“What keeps you awake at night?” - Mitigating the risk factor of work stressors in the Exploration and Mining Industries.

“What keeps you awake at night?” – Mitigating the risk factor of work stressors in the Exploration and Mining Industries.

“One of the most revealing questions I would ask people was: ‘what keeps you awake at night?’ Because for every stakeholder, from the C-suite to affected community members, that line of inquiry got through the corporate speak and to the heart of the most personally worrisome and anxiety-laden issues.” Michelle Hohn, Principal at Akashic Communications, and a registered therapeutic counsellor.

The mining and exploration industries are some of the most physically and mentally demanding industries in the world. Employees face many physical and psychological challenges on a daily basis.

‘The significance of being physically safe has been deeply embedded in the newest generation of employees to the extent that we naturally pose such inquiries without any conscious thought. However, in the last few decades, there has been an increasing focus on the broadening of the idea of safety. This is entirely logical. What good is a workplace if it doesn’t take into account the mental well-being of its employees as much as their physical well-being?’ (Source: Integrating psychological health & safety into the mining subconscious, The Intelligent Miner)

Psychological stressors can be any internal or external condition that causes an individual to feel anxious or like they lack control over a particular threat. It can have a negative impact on a worker’s mental and physical health, as well as their productivity.

A psychologically healthy and safe workplace, as defined by the Canadian National Standard, is one that “promotes workers’ psychological wellbeing and actively works to prevent harm to worker psychological health, including in negligent, reckless, or intentional ways”.

Research findings from the WHO show that the most stressful type of work is that which values excessive demands and pressures that are not matched to workers’ knowledge and abilities, where there is little opportunity to exercise any choice or control and where there is little support from others. (Source: Occupational health: Stress at the workplace, World Health Organisation)

This is an important finding. For tenement managers within the mining and exploration industries, a lack of control over work processes could include the use of inferior systems or software such as Excel that is not specifically designed for operation in the jurisdiction in which they are operating and that increases rather than reduces risk.

This lack of control causes ongoing psychological stress – that fear when you are lying in bed wondering if you paid that rent or whether you have entered the correct renewal reminder date for a mining lease that you are managing, or in face renewed that mining lease in time.

As a miner, tenement manager, land manager or approval manager how often have you wished for a solution that could make things just that much easier?

In this blog, we’ll discuss common reasons for psychological stress in the industry and practical steps to reduce it. We’ll also discuss how tools such as PX4 can help reduce stress for miners and explorers.

The Growing Stress of Modern Life

In today’s fast-paced world, stress levels are at an all-time high. The constant demands of work, family, and personal commitments can leave little room for relaxation and mental recovery. For those in the mining and exploration industries, these everyday pressures are compounded by the significant responsibilities and high stakes associated with their roles.

The Responsibility of Managers

Managers have a crucial role in addressing and mitigating stress within their teams. It’s essential to recognise that psychological stress is not just a personal issue but a workplace concern that can affect overall productivity and well-being. Managers must be proactive in creating a supportive environment where employees feel valued, understood and have control. Managers must also recognise signs of and manage their own mental stress as this can also significantly impact the performance of the people with which they work.

Psychological Stress at Work

Psychological Stress at Work Psychological stress at work is a serious issue. It can lead to a host of problems, including anxiety, depression, burnout, and physical health issues. When employees are constantly worried about whether they’ve met all their obligations, it takes a toll on their mental health.’ (Source: Occupational health: Stress at the workplace, World Health Organisation)

This is particularly true in the mining industry, where the stakes are high, and the margin for error is slim.

The Problem with Excel and Outdated Software

Managing tenements, claims, licences or permits on Excel spreadsheets or outdated software could be a significant source of stress and a manifest in a very real “lack of control”. Whilst Excel is a wonderful spreadsheet tool, it is not fit for purpose in the tenement management world. It lacks automation and requires constant manual updates and checks. The fear of missing a deadline, overlooking a critical piece of information, or making an error is ever-present, leading to sleepless nights and ongoing anxiety.

Reducing Psychological Stress with Modern Solutions

Fit-for-Purpose Tools: Utilising software that is specifically designed for tenement, claim or licence management in your jurisdiction can greatly reduce stress. These tools are built to handle the specific requirements and legislative nuances of different regions, ensuring compliance and reducing the likelihood of errors.

Automation: Modern software solutions like PX4 automate reminders and audit data, greatly reducing the burden on employees and allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks. Automated alerts for deadlines, renewals, and compliance requirements mean that important dates and obligations are never missed.

Legislative Compliance: Having a system that aligns with the legislative requirements of your jurisdiction ensures that all actions taken are compliant with local laws. This reduces the risk of fines and legal issues, which are significant stressors for managers and employees alike.

The Value of Reducing Psychological Stress

“A Harvard Study reports that 60 to 90% of all visits to a GP have a significant stress component.”

“Mental stress, regardless of whether it is work-related or not, if not managed properly, affects an employee’s ability to feel well, think well, behave well, work well and work safely.” (Source: Stressed out, Australian Mine Safety Journal)

Reducing psychological stress is invaluable. It leads to happier, healthier employees who are more productive and engaged in their work. When employees are not bogged down by the fear of missing critical deadlines or making costly mistakes, they can perform at their best.

By investing in modern, fit-for-purpose solutions like PX4, companies can significantly reduce the stress associated with outdated tools and processes. This not only improves the well-being of their employees but also enhances overall operational efficiency and effectiveness.

We’re sure that we can all agree that addressing psychological stress in the mining and exploration industries is essential. By transitioning from outdated software to modern solutions like PX4, companies can significantly reduce stress levels, ensure compliance, and create a more productive and positive work environment.

“The impact of stress-related illness in the mining sector is greater than many suspect,” writes Helen Gibbons
“My always thought is … PX4 takes away the 3am stress where you think, ‘when is this due?’” states Sarah Harris, June 2024.

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