“This new data shows just how serious the impact of occupational violence, bullying and harassment and workload are on the mental health of working people and especially women,” Mr O’Brien said.
“We need new regulations to reduce the levels of psychosocial hazards in the workplace. We cannot simply continue to see more and more working people suffering mental and physical injuries every year.”
Draft recommendations from the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into mental health, which were released last year, include that workers’ compensation schemes should provide early intervention and treatment services.
“The cost of [mental health-related] claims are typically around three times the cost of other workers’ compensations claims and involve significantly more time off work,” the commission found.
Mark Goodsell, the head of employer association Ai Group in NSW, said the Safe Work data did not give a perfect image of how Australian workplaces were operating.
“Because there is insurance associated with [mental stress] being a work-related claim, there is a tendency… for it to be claimed as a work-related injury,” Mr Goodsell said.
But, Mr Goodsell added, there was also evidence that some mental health claims were under-reported, particularly among men, because of stigma.
The Human Rights Commission has been conducting a government-ordered national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces since 2018 but is yet to deliver its report.
Safe Work notes its data is only a “limited indicator” of the psychological and social health and safety status of Australian workplaces and subject to change as some claims are finalised.