By Victoria Li

The Work Health and Safety Act defines “health” to include both physical and psychological health.  However, while employers take their responsibilities and proactive actions to prevent physical injury at the workplace, psychosocial risks and hazards are often forgotten in the corner, which may result in employees’ mental health issues or psychological injury. To give clear and practical guidance to employers on how to create and maintain mentally healthy workplaces, Work Safe QLD has published the Code of Practice: Managing the Risk of Psychosocial Hazards at Work.

To manage and reduce the potential risk to health and safety, the first step would be identifying the psychosocial hazards in the workplace. Apart from discrimination and harassment, which are the most commonly acknowledged hazards, the following situations/elements can also bring risk to employee’s mental health and are often missed:

  • High and/or low job demands;
  • Poor organizational change management and/or communication;
  • Traumatic events;
  • Poor and/or difficult work arrangements, including remote or isolated work;
  • Low reward and recognition

Once psychosocial hazards have been identified, employers should assess the level of risk the identified hazards may present by conducting a risk assessment. This will help to determine what control measures are reasonably practicable in the circumstances.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act, employers must eliminate or minimize risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable. To achieve this objective, the following control measures can be taken as needed by the business:

  • Implementing clear policies and procedures that outline what is and is not acceptable behavior in the workplace, as well as what employees should do if they experience or witness any form of harassment, bullying, or discrimination.
  • Encouraging open communications between managers and employees. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can be useful in creating a safe space for employees to share their thoughts and concerns.
  • Providing training and education to their employees on topics such as stress management, conflict resolution, and communication skills. This can help employees better manage their own mental and emotional health, as well as improve their ability to navigate difficult situations with their coworkers.
  • Offer external mental health support to employees when needed.

In today’s fast-paced and changing work environment, employees are often exposed to a variety of psychosocial hazards. It is important for employers to keep reviewing, assessing and potentially changing their measures to manage psychosocial hazards at the workplace and minimize the related risks to employees’ health and safety.

At Integrated Human Resourcing, we work closely with your business to understand your needs and to ensure ongoing business success. If you need assistance with establishing HR policies and procedures or conducting risk assessments to promote a positive workplace culture free from harassment or discrimination, please feel free to contact us. Email: info@humanresourcing.com.au or Phone: (07) 5613 1846