Using work design to prevent psychological injuries among healthcare and social assistance workers

Design for Care, a new injury prevention initiative for healthcare and social assistance workers, is being launched this October, Safe Work Month and Mental Health Month.

Medical staff smile on a break.

Curtin University's Centre for Transformative Work Design has received funding by Insurance and Care NSW (icare) to explore how improving work design might reduce psychosocial risks, get better mental health outcomes and prevent psychological injuries in the residential and community care segment of the healthcare and social assistance industry.

icare claims data has revealed that in recent years the industry has experienced a rise in psychological injury-related claims.

Chris Harnett, General Manager of Prevention, explains how icare is seeking innovative ways to improve support to these workers.

"It is imperative for us to identify and manage psychosocial hazards and risks if we want to address the trend of rising psychological injuries and enhance overall health and wellbeing," says Chris.

"Following a competitive selection process, Curtin University, in collaboration with the University of Sydney and Monash University, was chosen to partner with us in this undertaking."

The need for workplaces to support the mental health of their employees is evident, with poor work and job design identified as key psychosocial risk factors. Work design has a major impact on how employees feel about their work—whether they are engaged or stressed—and how this can affect their motivation and performance to support their organisation achieve its targets.

Raashi Kumar, Social Investment Manager in icare's Strategic Investments & Innovation team (formerly icare Foundation) explains that Curtin University's research into work design is internationally acclaimed.

"They have developed practical, sustainable solutions that have improved the working lives and mental health in a range of different industries," says Raashi.

"Now Curtin University can tailor their research to meet the specific needs of the healthcare and social assistance industry. Through establishing an industry community of practice, they will be able to facilitate wide-ranging input from providers."

“We are confident this will result in a greater understanding of psychosocial hazards and risks and ultimately enhance productivity and job satisfaction, with the aim of reducing psychological injuries.”
Raashi Kumar

At the virtual launch event on 27 October 2021, Professor Sharon Parker, Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design, will outline Curtin University's SMART work design model and the role of work design in creating thriving organisations.

"We hope many employers, industry associations and government will attend to learn more about work design," says Raashi.

"With opportunities for them to participate in this initiative, we hope it has significant benefits for their employees and, ultimately, for their businesses."

Learn more about the launch event  



  • Review of Evidence of Psychosocial Risks for Mental Ill-health in the Workplace, Brain and Mind Centre.
  • Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces, National Mental Health Commission/The Mentally Health Workplace Alliance/UNSW/Black Dog Institute.