QLD Does an employer owe a duty of care that their employee is mentally healthy?

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kingofmeereen

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6 March 2020
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Like for example, a paramedic or a police are expected to witness very brutal scenes. Do their employers owe them a duty of care in ensuring they are still mentally healthy and if not and they do suffer some form of psychiatric injury, will they be entitled to sue their employer for compensation?
 

Tim W

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What's the actual background to your question?
 

kingofmeereen

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6 March 2020
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Like for example, a paramedic or a police are expected to witness very brutal scenes. Do their employers owe them a duty of care in ensuring they are still mentally healthy and if not and they do suffer some form of psychiatric injury, will they be entitled to sue their employer for compensation?
What do you mean? That's pretty much the question. If they suffer some sort of trauma or psychological difficulty in their line of work, would they have grounds to say that their employers were negligent because they didn't prevent the trauma or psychological difficulty from being suffered by their employee?
 

Rod

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The employer is not necessarily negligent. Policing is inherently dangerous and not every dangerous situation is caused by the employer and all the employer can do is minimise risk. The employer may be negligent but it will not always be the case.
 

Tim W

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To answer the orignal question..
No, there is no special, express duty, in relation mental health, as distinct from physical health, in WHS law.

Understand however, that there is a duty to risk-manage and mitigate occupation-specific hazards.
In the case of emergency services (and indeed of the Human Services professions generally) ,
occupation specific hazards can certainly include exposure to violence, or to the consequences of violence to others, or exposure to distressing or traumatic scenes generally.
That duty certainly exists.
 
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