Industry News

Seven workplace strategies to protect and support employees

Promoting a culture of wellbeing and safety within transport, warehousing, and logistics has unique challenges that have long required an industry-specific approach.

Melissa Weller, Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds director industry relations and program management, says while the industry has clear regulations and procedures around physical safety – from requirements for wearing hi-vis clothing, to clearly marking safety zones in work areas and around machinery, its much more difficult to find practical guidelines for managing the unique psychosocial hazards prevalent in the industry.

“It’s not quite as easy to understand what the hi-vis is or what the yellow line is when it comes to somebody’s psychological health. And the types of things that can put their psychological health at risk,” she said.

And the transport and logistics industry faces many psychosocial hazards unique to the sector, Weller added.

“Particularly within transport and logistics we know that job control is a psychosocial hazard that needs urgent attention. Another is change management: the way that we implement change, communicate change, and support people through change in the workplace,” she explained.

The industry is also beset by low levels of recognition, Weller noted.

“You will hear stories about people that really kind of feel they get a set of keys chucked at them, and they know where they’ve got to end up at the end of the day, but they’re spending eight hours in a truck thinking well I’m out here on my own,” she said.

“That’s essentially why Healthy Heads was founded – to support the transport, warehousing, and logistics industries in the areas of mental health and broader wellbeing. There’s a lot of unique hazards in this industry and it was felt that an industry-specific approach was needed.”

Founded in 2020, Healthy Heads set out to do just that – focusing on providing industry with support for businesses of all shapes and sizes to create a healthy working environment and thriving individuals.

Healthy Heads Roadmap Planner

The Seven Stories, Seven Strategies Roadmap Planner. Image: NTI

As part of its work, the organisation recently released its ‘Seven Stories, Seven Strategies Roadmap Planner’, a set of resources designed to help businesses better understand psychological health and safety and develop workplace wellbeing plans.

It is built upon the ‘Seven Workplace Strategies’ outlined in Healthy Heads’ National Mental Health and Well-being Roadmap, a unified plan for improving mental health and wellbeing across the industry.

“In April 2023 a model code for managing psychosocial hazards in the workplace was adopted. This is reasonably new legislation and although our existing strategy – the Roadmap – had already been released and aligns with this model code, it didn’t go into the same amount of guidance detail that the Roadmap Planner does. The Roadmap Planner is more your ‘how-to’ guide,” she said.

Seven stories, seven strategies

The Roadmap Planner centres around seven workplace strategies formed to protect and support employees, explained through seven real-to-life stories. These stories help demonstrate each strategy.

“We call it the Seven Stories, Seven Strategies because we have created a scenario for each one of the strategies to help explain what the hazards are and how they might play out in an actual workplace,” Weller explained.

“The seven strategies are a framework to follow to start putting controls in place to mitigate psychosocial risk. These strategies are: leadership capability; awareness; workplace culture; smarter work design; resilience and coping skills; early intervention; and recovery.

“We’ve then gathered representations of real-to-life stories to help everyone better understand the hazards. We discuss why and how each story matters, and how you can get started on implementing each strategy in your workplace.

“The Roadmap Planner provides several different resources including policies that can be downloaded and tipsheets that can be used. We’ve basically compiled all of the relevant information in one place so that people in this industry can come straight to our website, download the Roadmap Planner, and access information and resources that they can utilise, from training courses right through to links to relevant areas of state and territory SafeWork websites.”

Where the rubber meets the road

Through the Healthy Heads newsletter, each of the seven strategies will be featured in coming weeks, starting off with Strategy one, Build Leadership Capability.

While many leaders don’t have the qualifications to address an employee’s psychological or emotional issues themselves, Weller says they are in a position of influence when it comes to how safe people feel about speaking up about mental health or workplace concerns.

“Leaders have a role in normalising workplace discussions about mental health and other hazards in the workplace that might affect someone’s mental health,” she said.

“Whether you’re a leader of a small business or a large company, or you are a team leader, you are in a position to help create a culture where employees are empowered to care for their own mental health.

“This might include actions like ensuring you take allocated breaks and use these to recharge properly, rest, walk or stretch and have a healthy snack and stay hydrated.

“Other examples include taking leave if you are unwell, developing good social connections in the workplace and regularly checking-in with employees, which can be as simple as asking ‘How are you going today?’

“When you think about a psychosocial hazard like work demand, for example, how do you as a manager, supervisor, or business owner stay on top of the demands that you’re putting on people day to day. Are they fair, are they reasonable, does everyone understand what their job is and how they’re supposed to do it, and what the expectations are?

“What communication have you got in place so that day-to-day you’re aware of how the people in your organisation are coping with their workload, with the environment they’re working in, and giving them opportunities to have some input into what they do and how they do it.”

Where to start?

Weller believes the process starts with awareness. “I was talking to someone from a smaller size business and they said they’ve started working on some of these awareness raising approaches, making sure they’re getting that message out there that this is a safe workplace to speak up about any of your concerns, whether it’s about how you do your job, a concern about your own mental health, or to say I’m not coping very well at the moment at work or I might need to access some leave,” she said.

“They started by delivering the Healthy Heads Toolbox Talks. Those talks started to shift the culture within the organisation to let people know where they can go to find resources and know this is a safe space and we want you to speak up if you’re concerned about something.”

Edwina Hausmann, risk and compliance officer at Russell Transport, agrees. The Brisbane-based carrier was among 13 companies involved in piloting the Roadmap Planner before its release.

“Although we were already focusing on psychological safety it wasn’t as highlighted because it’s new territory,” she said.

“While there are a lot of resources, a lot of information, it was hard to work out where to start. The Roadmap Planner has helped us to identify this, it highlights where and what we need to focus on first, and it’s structured our approach.

“At the moment we’re really focused on making psychological safety standard, just like all aspects of physical workplace safety. It’s new territory, there’s some stigma we’re still breaking down, so our focus is on increasing awareness and understanding and then we will look at more of the strategies and what we need to prioritise next.”

For more information about Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds, or to subscribe and join the community, visit the website at

NTI is a proud Foundation Partner of Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds.

* This article contains general information only and you should obtain your own professional advice based on your personal and business circumstances. NTI bears no responsibility, and shall not be held liable, for any loss, damage or injury arising directly or indirectly from your use of or reliance on the information in this article.


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