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The Australian Workplace Barometer: Report on psychosocial safety climate and worker health in Australia

The Australian Workplace Barometer project aims to provide science driven evidence of Australian work conditions and their relationships to workplace health and productivity, through a national monitoring and surveillance system.
This report was commissioned by Safe Work Australia to provide a summary of the results from data obtained from six Australian states and territories: New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The data provides evidence relating to psychosocial risk factors in the working Australian population as well as an analysis of relationships between risk factors and employee health and motivational outcomes.

The AWB report has been published on the Safe Work Australia website.

The main goals of the Australian Workplace Barometer (AWB) project are to:

  • develop a nationally representative database of psychosocial risk at the population level;
  • identify psychosocial risk groups within Australian workers via industry and occupational classification, and demographics;
  • identify psychosocial risk factors by industry;
  • determine the costly consequences of stressful jobs;
  • design and evaluate OHS interventions, inform prevention campaigns, policies and practice;
  • benchmark progress at national levels, and monitor changing trends; and
  • develop national standards.

The AWB project is in the national interest and currently includes data from over 3483 workers from NSW, WA, SA, NT, ACT and TAS. So far longitudinal data have been collected from NSW and WA. Continued systematic surveillance of psychosocial risk factors at work is required at a national level to inform national policy and interventions.


"... alarmingly, we found depressed workers were
taking six times as many sick days"

McTernan, Dollard & La Montagne, 2011

Research Results

  • Psychologically unhealthy workers reported nearly 6 times as much sickness absence as the healthiest workers.

  • Despite rural workers reporting moderately more physical demands and work-family conflict, overall there were only small differences found between urban and rural working conditions.

  • Females report more unwanted sexual advances, more humiliation, and more unfair treatment due to gender than men.

  • Work-family conflict is significantly higher in families with more than one child.

  • The most frequent workplace harassment is being sworn at or yelled at (33.8%), followed by being humiliated (22.8%), and experiencing discomfort listening to sexual humour (19.1%).