Excessive workloads cause actual harm

Posted on
June 28, 2021
Health and Safety

Your HACSU news.

Excessive workloads can really harm mental, emotional, and physical health, and fatigue is a major cause of workplace accidents and incidents. Employers rarely deal with it unless prompted by workers’ action, and some mistakenly believe it’s your problem and you should manage your time better, spend less time talking or work more quickly – but this is a blatant attempt to shift their responsibility onto staff. 

If you don’t report excessive workload, you’re enabling management to never address it and encouraging them to keep pushing for more ‘efficiency targets’ because they think that if no-one’s complaining there must be more ‘fat to trim’. 

You can find yourself in a catch 22 where you want to report excessive workload but are so busy you keep putting off doing the paperwork required to formally lodge a complaint, but it’s important to complete an incident report every time you identify an unsafe condition and encourage workmates to do the same.

An incident report places responsibility and accountability back onto the employer where it belongs, gives them nowhere to hide, and can be the start of a paper trail to identify and demonstrate the existence of ongoing problems unresolved by managers. 

How you can recognise excessive workload:   

  • Inadequate time to complete work
  • Insufficient number of staff to complete work
  • Excessive hours
  • Insufficient breaks
  • Performing tasks beyond your position’s statement of duties
  • Lack of necessary resources to carry out the work
  • Rostering with inadequate time for rest to avoid fatigue


What you can do about excessive workload:   

  • Address it as a risk by raising it at Workplace Health & Safety committee meetings
  • Submit incident reports to increase your employer’s awareness
  • Use the in-house complaint procedure to voice workload concern and ask colleagues to do the same, or management won’t understand it’s a widespread problem
  • Organise a meeting through your HACSU delegate
  • Have regular contact with your Health & Safety Rep or WHS committee representative or become one - HACSU can help you in this process
  • Take breaks when they’re due and encourage everyone to do the same. Don’t work through them or cut them short or you endanger your workplace health and safety and create an atmosphere where legitimate breaks are viewed as an optional extra and those who take them are viewed as lazy or not team players
  • Ask for a risk assessment of your working conditions
  • Fully understand what’s expected of you by reading your job description and knowing your workplace policies and procedures
  • Discover what training is available for your role to assist with your workplace safety

Don’t give up - never underestimate the power of committed people because it’s the only thing that’s ever created change.
If you’re worried about your workload HACSUassist offers support and guidance for members and all calls are confidential. Just call 1300 880 032 or email assist@hacsu.org.au

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email assist@hacsu.org.au or complete our online contact form