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Work and Health Research Team

Promoting safe work practices for workers and their families

The Work and Health Research Team investigates how to minimise the ill health and injury caused by work structures, while also looking to maximise the positive contribution of work to wellbeing and quality of life.

About us

The Work and Health Research Team identifies forms of work that enhance psychological and physical well-being, while improving productivity and allowing organisations and communities to flourish.

Most of our projects employ multiple methods and are supported by our diverse multidisciplinary team. Our team provides results that inform policy and practice for a wide variety of stakeholders including employers, employees, families, trade unions and government agencies.

Research themes

The research we undertake targets three thematic areas:

  1. Work and mental health
    We have a strong record in conducting and disseminating research that examines work and mental health, including looking at occupations, traumatic exposure at work and work outcomes, the consequences of fatal worker injuries for surviving families, and initiatives to improve the mental health of working age men.
  2. Work availability and well-being
    Our researchers are targeting work injury prevention, the impact of physical activity in working life on the need for recovery from work, and the promotion of workplace-based physical activity, work ability and wellbeing in the context of an increasingly sedentary working population.
  3. Precarious employment and flexible work
    This research investigates the effects of precarious or flexible employment, such as casual, temporary or contract work, on health and safety. We focus on the development and testing of new measures of precariousness as well as the Pressure, Disorganisation and Regulatory Failure model intended to explain the effects of precarious employment situations.

Our work

  • In an partnership with Acacia Connections, Work and Health is looking to increase the uptake of Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services by men
  • Well@Work, an Australian Mental Health Initiative grant (Movember Foundation, Beyond Blue)
  • FIFO work at the South Flank Project (funded by BHP Billiton)
  • Occupational traumatic exposure: Prevalence, work outcomes, and interventions (WorkSafe BC, Canada)
  • Occupational traumatic exposure: Preventive Interventions (WorkSafe BC, Canada)
  • A constraint based AI approach to roster generation: An alternative to probabilistic methods (Bond Uni, Ximes, Vienna)
  • Return to work for cancer survivors: Pilot work involving a survey and interviews with cancer survivors attending Blacktown Hospital clinics.
  • Death at Work: Improving Support for Families study, published in July 2017, showed that the mental health impact of a sudden fatal work injury for next of kin and families can be long lasting with clinical levels of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), prolonged grief disorder, and major depression reporte at an average of 7 years following the death.
  • Associate Professor Lynda Matthews was invited as expert witness to give evidence and submit recommendations to the 2018 Senate Inquiry into the Prevention, Investigation, and Prosecution of Industrial Deaths in Australia.
  • The Move to New Building Study examines how new office building designs might promote better workforce health and is assessing effects of new building designs, activity based working and ambience on health behaviours and workplace perceptions of occupants.
  • As part of History Week 2018, Emeritus Professor Michael Quinlan, renowned expert witness and researcher on OHS and safety crimes, was hosted by the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History to present a keynote on the barriers confronting families seeking justice following safety crimes in Australia.

Our people

Research student projects

'Development of a recovery model for adults with moderate mental health conditions who have been previously gainfully employed and are receiving Income Protection Insurance benefits'

The focus of the research is to understand the recovery journey of unemployed adults affected by a moderate mental health condition who have been previously gainfully employed. The research aims to identify key themes, stages or milestones specific to this group that can form the basis for a recovery model. By understanding and mapping this journey, people with moderate mental health conditions, their families, employers and treating health professionals can be better informed about appropriate and suitably timed recovery services.

'Rural and remote rehabilitation case managers’ perspectives on compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue influences on quality of work life'

Scoping review to identify published risk and protective factors for compassion satisfaction and fatigue in rural and remote rehabilitation and healthcare professionals’ (R&HPs), in depth interviews with rural and remote R&HPs to identify local experiences, and national survey of rural and remote R&HPs to identify scope of compassion satisfaction and fatigue and its impact on quality of working life.

'An investigation into workplace violence and psychosocial hazards for home health workers'

Survey of health professionals visiting people in their own homes, and in depth interviews with health professionals working in the homes of people with dementia.

'Cognitive assessment and rehabilitation after breast cancer treatment: Implications for return to work and the role of occupational therapy'

Scoping review of work and cognition following breast cancer, analysis of Women’s Health Data relating to 1000 women reporting breast cancer, use of the PRPP assessment to identify cognitive issues in the workplace.

'Returning to work after a burn injury'

Scoping review of current management of work after burn injury, qualitative investigation into the experience of return to work after a burn injury and a longitudinal study of burn survivors.

Predicting the amount of domestic assistance required by a person who has sustained a musculoskeletal injury.

Scoping review of the role of housework in everyday life and management of housework affected by injuries. Focus groups of occupational therapists and insurers involved in the compensation process. Survey of solicitors managing claims.

Research lead

Associate Professor Lynda Matthews
View academic profile