Shifting Industry Focus to Psychological Safety on a National Scale

Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds has taken an evidence-based approach to improving mental health and wellbeing outcomes. The reasons for shifting to a national scale is compelling.

The postal, warehousing and road transport sector is currently ranked 19 out of 19 industries against Superfriend’s Thriving Workplace Index Score.

With added pressures placed on workers due to COVID-19 there has never been a more critical time for the sector to increase its emphasis on the psychological safety of the entire workforce, Australia wide.

It’s widely understood that workers within the sector are faced by a number of inherent stress factors. Some of those are related to long hours, shift work, social isolation and pressures to meet deadlines.

According to Superfriend’s Thriving Workplace Report, 38.2 per cent of workers in the sector with an existing mental health condition said their work caused or worsened it.

Undoubtedly, for the industry to retain and maintain its existing workforce as well as attract new participants, there is a need to shift our focus toward improving mental health and wellbeing outcomes on a national scale.

In response to this pressing need, Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds (HHTS) has been on a journey to understanding the ways these issues can be addressed for nearly three years.

While the Foundation officially launched in August of 2020, a steering committee of industry leaders came together back in 2018 to identify critical mental health priorities for the sector to create a happier and healthier workforce.

Here the HHTS three key pillars were established — training and education, standards and wellness. At this time, the steering committee engaged AP Psychology & Consulting Services (APPCS) to undertake an evidence-based research project. The project reviewed existing approaches to mental health across the sector to inform the future design of interventions.

The review highlighted that existing mental health approaches were primarily at the secondary and tertiary level of support.

From the insights gained, APPCS recommended three critical areas of prevention to create significant impact across the industry: leadership capability, better workplace cultures and smarter work design.

Fast track to 2021, HHTS in conjunction with APPCS is close to delivering a three year Industry Blueprint Strategy, National Framework, Guidelines and Charter for Psychological Safety for road transport and logistics.

What does this mean for the industry and its workers?

The HTTS three-year Industry Blueprint Strategy will provide a best practice approach to building a psychologically safe and thriving industry by developing and embedding a set of key deliverables owned by industry leaders and HHTS members.

As part of this, organisations who become members of HHTS will be able to carry out a self-accreditation process based on a maturity model of best practice approaches to Psychological Safety.

In December of 2020, a project working group made up of participants across all levels of the industry from drivers, logistic workers and experts from the mental health industry participated in workshops to review current challenges and opportunities relating to psychological safety.

The insights derived from the group have guided APPCS over the past month. As of February, HHTS working groups have begun a review process and commenced an examination of the guidelines designed by APPCS.

From here there will be a further process of appraisal and feedback carried out by the HHTS Advisory Board, Management Committee and Board of Directors.

The key ambition for the Foundation is to develop a strategy that is accessible to everyone within industry, right down to the individual worker.

While there are inherent risk factors relating to psychological safety across the industry, HHTS aims to ensure that mental health becomes as everyday as safety within the sector.

Who is AP Psychology & Consulting Services (APPSC)?

APPCS is an organisational psychology and consulting firm. They empower workplaces to be psychologically safe and thrive. APPCS makes a difference through prevention, protection, promotion and support of psychological safety in the workplace — leading the way through integrated and sustainable evidence-based solutions, initiatives and approaches.

APPCS is experienced and trusted in the sector and has worked with leading supply chain organisations such as Linfox and Woolworths as well as with HHTS industry partner the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

For further information on AP Psychology & Consulting Services go to:

Naomi Frauenfelder, CEO of Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds, brings a wealth of experience to her role as Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds inaugural CEO. Previously Executive Director of the TrackSAFE Foundation — an Australian rail industry not-for-profit, that addresses suicide on the rail network and the resultant trauma caused to train drivers and other frontline staff, Naomi will draw upon and apply her experience to HHTS, to strengthen and grow the organisation and work to improve mental health in the trucking and logistics industry.
To date, Naomi has spent her career honing her passion for working nationally to unite industries behind significant causes such as mental health, providing individuals and organisations with the resources they need to face challenges head-on, creating cultures of care and support. Naomi holds a Bachelor and Masters from Monash University and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.