The unsafe behaviour or condition you are willing to ignore or walk past, is the level of safety you are willing to accept”.
You can serve as a good role model to your co-workers for safe work behaviours by:
- Following established safety work instructions.
- Wearing, maintaining and properly storing your personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Attending all safety training that your employer offers.
- ASKING for help if you are unable to complete on your own or are unsure how to do task correctly.
- Refuse to operate machinery if you have not been formally trained to do so.
- Using safe work practices to eliminate slips, trips and falls.
- Lifting safely and helping others to do the same.
- Knowing evacuation procedures and the location of emergency equipment.
Mental Health in the Workplace
For most turf managers, phases of early starts, long days, working alone, task repetition and dealing with sometimes unpredictable forces can bring on phases of fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression to the surface. Not only that, if you are one of the 69,000 men who is living with a major work-related injury, your mental health may be affected as a result of constant pain or restricted ability.
Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are incredibly widespread, yet mental health isn’t something most Turf Managers talk about during smoko or after knocking off. In Australia today, men are 3 times more likely to lose their lives to suicide compared to women. Suicide kills an average of eight people a day in Australia, six men and two women. For men working in the construction, agriculture or other manual industries, death by suicide is 6 times more likely to occur than by any other workplace accidents.
Although this issue seems monumental, there are small things we can do every day to help protect our own mental health or the mental health of others.
Kevin Parent, Turfcare WA’s HSE Manager encourages anyone who may be feeling overwhelmed or just not right, to start with telling someone, whether that be your supervisor, manager, colleague, friend or family member. ‘Value your mental health as much as your physical health – don’t ignore the signs that you are not ok’.
When is it time to ask for help?
- Ongoing feelings of restless, agitated or angry
- Not sleeping
- Not wanting to talk to or be with people
- Not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
- Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
- Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
- Not replying to messages, calls or being distant
If any of these signs feel familiar, it is important that you tell someone immediately, whether that be a friend, family member, doctor, emergency service or crisis helpline. At times it can be very difficult to find the words, why not try start off by saying:
- I’m not coping today on site; can you ring me?
- The stress / anxiety is getting to me, I need to see my doctor.
- I have been thinking about suicide, I don’t know what to do?
- I can’t deal with _______, will you help me?
- I am feeling extremely overwhelmed and I need some time off!
‘Be assured there are many people who would like to support you during difficult times! Your family & friends would do anything to help you if you were drowning or in an accident, like you would for them, so don’t treat this any differently.’ – Kevin Parent, Turfcare WA HSE Manager
Asking someone in work if they are ok?
Likewise, it is just as important to reach out to a colleague if you feel that they are not coping. Remember, some people find it difficult to open up about their feelings so a conversational prompt could be just what they need.
- You don’t seem yourself lately, is everything ok?
- I have been worried about you, are you ok?
- How are you today?
- How have you been since _______?
- How has work been?
It doesn’t matter how it comes out, the fact that you have recognised that someone may not be coping and are showing interest / a willingness to listen can make a huge difference to them.
Call 000 immediately if you or someone you know is in a life-threatening emergency
Mental Health Emergency Response Line (MHERL)
Phone: 1300 555 788 (Perth Metro Residents) 1800 676 822 (Peel Residents)
For anyone involved in a mental health emergency in the community – including individuals, families/carers, members of the general public or health professionals. Clinicians at MHERL provide assessment, specialist intervention and support for people experiencing a mental health emergency and if required, referral to a local mental health service.
Phone: 1800 552 002
Available: 4.30pm-8:30am Monday to Friday. 24 hours Saturday and Sunday and public holidays.
Rural link is an after-hours mental health telephone service for people in rural communities of Western Australia.
Phone: 13 11 14
Online chat: 7pm-4am, daily
Lifeline WA provides all Western Australians experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide with access to 24 hour crisis support.
Suicide Call Back Service
Phone: 1300 659 467
For people who are suicidal, caring for someone who is suicidal, people bereaved by suicide, or health professionals supporting people affected by suicide. This service provides immediate telephone counselling and support in crises. They can provide up to 6 further telephone counselling sessions with the same counsellor scheduled at times best suited to your needs.
Samaritans Crisis Line
Phone: 135 247
Country callers: 1800 198 313
The Samaritans Crisis Line provides 24-hour telephone crisis support for people experiencing distress across Western Australia.
National Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Helpline
Phone: 1800 737 732
24 x 7 confidential information, counselling and support service for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
Alcohol and Drug Support Line
Phone: (08) 9442 5000 / Country 1800 198 024
The Alcohol and Drug Support Line is a 24 x 7 confidential, non-judgemental telephone counselling, information and referral service for anyone seeking help for their own or another person’s alcohol or drug use. Contact with the Alcohol and Drug Support Line is one-to-one with a professional counsellor and is confidential.