Abstract from paper:
A growing body of international evidence indicates that downsizing and related forms of organisational restructuring can have profound adverse effects on worker safety, health and wellbeing. In particular, evidence links downsizing to poorer mental health outcomes, bullying and other forms of occupational violence. In Australia federal, state and territory occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation imposes clear obligations on employers who initiate downsizing/restructuring in relation to risk assessment, consultation with employee representatives and the introduction of appropriate measures to manage any significant hazards that are identified, including psychosocial hazards. As yet Australian regulators, like their counterparts in other countries, have made only modest efforts to address the issue, producing some guidance material that refers to restructuring and workloads and launching a small number of prosecutions. At the same time, interviews indicate regulators are aware of the issue and that there is an increased willingness to address staffing levels and other impacts of downsizing (like working in isolation). Employer and union responses are also examined. The paper concludes by indicating a number of initiatives that would enable regulators, unions and employers to address the problems posed by downsizing more effectively.