Friday, 28 October 2022

Psychosocial hazards in your workplace: Is your employer doing the right thing?

An amendment to WHS legislation in NSW, means that from 1 October 2022, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) are expressly required to manage psychosocial risks in the workplace.

 The Work Health and Safety Amendment Regulation 2022  inserts new provisions on the management of psychosocial risks in the workplace. It defines ‘psychosocial hazard’ and ‘psychosocial risk’ and clarifies the appropriate control measures that PCBUs are required to implement to manage those risks.

So, what are psychosocial hazards?

Examples of psychosocial hazards identified in the SafeWork NSW Code of practice Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work are:

  • job demands
  • low job control
  • poor support
  • lack of role clarity
  • poor organisational change management
  • inadequate reward and recognition
  • traumatic events or material
  • remote work
  • violence and aggression
  • bullying and harassment

What does this mean for your employer?

NSW employers need to undertake risk assessments and review their control measures in relation to psychosocial hazards.

This involves undertaking the following steps in consultation with workers and Health and Safety Representatives:

  • Identify any psychosocial hazards
  • Assess the risk of harm of all identified hazards
  • Control risks by eliminating and minimising them as much as possible
  • Review any control measures implemented, to ensure they are effective

Safe Work Australia has a useful infographic to assist.

Officers of the PCBU should be particularly mindful of how this change impacts on their due diligence obligations under the WHS Act. Officers should ensure that they have taken all reasonably practicable steps to gain an understanding of the psychosocial risks faced by the PCBU; and to ensure that the PCBU has, and implements, processes for complying with the duty to eliminate or minimise psychosocial risks to workers.