(This blog article has been slightly edited from the published article)
A report came out in December 2018 commissioned by Safe Work Australia. If the recommendations are implemented, then every workplace in Australia will be less safe. This report if acted on will add to the mental health problems of Australia - unless we only allow machines to employ people.
To clarify how dangerous this report is let me ask the question: if there are five people in a workplace and we only talk about the mental health of four of them do we not fail those four people. If the employer, the one ignored, has a mental health problem will that not worry the four employees. Would they not be concerned for their employer? Would they not be concerned for their jobs and their income and their own future mental health?
Would placing these demands on a person who is an employer not potentially create or exacerbate a mental health concern? Or will, as a result of this report, the regulators make it illegal for an employer to have mental health? Will employees be told in no uncertain terms that the health of their employer is not an issue to be considered? My experience is that the majority of people actually care about other people but will the safety regulators achieve a result where that is an unacceptable thing to do?
It has been obvious to me for some time that the safety regulators need victims, people to hold accountable for what may be the actual failure of safety regulators. This is further obvious from the tone and findings of the "Review of the Model Work Health and Safety Laws". The report made a series of recommendations dealing with penalty levels, sentencing guidelines, prohibiting access to insurance for payment of fines and the introduction of a new industrial manslaughter offence. That's right the recommendations included empowering safety regulators to, where they see fit, start manslaughter processes against an employer who has an employee who self-harms. They also helpfully clarify that a person can (somehow or other) be both a worker and an employer at the same time. What an odd situation. A person can be both an employer and an employee at the same moment in time. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle has found its place in workplace safety. Schrodinger and his cats would be very happy about this new state.
If the report is actioned the safety regulators can send a person to prison if someone else, who is an employee, goes through their own private hell and self-harms to a final awful outcome. What if the self-employed person is going through their own hell?
This is ideology getting in the way of reality, this is people who live in the shelter of a corner of the moral high ground, a corner which is reserved for the self-righteous ruling class, imposing their fantasy ideological view of the world onto a group they demand be experts on a subject that is objective, confusing and challenging - mental health.
The report does not in any way give a self-employed person any rights at all or any chance of having their mental health considered as important.
What does this all mean? It seems that the mental health of a person running a home-based business counts for naught for this group of safety regulators. There are hundreds of thousands of women running businesses from home. The safety regulators don't seem to like them much or are completely unaware of their existence and have decided to relegate them to second class citizenship and ignore their health.
The regulators do however want to put other people, employers, in prison. The regulators will demand that every employer somehow or other become experts on mental health. The safety regulators will threaten employers, cajole them, belittle them, ridicule them, make unachievable demands on them and then debase their intellect and their capacity to care for others.
The great failure here is the report itself mentioned above and the safety regulators. We will be calling for this report to be withdrawn or we will call for the imprisoning of any regulator who has been involved in a workplace that has problems. We will seek major sanctions against those who show such a poor understanding of mental health as to blame someone, who may have their own problems, with the terrible outcome of someone else's problem.
If this report is acted on will we tell small business people (and people they are) not to employ others? Or if they do should they ask for a mental health certificate along with the job application (which is illegal)?
We are also trying to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues. This report and its recommendations will enhance the stigma and send a message that employing someone with a mental health problem could result in prison. The safety regulators are a group that are stuck in the past and are failing to grasp the reality of the modern world and the modern workplace.