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Leadership on mental health is good business sense

Damian Christie explains why it's good business sense to look after your workforce and ensure that they are as able-bodied as possible.

If there’s a story that should be compulsory reading this month, then it's our profile of IQA member Scott Tipping – I consider his tale to be the most uplifting story of the year.

In support of charity RU OK?, Scott, who is a general manager of logistics for Hanson Australia’s on-highway truck fleet, will this month travel by jet ski from Melbourne to Brisbane, effective from 11 to 22 September. As part of the ride, he is aiming to raise $20,000 to support mental health wellness programs. He will also be making stopovers at Hanson quarries along the east coast to discuss the importance of mental health with other personnel and urge everyone to look out for their mates.

I’m sure Scott’s story will resonate with everyone in the industry. It’s a fantastic initiative and there’s still time to show your support via Scott’s LinkedIn page or the RU OK? website.

Scott’s tale underlines that poor mental health and suicide prevention are some of the greatest moral challenges of our age, not just in the extractive industry but within broader society.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’s national health survey on mental health in 2014-15, four million Australians – or 17.5 per cent of the population – had a mental health condition. Results also indicated that 3.6 million Australians (nearly 16 per cent of the populace, and more women than men) reported co-existing, long-term mental, behavioural and physical health conditions. The Australian Institute on Health and Welfare has also reported that Australians spent $8 million on mental health-related services in 2014.

Mental health, if not addressed, has been shown to have a detrimental impact on workplace productivity. A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report in 2014 estimated that employers were losing about $11 million annually and a combined 12 million days of reduced productivity per year for failing to take affirmative steps.

The same report also suggested that on average businesses will experience a return on investments that foster better health in the workplace – a minimum of $2.30 for every dollar invested. The rate of return will vary from industry to industry - eg in the mining industry, the return is $5.70 for every dollar invested, and for smaller mining-related companies, the return in productivity is $15 for every $1 spent.

It’s therefore not just good common sense, it’s good business sense to look after your workforce and ensure that they are as able-bodied and productive as possible. Downtime is the common enemy of quarries due to machine breakdowns and repairs. Similarly, absenteeism and below par performances by workers can have a significant cost. The good thing is most extractive industry businesses recognise the importance of looking after their workers and ensuring they are safe and sound.

The extractive industry has been very proactive in its support of mental health awareness over the last decade. Hanson Australia’s support of Scott Tipping’s ride (as well as its general support of RU OK) is to be commended. The IQA and other construction materials operators, including Holcim, Boral and Adelaide Brighton, have also shown strong leadership, with their support for mental health and wellness programs and seminars. Such leadership is a psychological boost for workers – if they know they have employers that care and value their input, then that will bring out the best in them and ensure their loyalty for years to come.

Damian Christie
Editor • Quarry Magazine

Damian Christie is the editor and a chief writer of Quarry magazine. To contact Damian, please click here.

Thursday, 21 February, 2019 07:04am
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