Addressing musculoskeletal and mental health disorders in transportation: Using systems thinking and implementation science to improve prevention

The multi-phase project will use principles of systems thinking and implementation science to develop an education package for work health and safety (WHS) professionals, managers, and supervisors on the prevention of musculoskeletal and mental health disorders (MSDs and MHDs). The project will target the transport sector which has high levels of both MSDs and MHDs, and the outcomes will support workplaces to be “mentally healthy” by adopting a prevention focus through upskilling of their WHS staff, managers and supervisors in evidence and strategies of what is required to address these complex health problems.


Psychosocial hazards have a major impact on both MSD and MHDs which are currently two major WHS issues. Despite a legal requirement for employers to ensure a safe and healthy workforce, workplace managers typically lack the skills in how to develop interventions to address psychosocial hazards. Thus, a need exists to support and enable WHS professionals and workplace managers and supervisors to manage risk from psychosocial hazards more effectively to reduce high levels of MSDs and MHDs. The project is funded by WorkSafe Victoria.


  1. Identify current controls and feedback mechanisms for the management of MSDs and MHDs in the transport sector
  2. Identify workplace stakeholder beliefs and attitudes about factors affecting the incidence of MSDs and MHDs
  3. Develop and pilot education resources for WHS professionals, managers and supervisors on effective risk management of MSDs and MHDs


A Systems Theoretic Accident Model and Processes (STAMP) model will be drafted using data from peer reviewed and grey literature, and feedback obtained from workshops (2 x 3-hour duration) conducted with key stakeholders (6-8) from the transport sector. Online interviews (25) will be conducted to document knowledge on work-related MHD and MSD causation (including beliefs and opinions), barriers and facilitators to implementing strategies to address psychosocial hazards, and resources needed to control psychosocial hazards. Data will be collated to inform development of an education package for WHS professionals, managers and supervisors on effective risk management of MSDs and MHDs. The package will be piloted in the transport sector prior to being evaluated and adapted for broader distribution.

Project participants

The researchers are seeking stakeholders to participate in an Industry Advisory Group and workshops to draft a STAMP model. Eligible stakeholders may qualify if they meet the following criteria:

  • A current member of the National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP)
  • Over 18 years of age and able to read English
  • Currently engaged in the transport industry as a supervisor, manager or Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Professional (regarding WHS professionals, this may include other roles (eg. Human Resources (HR) who manage/co-ordinate WHS as a core component of their role)
  • Currently engaged in the transport industry within an organisation consisting of greater than 25 employees

If you would like more information or are interested in being part of the study, please contact:

Name: Assoc Professor Jodi Oakman
School/Department: Department of Public Health, Centre for Ergonomics & Human Factors
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 03 9479 3235

Research team

Associate Professor Jodi Oakman, La Trobe University – Principal Investigator
Associate Professor Sharon Newnam, QUT – Co-Investigator
Natasha Kinsman, La Trobe University – Co-Investigator
Bronwen Otto, La Trobe University – Student Investigator