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A lack of workplace support is associated with depression, says new research.

“Respondents who reported low levels of support from colleagues had twice the likelihood of having significant depression symptoms compared to those who report[ed] having support,” says the study, The Relationship between Work Characteristics, Wellbeing, Depression and Workplace Bullying.

“Consistent with the association between support from colleagues and depression, low levels of support from one’s manager was also associated with significantly higher risk of depression symptoms.”

The study shows that the risk of depression also appears to be affected by relational justice: superiors who provide consistent and sufficient information, who are willing to listen to problems and who provide criticism or praise.

The study reveals “a pattern of increasing risk of depression with declining levels of relational justice, with those reporting the poorest organisational culture showing significantly greater risk of depression compared to those reporting the best organisational culture”.

Workplace bullying was also associated with increased incidence of depression.

But the report notes, “It is not just the experience of depression symptoms that is seen to be elevated among those who experience workplace bullying.”

Suicidal thoughts are also more likely in those who are currently being bullied at work. They are “about twice as likely as those never bullied to report feeling that their life is hardly worth living, report feeling that they would be better off dead, and report that they had thought of taking their own life”, the report states.

The findings are part of the Australian National University’s Personality & Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project longitudinal study, which began in 1999.

The latest results are from interviews conducted in 2011–2012 with workers who were then aged between 32 and 36 years.

For help and support, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For more details on the study, visit Safe Work Australia.

A Queensland roofing contractor has been ordered to undergo training under the new work health and safety laws.

The contractor was prosecuted in Brisbane Industrial Magistrates Court for breaching the Queensland Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

The contractor had failed to comply with a direction from a workplace health and safety inspector to cease work until fall protection was in place, according to Work Health and Safety (WHS) Queensland in a media statement.

“There also were counts of obstructing and intimidating an inspector.”

The contractor pleaded guilty and was placed on a one-year good behaviour bond with a surety of $10,000. He was also directed to undertake relevant trade training by December, said WHS Queensland.

The magistrate said the sentences were the first to be handed down under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, introduced last year.

“The wider options and choices now available to courts might help those facing charges under the legislation develop better culture and awareness as well as affording the courts the more recognised and historical avenues of punishment and deterrence,” said WHS Queensland head Dr Simon Blackwood in a media release.

For more details, visit Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

The overlap of safety and navigation laws is in the spotlight with the release of the draft code of practice for managing stevedoring risks.

Stevedores operate under work heath and safety (WHS) laws and the federal Navigation Act 2012.

Safe Work Australia says while the ‘Code of Practice Managing Risks in Stevedoring’ covers WHS compliance, the code also recognises that WHS and navigation laws overlap.

As such, the code includes references to marine orders from the Navigation Act and acknowledges that WHS laws and marine orders can operate concurrently.

Safe Work Australia is seeking comment on whether further clarification about this overlap and the interaction of these laws is required.

Comment on other aspects of the code is also required.

Public comment closes 19 July.

For more details, visit the draft code of practice.

The Federal Court has found that an employee was threatened with the sack for carrying out his work health and safety (WHS) duties.

The court heard that in August 2011 a reversing forklift with an inaudible beeper surprised the employee, who was working at Visy Packaging Pty Ltd (Visy).

The employee, who was also the elected OHS representative, tagged the forklift and later a second forklift.

The tagging alerted others not to use the forklifts because they were faulty or unsafe.

In response, Visy investigated the incidents, suspended the employee from work and issued the employee with a final written warning.

The employee and the Automotive, Food, Metals, Engineering, Printing and Kindred Industries Union (AMWU) took Visy and two of its managers to the Federal Court, claiming they had taken adverse action against the employee under s 340 of the Fair Work Act 2009.

The court found that Visy and the managers, in investigating and suspending the employee and issuing the final written warning, had taken adverse action.

In explaining its finding, the court said the employee had been exercising a “workplace right” under the Fair Work Act when he tagged the forklifts.

And Visy and the managers had failed to establish that the employee exercising his workplace right was not “a substantial and operative factor in their decisions” to investigate and suspend him, and issue him with a final written warning.

Penalties will be determined at a later date.

For more details, visit the case.


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