5 Common Workplace Psychosocial Hazards 

by Oct 20, 2023View All, WH&S

We have seen some major changes to Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) legislation this year surrounding psychosocial hazards, with a broadening of the extent that it can be identified and substantiated in the workplace. The real concern for employers is the requirement to manage Psychosocial hazards and risks as they derive from a worker’s individual perceptions, making them subjective and often rendering ‘standardised’ solutions ineffective. 

As an employer in Australia, you have an obligation to eliminate and to minimise psychosocial risks, as is reasonably practicable, in accordance with the Workplace Health and Safety Code of Conduct, to keep your workers safe and free of harm. In 2021, 44% of Australian’s reported having experienced a psychosocial injury at some stage within their lifetime (AIHW, 2021). It is an issue of rising national concern.

To help businesses uphold compliance and to better support workers, we have identified 6 Psychosocial Hazards that we often find businesses overlook: 

Lack of Support and Communication 

Often occurs in response to inadequate communication, lack of support or communication management, and workers feeling isolated, stressed, burnt out and frustrated.   

Poor Workplace Relationships 

Unresolved or mismanaged worker issues can lead to workers feeling humiliated, uncomfortable, upset, unmotivated, anxious, and depressed, developing a negative mental and emotional state.    

Inconsistent Chain Management 

Inconsistent approaches to change within the workplace can lead workers to feel anxious and stressed at work and at home, as they rearrange priorities in response. These changes can sometimes result in a loss of job satisfaction, especially when workers feel there has been a lack of consideration. Prolonging a change or communicating it poorly can also lead to severe mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, and reduced self-esteem. 

Role Ambiguity and Inadequate Role Reward 

When a worker lacks clarity surrounding their role or receives minimal feedback or recognition for their efforts, they often work with reduced purpose and find themselves underperforming due to ambiguity. This often leads to stress, burnout, confusion, frustration, lack of motivation, low self-esteem and doubt.  

Remote and Isolated 

It is easy for workers working remotely to feel disconnected from the team, leading to socially isolating behaviours, lack of boundaries, reduced physical activity, complacency, and disregard for WHS. These can contribute to secondary issues such as, anxiety, extended working hours, additional physical strain, and depression. 

The AHR team are here to support businesses through the complex systems that are involved in Psychosocial Hazard Management. We can bring you role clarity by equipping you with the tools, templates and checklists required to prevent, manage, and intervene in hazardous and developed circumstances.  We can do it with you, working together to develop an overarching framework that will ensure you engage Employment Assistance Programs (EAP’s), mediation and third-party assistance in a timely and appropriate manner when required. OR we can do it for you, stepping in as your HR and WHS department, facilitating the development, delivery and implementation of relevant documentation, EAPs, mediation and third-party services. 

The impact of workplace interactions varies for every worker. It is important that businesses have consistent procedures in place that create a supportive and transparent exchange of information to maintain positive worker psychosocial health. Contact our AHR specialists today on 1800 577 515 to receive your personalised and complimentary consultation.   

For more information see our articles, Psychosocial Legislation and Employer Obligations and Reducing Psychosocial Hazards and Claims’ 

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Mental health: Prevalence and impact of mental health. https://www.aihw.gov.au/mental-health/topic-areas/mental-illness 

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