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Massey to study F&B sector mental wellbeing

14th December 2020 By Staff Reporter | | @foodtickernz

The mental wellbeing of staff in New Zealand’s food and grocery sector will be at the centre of a new Massey University study surveying psychosocial risks in the workplace. 

Dr Kate Blackwood is one of three key researchers involved in the project. Image: Supplied

Eight small Auckland-based food and grocery manufacturers, with 100 employees or less, are being sought to take part in the study that will result in a customised mental health toolkit for their business. 

Dr Kate Blackwood, Massey University professor and one of three key researchers on the project, said the main focus would be identifying psychosocial risks at work.

Blackwood said it was common for organisations to prioritise physical safety measures.

“In New Zealand we have a real focus on physical safety and I think there is only recently been a real shift towards focusing on mental harm and mental health. 

“Traditionally the focus of Occupational Health & Safety in the sector has been on that.”

Blackwood said they were currently working with industry stakeholders like the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council to recruit for volunteer businesses.

“We’ll assess psychosocial hazards and develop tailored wellbeing initiatives to combat risks to wellbeing in the workplace. 

“We take a systems approach so we’re really interested in what factors in the work environment can cause harm and stress to the employee, for example work structures and processes and the management of work which can impact on our stress levels.” 

Once the businesses have been chosen, researchers will work with them for the first half of next year to assess their work environment and any risks. 

From around June 2021 Blackwood said they would begin implementing their wellbeing action plans, or toolkits over a 12-month period.

Massey University is also conducting the same study across two other sectors, early childhood and community health.



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