Niki Ellis | KISS is dead: no more reductionism
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KISS is dead: no more reductionism

19 Mar 2015, Posted by Professor Niki Ellis in Uncategorized

These ideas have far reaching implications for WHS. For a start we need to recognise that the health issues with which we are dealing are complex. For too long we have accepted a reductionist approach – focusing on the easier to identify workplace risk factors and neglecting workplace psychosocial risks arising from precarious work, bad job design and toxic managers.

Our KISS approach (keep it simple stupid) stood us in good stead for decades. It has its advantages but we have well and truly come unstuck on mental health.

I recall the Productivity Commissioner who led the benchmarking review on OHS regulation in the early 2000s saying he was astonished how unprepared Australian OHS authorities were for mental health.

We have been slow to grapple with the complexity of the inter-relationship between physical and psychosocial causes and physical and mental health outcomes; and the obvious fact that health at work is affected by a combination of personal and environmental determinants from home and the community as well as in workplaces.

We know but largely ignore that the broader economy is a major driver of claims performance, and that when people run out of workers’ compensation they fall back on the social security system. We have shockingly failed to adequately address the significant contribution work makes to cardiovascular disorders, cancers and other diseases.