What are Psychosocial Hazards and Mental Health?
In most States and Territories, as an employer is required to do by law, they must do everything they reasonably can to prevent harm arising from work.
The new legislated Codes of Practice gives guidance on how specific risks can be managed and how to limit physical risks of harm at work, such as working in confined spaces or managing electrical risks.
We now need to ensure that the work design, the work itself and the interactions between employees are adequate, as they can impact employee mental health and emotional well-being.
Simply, any stressors or inability to cope at work becomes an employer’s problem. Whether it is internal or external stressors, it is an employer’s duty to prevent risks to workers’ psychosocial health.
When does it come into effect?
Effective from 1 April 2023, a new Code of Practice on managing ‘psychosocial hazards’ has been implemented and regulated across Australia. The Code has been published by Safe Work Australia, and the States and Territories will likely implement it in each of their jurisdictions over the coming months.
In the event of a serious incident (e.g. suicide which may have arisen from work stress), safety regulators will assess the extent of compliance by an employer against the Code.
Employers are expected to demonstrate that they have met the safety obligations owed to employees.
In extreme cases, failure to implement the guidance provided by the Code may result in a prosecution under safety laws, with the potential for very large fines and potential imprisonment for senior staff.
What does this mean to me as an employer/manager?
As an employer, you must manage psychosocial hazards by law, so far as reasonably practicable. This includes identifying hazards, eliminating or minimising risks, controlling risks in accordance with the hierarchy of controls, and maintaining and reviewing control measures.
Simple actions that you can implement in your business can be:
- Talk to your staff and conduct well-being check-ins and discuss work design
- Better designed job roles or have workers’ position descriptions and KPIs reviewed
- Build resilience within the team
- Conducting personality profiling, staff surveys, culture surveys or group sessions
- Review your Company culture and strategy
- Refresh your expectations to get employee buy-in
- Introduce social events or team-building exercises
- Empower your team and trust in the work they do
- Train managers on how to better manage workloads
- Employ more workers and attract great talent
- Increase mental health awareness such as Are you ok? Day or mental health week
- Provide mental health education and speak openly about mental health conditions or even consider providing Employer Assistance Program (EAP) or Beyond Blue
- Consider reviewing or improving company processes and software
Employee expectations of psychologically safe workplaces a defined reality.
This is a key compliance risk and responsibility for HR to manage in 2023. If you need any assistance in implementing any of the above options or want to arrange ways to minimise psychosocial hazards in the workplace, then contact our team at 1300 4 ADVICE.
Keep an eye out in the coming months for more ways to minimise hazards and improve your workers’ well-being!
If you need help with any HR matter, then please contact one of our friendly HR team who will be more than happy to help you with your needs. Phone: 1300 4 ADVICE