Transport, Postal and Warehousing resource kit
The Transport, Postal and Warehousing sector have common that can increase the risk of workers developing poor mental health.
Learn what these factors are, how to address them and what resources you can use to create a mentally healthy workplace.
The importance of a mentally healthy workplace
A mentally healthy workplace provides benefits to your business’ bottom line as well as worker satisfaction. Poor workplace mental health can increase levels of staff leave, staff turnover and workers compensation claims, as well as reduce productivity.
Mental health hazards are a significant issue across the Transport, Postal and Warehousing sector. This is due to the nature of the work which often takes place in isolated environments, with long hours and workloads dictated by external factors.
How to identify and manage psychosocial risk factors
There are risk factors that are common across the Transport, Postal and Warehousing sector that can increase the risk of workers developing mental ill-health.
Learn about these factors and what actions you can take to manage them.
Excessive demands, low control
High demands are not always a risk themselves but can be when combined with low control. This can be hard to manage in the sector as workloads and timelines are often driven by external factors like peak holiday periods or route infrastructure updates. Work hours are subject to change at any time based on factors like weather, traffic, accidents or customer/passenger issues.
What it looks like
Increased pressure to meet deadlines
High volume of work, trips or deliveries to complete with short turnaround times, especially during peak seasonal periods or when external circumstances impact travel routes or supply chains.
Low control of work hours and breaks
Shift work, rotating rosters, unpredictable work hours caused by external factors (for example; delays, waiting periods, road conditions, track work or extreme weather) and breaks dictated by logbook hours or passengers, not by the worker themselves.
Long hours and fatigue
Long-haul deliveries, trips or shifts requiring prolonged concentration, tiredness caused by not being able to sleep or rest when it is needed, lessened ability to cope with stress while at work and greater risk of exposure to injuries or near misses with accidents.
What you can do
- Start an open discussion with your workers about their workloads. Seek feedback on what reasonable adjustments you could make to help them better manage their work. For example, allocating more time to complete large/difficult tasks or developing a system to prioritise tasks each shift.
- Adopt a working-hours policy to track, manage and limit excessive work hours.
- Onboard and train workers in advance of busy periods to ensure enough support is available when workloads start increasing.
- Talk to workers when developing rosters. Allow them to provide shift preferences and share feedback on the number of workers needed to meet demands.
- Develop a timely notification system to inform workers of external events as they arise, enabling workers to plan for short notice delays or schedule changes.
- Make sure to allocate sufficient time for breaks within working hours and ensure workers have access to clean, comfortable facilities for rest.
- Give workers a say in when they take their breaks. For example, provide the option to break anytime within a certain timeslot with flexibility around the number of / length of breaks during this time. Also consider setting a total break time with flexibility around when it is taken.
- Encourage workers to take leave to recover from periods of high demand.
- Provide fatigue management information to all workers and ensure they have access to practical guidance on how to manage fatigue.
Low recognition and reward
Every worker plays a role in ensuring goods are processed and delivered efficiently or passengers are transported smoothly. However everyone's individual contributions towards this goal may not always be recognised or rewarded. In 2021, less than 13% of workers in the sector strongly agreed that they received appropriate rewards and recognition for doing a great job.
What it looks like
Limited measures of success (for example; sole focus on outputs, not recognising other aspects of job performance), inadequate performance feedback or imbalance of employees' efforts with recognition received (for example; pay rates not matching performance/job difficulty, lack of praise for managing challenging situations or consistent good work not acknowledged).
Limited career support
Lack of opportunity for development, underpayment or non-payment for overtime hours and underutilising worker’s skills (nearly a third of people within the sector have vocational education qualifications, yet over half of workers are employed in lower skilled jobs).
What you can do
- Establish policies and practices that acknowledge workers’ efforts and show they are appreciated in a fair and timely way.
- Provide regular feedback on performance. Consider setting up a schedule to ensure each worker receives feedback within a particular timeframe.
- Use performance reviews as a time to provide positive and constructive advice for future performance, including opportunities to discuss skill development.
- Praise workers whenever tasks have been done well or for attributes such as consistency and reliability. It doesn’t always need to be done formally, even a small conversation to recognise someone’s work can make a difference.
- Find ways to reward workers for their skill or effort, not just for their contribution or productivity (for example; offer incentives, which could be monetary or relate to opportunities for advancement, skill development or extra leave time).
- Celebrate team successes, acknowledging individual’s role in the bigger picture.
- Provide workers with opportunities for career development such as mentoring programs or online training courses relevant to worker’s areas of interest.
- Start a rewards program to acknowledge good performance in key priority areas for your business such as commitment to safety, percentage of on-time deliveries or keeping equipment, vehicles or packages in good condition.
Remote and isolated work
Remote and isolated work can involve being physical and/or socially distant from others. Work in this sector can often take place during traditional times of leisure (holidays, evenings, and weekends) or in remote geographic locations, separating workers from their support networks. This extends to relationships with colleagues as workers in this sector report low feelings of trust amongst workers and feeling less like a community beyond the workplace.
What it looks like
Work that requires a person to be physically or socially distant from others (like family, friends or colleagues) due to the location, time or the nature of work. It could be working on transit routes far from population centres or warehouse shifts outside of ‘normal working hours’. This can leave workers feeling disconnected from others and can put a strain on their social lives or carer responsibilities.
Limited access to support
Working without reliable communication or access to immediate attention from rescue, medical or emergency services. Variable shift times and locations can also make it challenging to attend scheduled appointments or access services with limited open hours or in metropolitan areas.
What you can do
- Establish and maintain frequent communication with remote or isolated workers, to ensure they feel supported and connected in their work.
- Provide communication devices that allow workers to call for help in the event of an emergency in any situation or location (for example; satellite communication systems, personal distress system or radio communications).
- Allocate time within long shift periods for workers to prioritise their health (get exercise, communicate with family or attend medical appointments).
- Develop a check-in process whereby workers are required to contact ‘home base’ at a nominated time during work hours.
- Pair workers with a buddy to check-in and connect with that person on a regular basis. Make sure workers who offer to be someone’s buddy know where they can refer them if they feel that person needs help from support services.
- Encourage social connection and create opportunities for colleagues to get to know each other. Check out the icare Social Connections Toolkit for advice on how to create a socially connected workplace.
- Share sector-specific resources to help build connection such as Health in Gear's Share the Load podcast series with stories from drivers across Australia.
Harmful workplace behaviours
Workers in this sector experience some of the highest levels of workplace bullying, with rates above the national average. The sector has one of the highest rates of sexual harassment, with nearly half of all female workers reporting that they experienced workplace sexual harassment in the last five years. The isolating nature of the work could also contribute to workers' risk of being exposed to violence, harassment or bullying.
What it looks like
Repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. This could come from passengers, customers or colleagues. Workers bullied by their colleagues could be teased, denied access to information, be subject to excessive scrutiny or had their work arrangements set up in a way that deliberately inconveniences them.
Unwelcome sexual advances, comments, propositions, or requests – verbal or physical. This could include inappropriate enquiries about a person’s sex life, sharing sexual material or attempting to coerce a person into any form of sexual activity. Workers in this sector are at risk of experiencing this while working but also on break periods (as rest areas can often be in isolated spaces).
What you can do
- Develop a policy to set the expectations of workplace behaviour and address bullying, discrimination, and harassment.
- Promote the policies internally, consider launching them at a full staff meeting with endorsement from senior management, distribute copies to all workers and display them prominently in workspaces and break areas. Ensure they are accessible to remote workers, workers from different cultural backgrounds, workers with disabilities and those who are new to the workplace.
- Ensure all workers understand their responsibilities to prevent and report incidents of bullying or harassment, ensuring those promoted to management positions understand their additional responsibilities in these areas.
- Establish clear processes to address bullying or workplace sexual harassment if it occurs, with support for those who report this behaviour and safeguards to ensure that individuals associated with these complaints are not victimised.
- Provide training and resources to workers on how to prevent and manage workplace bullying and sexual harassment.
- Conduct regular reviews to monitor the incidence of harassment or bullying and measure the effectiveness the training, reporting processes and policies in place.
- Identify employees to act as complaint officers, giving workers an option to raise incidents with if they do not feel comfortable approaching their direct supervisor.
- Report serious injury or illness, a death or dangerous incidents to SafeWork NSW. Complete this form to report workplace bullying to SafeWork NSW.
Exposure to traumatic events
Workers in this sector often have direct contact with the general public, with many relying on them for essential services like food delivery, postal services or transport. This can put sector workers at risk of having aggressive or unreasonable behaviour directed towards them. By working alongside the general public, they are also at risk of witnessing these behaviours between customers or passengers. Workers on the road or on public transport routes can also be exposed to incidents that can result in death or serious injury. This could be one incident or the cumulative impact of incidents over time.
What it looks like
Exposure to serious accidents or events
Witnessing or being part of serious road accidents, train derailments, collisions, near misses, suicides or threats to life. Almost half of all mental illness claims from the transport, postal and warehousing industry are associated with a vehicle accident.
Exposure to violence and harassment
Receiving or witnessing any form of abuse, threats or assaults, either verbal or physical, from passengers, colleagues or members of the public while on the job. Nearly half of all sector workers have witnessed sexual harassment at work. Those who work in isolated, hostile or high-pressure environments or in the vicinity of people who are intoxicated are at a heightened risk of exposure.
What you can do
- Develop a traumatic event management plan to provide guidance on what your workplace should do before, during and after a traumatic event to reduce the risk of harm. Promote the plan with workers so they understand how their workplace will manage and provide support if they experience traumatic events at work.
- Provide additional support and debriefing for workers after exposure to traumatic events, which includes providing referrals to support services as needed.
- Foster supportive working relationships such as a peer support program for workers who have been exposed to traumatic events.
- Build a good work culture where workers feel safe to talk openly about their mental health when they need to. Start building this culture by having conversations with workers who might be doing it tough, check out the R U OK? In Trucks & Sheds resources, designed specifically for this sector.
- Actively promote your workplace counselling service or Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If you don't have these services in your workplace, there are many free support services, tools and resources available. Share these with your team regularly, so they know where to go if they need support.
- Make small adjustments to support your workers, like changing a person’s work location or offering more flexibility in their work hours, based on what that worker needs. These small changes can make a big difference to someone recovering from injury or illness.
Hear from a sector leader
Dr Peter Cock is CEO at Newcastle Airport which facilitates around 1.3 million passengers per year. He believes that it’s a leader’s role to embed wellbeing and mental health into all elements of the business.
Watch Peter share his insights on mental health in the sector:
Transport, Postal and Warehousing sector resources
Check out these resources designed for the Transport, Postal and Warehousing sector to help support good mental health in your workplace:
Sign up for free training delivered by the Black Dog Institute and tailored to your sector.
Read the Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds National Mental Health and Wellbeing Roadmap, a unified plan for improving mental health and wellbeing in the sector, as well as the Guidelines for Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategies.
Download the Healthy Heads app, designed to promote better access to mental health and physical wellbeing support across the sector.
Visit Health in Gear, an OzHelp Foundation health and wellbeing program specifically for transport and logistics workers and their families.
Print and put this sector-specific poster up at your workplace to direct workers to information and resources available to support their mental health at work.
Visit SafeWork NSW’s Transport, Postal and Warehousing industry page for practical and tailored work health and safety information.
Resources to support workplace mental health in a specific area within the sector.
SafeWork NSW Safety Around Your Vehicle Glove Box Guide to manage both physical and mental health of workers.
SafeWork NSW Road Freight Transport Guide provides guidance relevant to New South Wales work health and safety (WHS) laws and is a useful resource for operators, drivers and all involved in the road freight transport industry.
Driving For Work: Health and Wellbeing toolbox talk to encourage conversations about mental health.
Driving Health Allocator Training Program (DHAT) free program for allocators, supervisors and line managers of truck drivers.
Driving Health Project online webinar series, informed by evidence-based strategies, to improve the health of the Australian truck drivers.
Service Your Mind digital resources toolkit for drivers, schedulers, supervisors and owner-operators to generate awareness about the importance of maintaining good physical and mental health as a worker on the roads.
SafeWork NSW Young Workers eToolkitto support young drivers who need more training and support while they are developing their knowledge, skills and confidence in the workplace.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) resources on depression and anxiety in the aviation industry.
HIMS Australia confidential peer mentoring program to assist and support airline pilots through recovery and rehabilitation froman alcohol or drug dependence.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) fatigue management strategies and resources for aviation workers.
SafeWork NSW provides a Food Delivery Rider Safety Fact Sheet summary of what the platform, food outlets and riders must do to keep safe and information sheet with advice for keeping delivery drivers safe.
- Australian Maritime Safety Authority fatigue guidelines for managing and reducing the risk of fatigue at sea and managing crew fatigue.
TrackSAFE Foundation harm prevention charity focused works to improve the wellbeing of rail workers in Australia, with specific training courses for wellbeing and trauma management for rail workers.
Get support now
Health in Gear
Phone support for transport and logistics workers and their families
Phone: 1800 IN GEAR (1800 464 327)
Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds
Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds is a registered not-for-profit charitable Foundation, that provides tools, information, resources and training material tailored to the needs of the road transport, warehousing and logistics industries in Australia
Find other mental health support services here.
Everyone has the right to a healthy and safe workplace, including workplaces in planes, trucks and courier vans. Employers have a legal obligation to manage risks and ensure workers’ health and safety.
SafeWork NSW offers free advice and support to help businesses, industry and workers maintain a safe workplace and meet their health and safety responsibilities.
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